Mixed reaction to child care plan

Dave Bartlett
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Province hopes to create 400 home-based daycare spaces over two years

The minister of child, youth and family services says a new two-year pilot project to develop child care spaces in family homes has the “potential to create 400 (new child care) spaces over the next two years.”

The pilot project was announced in the 2011 provincial budget Monday.

Minister Charlene Johnson told reporters it doesn’t make sense to build child care centres in small rural towns, so the province will instead raise the startup grants for people who want to operate a regulated child care centre in their house.

The project’s goal is not only to create extra daycare spaces, but give people the chance to run their own business, creating employment.

The current startup grants will double from $2,500 to $5,000 and anyone who decides to run a daycare exclusively for infants under two years of age can get $7,500.

In addition, infant-only centres will get $200 a month per space created. Johnson said child care spaces for infants are in high demand.

Also announced in the budget was a non-refundable child care tax credit of 7.7 per cent per child on what parents pay for daycare.

The ceiling for kids under seven is $7,000, and $4,000 for kids between seven and 12.

Johnson said the savings amount to one free month of child care a year, per child.

When asked how the province will evaluate the success of the pilot project, Johnson said it wouldn’t end after two years, but may be expanded, depending on how things go.

“It’s critical from an economic perspective, it’s critical from a gender equality perspective, it’s critical from a child development perspective, it’s critical all around,” she said of the project. “The premier has touted (child care) as one of her top priorities.”

Johnson’s department will also get additional funding of $9.2 million this year. Johnson said the money will pay for more social workers and program development.

She also said Child, Youth and Family Services should completely take over responsibilities for family services from the four regional health authorities by this time next year.

Reaction to the child care plan was mixed.

Linda Ross, president of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, gave it a thumbs-up.

“Having child care in there was certainly a move in the right direction. So many of us have been really disappointed by the federal government’s cancellation of the national child care program. So this is going to make a difference. It’s not to say it’s the answer to everything,” Ross said.

Paula Sheppard, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labra­dor Organization of Women Entrepreneurs, also approved.

“From an employer’s perspective, I was really happy to see … money going into that,” she said. “We do deal with business startups, so that might be an opportunity for some businesses to start up, take advantage of those grants, especially in rural Newfoundland.”

But the opposition parties were skeptical.

“We really expected a lot more around the child care initiative because this was one of the hallmarks of the government in their throne speech,” said Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones. “We were hoping it would be more affordable child care for people. We were hoping that there would be more enhancements to the centres and more spaces created in centres. We didn’t see those things at all.”

The labour movement also said it wasn’t satisfied.

“I thought government would really focus on child care, which we know is an important social issue for nurses and for the people of the province,” said nurses’ union president Debbie Forward. “The money that they did invest, $3 million, just doesn’t go far enough.”

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Youth and Family Services, Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Organization of Women Entrepreneurs

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • anna
    July 12, 2011 - 19:33

    Hey, MOMMA, I think here in B.C. a person does need ECE or 1 class to work as assistant...not too attractive considering time, fees and then low wages...Would you let me know the name of the weekend course in case it is available here?

  • brett
    April 21, 2011 - 10:31

    This does not help develop sustainable businesses. The costs of providing for 2 year olds and under is too cost prohibitive. This is just a hand out for stay at home pretend businesses. They even say it's for daycare for small townships around the island that aren't large enough for a real daycare. Another subsidy for places where it's not economical to live. Best part about this hand out is exactly how can it be reduced or eliminated after a few years? MAYBE if it was used to encourage sustainable businesses get set up and handle their startup costs then it could be phased out, but NO this plan is all about creating jobs with no thought going in to what happens WHEN not so good times come around be they in 2, 10 or 20 years. I hope this nonsense buys you your votes.

  • Michelle
    April 20, 2011 - 19:56

    I am an ECE AND I am very diasappointed that there appears to have been no effort made by the author of this piece to get the reactions of our professional organization AECENL. Let's hear what they have to say about this budget. The silence is deafening.

  • Vanessa
    April 20, 2011 - 15:14

    MOMMA - Please verify your information before posting. You may want to check out this link. http://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/Regulations/rc050089.htm#18_ These are the minimum requirements............many childcare centre staff have much higher than this. In addition, a high quality childcare centre and staff's mandate is to direct programming to enhance the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of a child through theory based play practice, which goes beyond learning ABC's, and 123's. Many years of research demonstrate that this is a very effective form of "education" for young children. There is no doubt that some childcare centres may not reach this high standard of quality however as parents we also have a responsiblilty to check out any program, activity,school etc. that are child will be involved in. No two doctors are the same, as no two schools are the same. We as individuals need to be informed so we can make educated decisions in the best interest of our children.

  • Vanessa
    April 20, 2011 - 15:12

    MOMMA - Please verify your information before posting. You may want to check out this link. http://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/Regulations/rc050089.htm#18_ These are the minimum requirements............many childcare centre staff have much higher than this. In addition, a high quality childcare centre and staff's mandate is to direct programming to enhance the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of a child through theory based play practice, which goes beyond learning ABC's, and 123's. Many years of research demonstrate that this is a very effective form of "education" for young children. There is no doubt that some childcare centres may not reach this high standard of quality however as parents we also have a responsiblilty to check out any program, activity,school etc. that are child will be involved in. No two doctors are the same, as no two schools are the same. We as individuals need to be informed so we can make educated decisions in the best interest of our children.

  • Doug
    April 20, 2011 - 13:54

    Great! I'm supporting even more people! I feel beloved that so many people DEPEND on my pay cheque. If it isnt the poorly planned seniors (ever hear of Freedom 55?) or the welfare crowd (walking by Help Wanted signs!?) now I pay for the children of others?! Certainly makes tax evasion attractive! Seniors retirement plans should not include living off the backs of the working class. Unemployment Professionals/Welfare Crowd - just hopeless regardless. Families - Pay for your OWN.

  • MommyGummi
    April 20, 2011 - 12:12

    Two years ago when my daughter entered daycare I was paying $275 for 2 weeks ($550 a month). Now, I'm paying $375 for 2 week ($750 a month)! Daycare costs increased by $100 a year, but yet no increases like that on my paycheque! I think it's great to have this child tax credit, but the lower middle class is going to get screwed over again! We are to high to be considered low income and get support there, but too low to afford to live! By the time we pay rent (because there's no way our salaries are high enough to pay a mortguage) , daycare, and NL Power there's barely enough money left to buy food for our 4 year old, let alone be able to put her in extra-curricular activities, or be able to take a much needed vacation! Willie Hunt: when our daughter was born we could afford to have her in daycare but with increases of $100 a year in daycare fees, I'm willing to take anything I can get to help me out! Maybe if daycare fees were decreased there wouldn't as much of a need for government suppliments. How can Quebec provide daycare for $5 a day, but here in NL we are paying $75?

    • Momma
      April 20, 2011 - 14:08

      MommyGummi - I am SOOO with you and agree with you! An increase of over $200 per month to your bill is un-fit and us "middle class" individuals who are fighting to live, get a kick in the ass cause we are a couple thousand over that border line. You almost feel like living in poverty so you can get ahead... Sounds sick, but so true! You either let the government pay your way through life, or live in the riches, us middle people are in the dirt, squirming for some freedom!!!

  • Willie Hunt Pouch Cove NL
    April 20, 2011 - 09:44

    I raised 3 youngsters down this way and didn't need no hand out from goverment to do it either. We got the little bit of baby bonus but that was all. If you can't bring up your own youngster without looking for goverment handouts you are better of not having any until you can afford them. Willie Hunt Pouch Cove NL

    • Momma
      April 20, 2011 - 14:08

      Willie Hunt - GROW UP! This is a new day and age and things are different. The cost of living is going through the roof and our pay does not change!! Should be standard that if minimum wage goes up, so should your hourly pay!

    • In CBS
      April 21, 2011 - 06:17

      Willie - Couldn't agree with you more! Why should we pay for everyone else?

  • Calvin
    April 20, 2011 - 08:25

    The opposition was actually incorrect in their assessment of employees at daycares who have their ECE, saying less than 50% of daycare workers have been educated. It is provincial policy now that for you to be working in a daycare you either have to have your ECE, or be enrolled in an institution working towards your ECE. Where government dropped the ball here is not addressing the ability of home daycare providers to obtain their ECE. Someone providing childcare in their home is unable to use that childcare experience to enroll in the distance ed ECE program at CONA (for example), because they are not working at a registered daycare. However, they can't register their daycare without their ECE. Many people providing childcare in their home are parents who decide to stay home with their infants because it is so hard to find a spot in a daycare, not to mention the financial burden of paying for childcare. I know people who treat it as a business, pay taxes, provide receipts, but are unable to use their experience as childcare providers. Another glaring issue with childcare in the province is the fact that people with their ECE are payed squat by daycare owners. Therefore, less individuals are enrolling in the ECE program, meaning less available workers, less available spaces in daycares and less daycare businesses overall. Government needs to work with daycares to increase wages for qualified workers through some form of government subsidy, otherwise the childcare situation in the province is going to get worse before it gets better.

    • Momma
      April 20, 2011 - 14:07

      CALVIN - For your information they DO NOT need an ECE to be qualified to work in a daycare. It is only required if they work in a Pre-School... There is a difference. A Pre-school teaches the kids stuff, parents pay more and their kids are prepared for Kindergarden a little more than those at daycare. At daycare, they can hire ANYONE with a First Aid and a simple course they can take on a weekend. They ARE NOT allowed to teach Anything to the children but are just there to look after them. I would say 75% of daycares/pre-schools in Newfoundland are really just Daycares.