Only 1 in 65 child care providers in Waterloo Region signed up for a $10 a day plan
Three weeks after applications opened, only one of Waterloo Region’s 65 eligible child care providers signed up for the provincial reimbursement program to offer child care at $10 a day.
The deadline for applications is September 1.
Some licensed child care centers are expressing concern and hesitation about joining the plan.
“There is a tremendous amount of what I would call ‘micro-management’ on the part of government in the day-to-day operations of owner-operators of child care centres,” said Andrea Hannen, executive director of the Association of Day Care Operators. of Ontario. “So every item in your budget is going to be analyzed to see ‘oh, are you overspending? “”
“I think the deadline needs to be pushed back, and I think it’s unfortunate that the parent discount was tied to each center’s decision whether or not to participate,” Hannen said.
CTV News spoke with Waterloo Region parents at a local park. One said it was very important to them to receive the reimbursement, as they are currently paying over $1,800 per month for childcare.
Carolyn Ferns, of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, said “now is not the time to panic” about low enrollment.
“The deadline is September 1,” Ferns said. “As I understand, after speaking with child care programs, there is work to be done in preparing their applications.”
Staffing issues combined with summer vacation and a lengthy paperwork process were identified as contributing factors to the lack of vendor sign-offs.
“Most operators said they expect to apply between July 20 and September 1,” said Barb Cardow, director of children’s services for the Region of Waterloo.
A few smaller centers have spoken with CTV News, saying they don’t want to go public with their decision yet, however, they likely won’t apply.
The YMCA is the province’s largest nonprofit child care provider, and it says its center plans to apply.
“We plan to apply,” said Kim Decker, CEO of YMCA Cambridge. “Yeah absolutely we do, I mean we’re thrilled, it’s a really good thing for parents.”
Decker added, “And then there’s a binder that’s about, I think, 11 to 12 pages that details our financial situation and the finances of each of the centers we’re applying for.”
The region said it continues to field many questions from child care providers and is confident that most child care centers will eventually apply.