Ontario considers new ways to fund $10-a-day childcare to boost uptake IG News

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The province of Ontario is considering new ways to fund a national $10-a-day child care program as it seeks to address operator concerns in an ongoing bid to move beyond a particularly for-profit sector .

The first step, following this week’s extension of the opt-in deadline, is changing the guidelines for 2022 to ease operator concerns about bureaucratic intrusions into their businesses – including references to profit caps. Includes removal.

For 2023, the government is considering changing how the program is funded by giving operators more discretion over their spending, said senior government sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Sharon Siriboe, director of the Ontario Association of Independent Childcare Centers and who runs child-care centers in the Peel area, said the 2022 changes will give for-profit centers more confidence about signing up and asked what to consider for next year. Has been “promising.”

,[If] 2023 comes out and it’s in line with what we’ve been told, I don’t see why providers wouldn’t support this program,” she said.

Ministry considering ‘funding bundles’

Sources said one proposal that the ministry is considering is to release the Centre’s funding in bundles. A pool of funds set aside to finance operations may be used for expenses such as purchasing new toys, repainting walls, catering costs or cleaning, and centers will have the discretion to spend the money on operations as that they see fit.

Sources said a housing financing bundle can be used to cover expenses such as property tax, rent and mortgage payments.

The proposal seeks to address operator concerns about the language in the preliminary program guidelines, particularly the sections on ineligible expenses.

Some operators worried that with items like property taxes on the list, they wouldn’t be able to make those payments if they opted for the program and their revenues were deducted from parenting fees.

In May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford announced a $13.2 billion child care deal. Trudeau pledged to bring child-care fees to an average of $10 a day in every province and territory by the end of 2026. (Ivan Mitsui/CBC)

Also, some were interpreting the document to mean that they would not have control over decisions such as buying new toys for their centres, and would have to meet with a municipal bureaucrat to approve even modest expenses.

A clause on “unfair profits” in the initial guidelines required municipalities to set a profit limit for commercial centers and would look to return any money earned above that level to the Ministry of Education.

For the program’s first partial year of 2022, large sections of the guidelines were removed this week, including a list of eligible expenses and references to unfair benefits.

Those sections, especially the profit cap, had become a “flashpoint”, the sources said, and this was done to take out
Explain that centers opting for 2022 will get strict dollar-for-dollar replacement.

This means that no matter how much the center charges parents or how much it costs to provide services, it will get the funds required to exempt parents if it opts for 2022.

Discount roll-out slower than expected

The government had promised a discount of up to 25 percent to parents from April 1 starting in the spring, and a further reduction to an average of 50 percent by the end of the year. Fees are set to drop to an average of $10 per day by September 2025.

The roll-out has been slower than anticipated – the government initially said exemptions would be issued in May, but parents in some municipalities have recently started looking at them – and the uptake has lagged.

In Toronto, for example, out of a total of 1,042 licensed child-care centers, 587 have applied to opt-in — and 32 have opted out — although the percentage of for-profit operators applying is comparable to that of non-profits. I have very little.

The education ministry this week extended the deadline for licensed child care providers to join the program from September 1 to November 1 in an effort to get more people to sign up. It is also streamlining the process and telling municipalities that they must share an example of a standard agreement with all licensed operators in their area.

Carolyn Ferns is the policy coordinator for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, which advocates for public and non-profit child care. She said the initial funding guidelines were fair enough, and there is concern that the government is siphoning off checks and balances on public funds and surrendering for-profit operators, who represent a quarter of licensed locations in Ontario.

“We need to make sure that we are getting more and more centers into this program, okay, but not compromising on accountability, not compromising on making sure that this money is going to quality child care, ” He said.

“Because at the end of the day, that’s what we need.”

Andrea Hannon, executive director of the Day Care Operators Association of Ontario, representing both for-profit and non-profit centers, said some nonprofit members share the for-profit centers’ concerns.

One such concern is that Ontario currently plans to provide inflationary growth of only 2.6 percent, while inflation in the province is running at 7.6 percent, Hannon said.

Senior government sources said the ministry is looking into the impact of inflation.

When it comes to the overall funding structure, Hannon’s association with Canada’s Montessori Council of Administrators and the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools asked Education Minister Stephen Lessey not to rely on parents choosing their daycare for exemptions.

“We felt it was unfortunate that the waiver was linked to a center’s participation in the program, because it’s not really a factor that is within parental control,” Hannon said.

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