Apr
10

Provincial Budget Includes Increase for Child Care

April 12, 2017:

The provincial budget speech said government will be”moving quickly” to address the child care challenge by ……”adding 501 new licensed child care spaces and 50 new home based child care spaces this fiscal year, and by increasing operating grants for home-based child care providers.”  

The overall increase to the child care budget is $6.2M which does not include an expected $15M from the federal government expected later this year.  The number of new spaces announced in the budget is welcome, but small, and won’t go very far toward helping the 14, 658 children on the online child care registry wait list.  At the end of the 2016 fiscal year, there were 1,045 unfunded non profit spaces in centres, most of which are probably still waiting for funding approval.  Home child care providers can have a maximum of 8 children including their own  under age 12, so 50 new home child care spaces is also small.    There has not historically been a cap on grant funding for home child care – new spaces were  funded as they are licensed – so this announcement may indicate a new limit on funding for  home child care.  28% of home child care providers have opted to not take the  provincial operating grant, which gives them the flexibility to set their own parent fees higher than the provincial maximum.

A key question is whether  there is also a funding increase  for child care centres. who provide 81% of licensed spaces, followed by 11% in licensed nursery schools, and 8% in licensed home child care.   The last operating grant increase for child care facilities was 2% in  January 2016, and the last parent fee increase was in 2013.   ( The full day preschool rate in a centre was $18.80 in 2000 and is $20.80 in 2017.)

In a recent MCCA/Probe Research survey, 73% of child care centre directors are most worried about increasing operating costs (73%) and paying competitive wages (71%) so a funding freeze for them will definitely add to their problems as operating costs continue to rise.

We don’t yet know about ongoing funding for current  ECE training programs, including the popular workplace training program and the staff replacement grant to support workplace training.    Other supports and initiatives currently available include  annual training grants, conditional tuition support grant, and funding to increase training capacity in colleges.

At many points over the past year, government has hinted they are  working on a long range plan for child care.     Key areas that must be included in a comprehensive plan, in addition to access to more  spaces,  include human resource development and expansion, such as enhanced  post secondary qualifications for centre and home based providers, along with recruitment and retention strategies that provide fair compensation;  and  infrastructure including both community based and school based facilities.

An additional announcement on child care is expected in the near future.

April 11, 2017

Child Care Association (MCCA) is expecting provincial budget 2017 to include a strong, multi-pronged, progressive plan to improve and enhance early learning and child care in Manitoba.

Quality early learning and child care has a positive impact on how children learn, supports families, benefits communities, reduces poverty, is key to women’s equality, and contributes to a strong economy.  At the end of the 2016 fiscal year there were 31,228 spaces in licensed child care centres and 3,057 spaces in licensed home child care.  As of December 31, 2017 there were 14,658 children on the online child care registry waiting list.

The MCCA/Probe Research project results have provided ample evidence that the shortage of licensed child care in Manitoba needs to be a government priority, with 83% of the public, 95% of parents, and 76% of business leaders all agreeing the lack of child care is a serious issue.   The Government of Manitoba should base their child care plan on the research that identifies the key issues, and the preferences and priorities of parents who say that:

  • licensing is important to ensure quality
  • they want their child care to have an educational program of activities provided by warm, caring, trained staff
  • schools should have on-site child care
  • child care should be part of the education system
  • child care should be built as part of new housing developments

“We know a 14-15 month wait time for a child care space is a barrier to parent employment and education, so Manitoba desperately needs a plan to license and fund more  spaces”, said April Kalyniuk, MCCA President.  “However, we also know that over 70% of child care centre directors are worried about increasing operating costs and paying competitive wages, so the provincial plan for child care  needs to include additional funding to support quality in existing centre and home based spaces as well”, she continued.   The best child care plan will address access, affordability, funding, quality of care and learning, recruitment and retention of early childhood educators, governance and administration.

Priorities

 

Categories: News

Posted by Pat W at 9:00 pm