Change the requirements for Alberta Childcare Subsidy
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My name is Serenna Hughes. I am a single mother of two little girls, ages 8 and 5. I had my first when I was 18 years old. When she was a year old, I heard of schooling assistance through our government. This program would pay for a diploma program for those in need. I went to the Alberta Works office and was denied almost immediately by a woman worker there. She told me I was an irresponsible teen mom just trying to use the system. All I wanted was to better myself because I now had a child to worry about and I wanted her to have a good future.
I came home to my mother crying about what this woman had said. I felt hopeless about my future and my daughters future. My mother told me to email our MLA, who at the time was Cindy Ady. I immediately did. The next day I received a phone call from the woman at Alberta Works whom I spoke to the day before. She profusely apologized to me explaining she did not understand the reason I went there for assistance was to further my education. This is the first time I fought for my future.
After going to school at Bow Valley College, I earned my diploma in Educational Assistant. My dream was always to become a teacher since I was in elementary, and this was my stepping stone. During this time I entered into, what became to be, an abusive relationship. I worked, and before abusive behaviors came out in my partner we decided to have a child. I went on maternity leave and had my second child. When my second child was 11 months old, I was finally able to leave with the help from my parents. During the two years after leaving, I had to fight for so much to receive help and denied a lot. I even had to represent myself in court as I was ineligible for legal aid for being "common law".
To move on from this and get to what I am trying to do now. I have currently been in school for the last three, and now going on four years. I earned my Bachelor of Arts while parenting most of the time, alone. I relied on my daycare and day-home provider to support me through my education. Without adequate and reliable childcare I could not leave my children. I was able to provide daycare for my children because I receive subsidy through our government.
This year, I have started my Bachelor of Education after degree program. I do not make my own schedule and this means I have several night classes. These classes interfere with daycare closing hours. I am fortunate enough that my father has been able to pick my children up during these night classes on his way home from work. I am also fortunate enough that since I am in school, my classes typically do not start until 9 am. This allows me to bring my kids to school myself and build a relationship with their teachers and other parents.
The way this scheduling has worked out, which is in the best interest of myself, my children and our future, it has reduced the amount of hours my children attend daycare. This daycare is much needed to support my education and allow me to attend my classes. I was notified by my children's daycare that my subsidy has been reduced. First of all, I should have received a letter informing me of this right away. I spent the evening crying and scrambling for a solution after finding this out. That night, I called Alberta Subsidy and I had a very nice woman fix the hours for me.
The next morning, as I am leaving my house I received another phone call. Another subsidy agent called me to let me know they WILL NOT be changing my hours as my daycare has submitted that my children do not meet the "required number of hours to qualify for full subsidy". For those who do not know, full subsidy does not mean I get daycare for free; I am still paying out of pocket for a portion, it just means I get a good amount of assistance.
This now means I am expected to pay an extra $294.00 a month. I am currently living off student loans, bursaries and grants. I am barely scrapping by as it is, and now I am expected to somehow come up with this difference. Daycare or dayhome facilities do not charge by how many hours your child uses. They charge by the spot being taken up. A parent must pay the full monthly fee regardless of how many hours their child uses. I am being penalized because 1. I am able to drive my kids to school because of my school schedule and 2. my father has to pick my children up earlier when he is on his way home from work because I am in classes.
I am below the poverty line as I know many others are. So many struggling families utilize childcare subsidy to make ends meat. A lot of parents, are struggling with the way our economy is right now. If a parent can only find part time work, does this mean they must leave their child in daycare when they are not working just to meet the required amount of hours? Or what about others in a situation similar to mine? What am supposed to do? I could hire a babysitter, but the government does not pay for that, so, again I would be left scrambling for money I do not have.
I would like to get as many signatures on this petition as possible to show the government who has made this "requirement" of hours that it needs to be changed. Subsidy is put in place for low income families, and if they need childcare they have to pay the full amount, REGARDLESS of how many hours they need it for. Subsidy needs to be based off of financial need and not hourly need. I would understand subsidy reducing their help if daycare's charged by the hours your child uses, but this will never happen. Daycare's need to have the full payment of a child each month to have reliable income to run their facilities. Something needs to be done, and this needs to get noticed. There are probably so many families out there who have had this done and simply gave up and felt defeated.
PLEASE HELP AND PLEASE SHARE!
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