96 per cent of Niagara’s child-care centres opted into $10-a-day program & More Trending News


Just per week into opening its doorways, Hickory Creek Childcare Centre had a choice to make. And early on, with little info accessible, deciding whether or not to opt-in to the Canada-wide Early Learning and Children Care (CWELCC) system didn’t have a clear-cut reply.

At first, director and proprietor Mackenzie Curran was going to take a wait-and-see method. There have been a quantity of query marks –– how prices could be coated, how a lot could be reimbursed, if it will profit employees –– however when she discovered greater than 90 per cent of Niagara’s centre’s had signed up, Curran took a re-evaluation.

Alongside daycare supervisor Shanice Springer, they picked aside the settlement, delving into the CWELCC system.

The reply rapidly sharpened into focus.

“The agreement that they had out there for everybody to see is very vague and it’s very broad … but when it came down to it, and we actually got our agreement, it was a no-brainer,” mentioned Curran.

“Especially where we are in Welland. It’s a very low-income, low (socioeconomic status). We just figured we would help out our families and get in the program so that we can assist them financially, as well as give them a little safe spot for their kids to go to.”

That is a choice most Niagara child-care operators have made since Ontario opted-in to the nationwide $10-a-day childcare program. Provincially, 92 per cent of licensed operators signed on however Niagara’s quantity is increased, about 96 per cent mentioned Satinder Klair, Niagara Region’s director of kids’s companies.

Niagara has slightly below 8,000 eligible areas.

“Generally we did really well and our providers were excited to be enrolled into the program. It’s just a few that haven’t and we’re still working with a few to finalize their agreements,” he mentioned, including of those that opted-out, many have been both not working full-time or religious-based organizations the place charges have been low.

While $10-a-day price is the tip outcome by September 2025, it’s being rolled out in an escalating style.

Klair mentioned the area labored with child-care centres individually to find out base charges (as of March 2022) and corresponding costs.

On April 1, 2022, households noticed a 25 per cent discount within the base price value. It jumped to a discount of 52.75 per cent (in Niagara) on Jan. 1, with households paying the remaining 47.25 per cent. For centres which enrolled late, mother and father will obtain 25 per cent rebates retroactive to April 1.

“We float the funding to the providers that we receive from the province so it is a revenue-replacement model,” mentioned Klair, including that enrolled centres can’t enhance charges outdoors the two.75 per cent price escalation constructed into the program.

All operators have been required to speak with households after they opted-in, and Curran mentioned she notified mother and father after receiving affirmation from the area not too long ago. As anticipated, mother and father have been “very excited to be able to have that cost cut in half,” she mentioned.

Getting a brand new enterprise off the bottom, whereas additionally initially struggling to speak with the area after enrolling in CWELCC, has been a “whirlwind of emotion” mentioned Curran. And because of the early phases, it is usually taking awhile to determine the funds.

“We still haven’t seen any payments so that’s kind of scary considering our fees were cut in half,” she mentioned, persevering with to pay wages, lease and provides out-of-pocket. “It takes a little while for money to first get put in the bank account but other than that, I feel like it’s been great.”

One of the house owners of Tots N Tikes Childcare Centre, Shelley Wiegand, mentioned considerations for the Niagara Falls centre included whether or not it will be eligible for a similar advantages, as a privately-owned centre. (*96*) it was confirmed there could be no points –– Klair mentioned provincial pointers state no discrimination between for-profit and non-profit –– Tots N Tikes made the soar.

Wiegand expects it will likely be an “ever-changing learning curve,” including there was rather a lot of paperwork thus far, it’s working effectively.

“The families are happy. They’re getting 50 per cent off daycare,” she mentioned.

The centre’s cellphone is ringing off the hook, with many pondering daycare is $10, however the centre doesn’t have the house for added kids. Wiegand mentioned it might turn into a difficulty as extra folks see daycare as an possibility, and as a step in direction of getting kids school-ready.

In its settlement with the federal authorities, Ontario is ready to create 86,000 new and inexpensive child-care areas by 2026 –– with 33,000 already created. Last month, the federal government launched particulars about the place the remaining 53,000 areas might be positioned.

Niagara has been allotted 1,951 areas, mentioned Klair.

To accommodate its rising inhabitants, the area wants “further growth” however as a result of its system is just not working at full capability, on account of a scarcity of registered early childhood educators, it’s tough “to know what that shortage is,” he mentioned.

A report from the monetary accountability officer confirmed an growing demand for child-care companies in Ontario, and warned it might depart the province brief greater than 220,000 spots by 2026.

Although the quantity is unknown, Klair did affirm there’s a waitlist in Niagara for child-care. But for now, it is very important get the “system operating at full capacity and then see what our true demand for growth is,” he mentioned.

The province has recognized precedence areas for brand spanking new areas, which embrace low earnings households, weak communities, various communities, kids with particular wants, Francophones and Indigenous households, mentioned Klair. Moving ahead, the “tricky part” is ensuring the area appropriately identifies areas of want to make sure centres “benefit the families that need those spaces the most.”

One of these newer areas, Hickory Creek, which formally opened December 1, has house accessible in each its preschool and toddler room. Curran mentioned it’s been slower regardless of signing up for the program, however “we’re still hopeful.”

“We are definitely open and available for all families,” she mentioned.

96 per cent of Niagara’s child-care centres opted into $10-a-day program

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96 per cent of Niagara’s child-care centres opted into $10-a-day program

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