96 per cent of Waterloo region child-care centres opt-in for $10-a-day plan
The deadline for child-care centres to apply for the $10-a-day day program is midnight on Nov. 1.
Decreased child care fees are a promise to parents, that has been a long time coming and it appears the government’s plan is now bearing some fruit.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, “As of Oct. 26, 2022, approximately 86 per cent of licensed sites have opted-in or signaled their intent to participate in the system.”
Waterloo Region is reporting an even higher opt-in percentage as of Tuesday afternoon.
“193 out of 202 sites have applied so that takes us to 96 per cent of all our sites and that does include our four home childcare, licensed child-care agencies as well,” Region of Waterloo Director of Child Services, Barb Cardow said.
The region said they are aware of one centre that has declined to opt-in. As of Tuesday afternoon they are still waiting to hear from eight others.
The CEO of Rising Oaks Early Learning Ontario, Lori Prospero, said her organization applied back in September and their locations have already been approved.
“Our childcare families here at Rising Oaks Early Learning received their fee rebate credits today,” Prospero said.
The original deadline to opt-in was Sept. 1 but that was extended.
Some child care operators told CTV news over the summer that they didn't feel they had enough information to apply and were unsure how it would impact their budget. Others mentioned the timing, and that staffing shortages mixed with summer vacations made it difficult to review what they were calling time consuming paper work.
Executive Director of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario, Rachel Vickerson, said she’s “very excited” to see this plan now in action.
“I hope there's a bit more clarity now and confidence because we want to have child-care programs and operators feel more confident that they can opt-into this program and that they will be able to provide quality care,” Vickerson added.
The money trickles down from the federal government, to child care operators who then have the option to return the money directly to parents in the form of a cheque or direct deposit, credit them for future days, or a combination of the two.
Prospero said Rising Oaks plans to incorporate a combination.
When asked about how this plan impacts the organizations bottom line, “It's a direct in and out for us. It doesn't actually impact our bottom line,” Prospero said. “As fees continue to reduce though, of course costs will go up and so we're looking at what the inflationary impact will be on the funding model going forward and looking for more details on how we can reconcile this funding so we fully understand what this program means for us and our operations.”
For centres that participate, the province said day care fees are being retro-actively reduced by 25 per cent as of April 1, 2022.
Another reduction is set for Dec. 31. At that point, parents will be paying roughly 50 per cent of their original cost.
The goal of $10-a-day program, on average, is expected by the end of 2025.
“Affordable child-care isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have. That’s why Ontario’s government is putting families first by ensuring parents have access to affordable child-care, that gives parents the choice to pursue the options that work best for them and their kids.” Minister Stephen Lecce said In a statement to CTV News.