Attention NDP - Childcare Matters! Include private daycare's in your plan.
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The NDP are not being transparent about where Private Childcare businesses stands in their $1 Billion Dollar investment in Childcare. We feel the NDP are creating a system where they will ultimately control a private childcare centre’s business decisions or push us all to become nonprofit centres. We do not discount or devalue the care provided by current non-profit centres, in fact they are a vital group in the sector, however we (private owners) have created, grown and invested in our business personally, emotionally & financially, and this is our livelihood. What does that mean for our small businesses? We do not know as our questions are not being answered.
One of the first steps in the NDP investment into childcare is the new Childcare Fee Reduction Initiative (FRI). We could not be more excited to pass this long-awaited benefit on to parents. To pass this benefit to parents, childcare providers need to “Opt-in” to a voluntary program and administer it to families; the catch, all fee increases for our private businesses will need to be approved &/or declined by the government thereby taking our business decision making out of our hands.
Rightfully so, to ensure this benefit is provided correctly and consistently to families a contract is needed to be established between Childcare Provider and the Province. Unfortunately, the contract sent to Childcare Providers is not complete and inconsistent information has been received to questions regarding the contract. A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sheet was compiled to address Childcare Providers questions and some questions were answered sufficiently. HOWEVER, the FAQ sheet that provides some clarity, also contradicts the content in the legal contract Providers are expected to sign in order to Opt in to the program. At this time, these FAQ’s ARE NOT and WILL NOT be made part of the legal contract and no addendum is anticipated to correct the contradictions thereby leaving Childcare Providers in precarious position. A position where mere days where given to make an informed decision about this initiative, opting in and to discuss our questions about the future of private childcare in the NDP plan. We are not saying no to opting in, we are saying not yet. We want to work to fix the contract and be included in the long term plan.
We are advocating for 3 C’s:
Careers - The NDP have put the cart before the horse. They have committed to create 22,000 new child care spaces across BC when many centres that currently exist do not have enough qualified staff to run the programs. Many Early Childhood Educators (ECE) stay in the field for the love of children & the job, however they eventually burn out and their financial obligations become too much to cover on their low ECE wage forcing them into another career.
The new Childcare Fee Reduction Initiative offers providers a 10% increase to the already existing Child Care Operating Fund base rate as an incentive to participate in the program, but if we opt in to the program we are not allowed to raise fees unless approved. To put things into perspective – a $1 raise will cost about $160 per month, some centres have 10-15 staff for a total of $2,400 per month in increased wages. Qualified staff deserve to be paid more however it is a balance between keeping parent fees low and paying for the increase in CPP, EI, the new payroll tax, increasing lease rates and the overall inflation/cost of living, therefore when we consider a fee increase, we take it seriously and only do it if absolutely necessary. Our concern is if we cannot control our rates and our proposed increases are not approved, this lack of control over our businesses will cause Childcare Centres to close, families will be left without care and nowhere to go, people will lose their jobs, and we will lose our livelihood, our love, our passion.
We need clarity and the NDP to be transparent in their childcare plan, specifically what role private centres will play, to ensure we are not going to lose control of over our own businesses and lose everything we have invested as for many childcare owners, this is our retirement plan.
Choices & Children – Children’s needs are diverse and with that the requirements for childcare vary from family to family. There are many philosophies and styles of childcare ranging from in home family daycare, in home multiage daycare, small licensed group centres, large licensed group centres etc. Children cannot be expected to, and will not, adapt to one model of care. We want to ensure families continue to have their choice of childcare program. By allowing the NDP to slowly take control of our decision making, we feel this in turn will limit or reduce the variety of childcare programs or choices that currently exist. A cookie cutter approach to childcare simply will not work.
As private owners we strive to provide the highest quality of care to our families, there is no off switch for our business. We answer calls and emails on weekends, we jump into child:teacher ratio when we are short staffed leaving out administrative duties to the wee hours of the morning. We are emotionally invested in our business, our staff, our families and most importantly our children. Our families become an extension of our own.
Transparency and clarity are important as we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into our childcare centres to create beautiful inclusive learning environments for all children and families.
We are not saying no to opting in, we are saying not yet. We want to work to fix the contract and be included in the plan.
We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to disclose their plan for the future of childcare. We urge our leaders to act now and work with childcare providers to fix and update the current Childcare Fee Reduction Initiative contract in order for providers to “opt in” to the program and provide families with this benefit. We want assurances private childcare centres can maintain their current business model and if required, fee increases will be approved. We want to ensure childcare choices and staffing to be a priority.
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