Administering licensed daycare centres just got a whole lot more involved, but it’s a move being welcomed by regional officials.
There are no details yet, but a new agreement between the federal and provincial governments will move operations towards a $10-per-day target for childcare services.
With the first step coming into effect next month there will be a 25 per cent reduction in fees charged at participating daycare facilities. That’ll mean rolling out reimbursements retroactive to April 1 when the funding model – and the money itself – is finalized, says the region’s director of children’s services.
“We don’t have any details yet. We do know, though, that we’ll be hearing from the province with what our allocations are going to be,” said Barb Cardow, noting the deal should make childcare more affordable along the way to full implementation by 2026.
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“I’m really excited for what this means for families.”
The province this week signed on to Ottawa’s Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, a $13.2-billion deal to reduce the average daily cost of daycare to $10.
Exactly how that will roll out in municipalities such as Waterloo Region is still up in the air.
“Childcare operators will all have to express their interest in participating in the program, or they will choose to opt out. We will be responsible for receiving and processing all that information,” said Cardow of the work ahead.
The agreement will reduce licensed child care fees for children under six years old on average by 25 per cent as of April 1, saving Ontario families an average of about $2,200 per child. By the end of the year, fees will be further lowered, and families will see a total reduction of 50 per cent on average, saving them an average of about $6,000 per child per year.
In Waterloo Region, the average cost of licensed daycare is about $1,200 per month. A 50 per cent reduction in that by year’s end is a big deal, said Cardow.
“If you’re paying about 50 per cent less, wow, that is significant, especially if you have a couple of little people in childcare.”
“High-quality care that fosters early childhood learning and development is critical for children to thrive. This funding will be a game-changer for families in Waterloo Region, providing greater affordability and access to child care. We look forward to working closely with the provincial government and our community partners to transform child care in our region,” said regional chair Karen Redman in a release announcing the deal, highlighting the financial relief offered to families with young children in daycare.
Along with reducing the cost, the new deal also calls for some 86,000 new childcare spaces in the province. Again, the funding model remains unknown, with Cardow noting the growth target is based on 2019 numbers, so some of those new spaces have already been put in place.
The governments will be making funding available to help with that expansion to licensed childcare spaces.
“There are currently licensed childcare operators that are not receiving funding because there just has not been enough funding in the system to be able to fund every single program. This will allow some existing operators to be able to receive funding and then hopefully build new spaces,” Cardow explained.