In Simcoe County, over 200 licensed child care operators are eligible to opt-in for the $10 per day deal between Ontario and the federal government, and while parents anxiously wait to take advantage of lower rates, some operators remain hesitant.
“I want to give my parents the reduction in rates, but I’m scared,” said Ana Kaloudis, owner of Learning Cubs Child Care.
Kaloudis said the language in the 74-page document released by the Ministry of Education back in April was confusing and left her with more questions than answers.
“I’m not sure what they are fully covering and if they are covering dollar for dollar,” she said.
While it’s anticipated that rents will be covered, for the most part, Kaloudis noted things like debt interest and property taxes are not eligible expenses.
“Not having that and being able to pay that back is a huge deal to us because we won’t be viable if we can’t pay back our loans.”
Across the province, child care operators are raising concerns, saying they don’t have enough information to make a decision, calling into question the quality of care, especially when it comes to special programming.
“Some centres run programs like music and art and French and other things and aren’t sure that the funding will be there for that,” said Maggie Moser, Ontario Association of Independent Childcare Centres. “Operators are concerned if they opt-in, they will be driven into bankruptcy.”
In response to CTV News, the Ministry of Education stated, “The program details have been communicated to municipalities and operators for many weeks. The province has released funding allocations to municipalities, and we have been strongly encouraging our municipal partners to work as quickly as possible with child care operators to get this money into parents’ pockets. Operators need to apply to the program, and the money will flow from municipalities.”
In a statement, Simcoe County said it “continues to develop a detailed CWELCC policy framework, which will ultimately guide operators in determining whether or not they will sign on to the CWELCC initiative. The County expects to release its policy guideline to licensed operators by the end of June.”
“In recent weeks, County staff have heard a mix of excitement and sharp concern from licensed operators about what will come next. All operators require assurances that the funding will cover their operating expenses on an ongoing basis as parent fees are gradually reduced between 2022 and 2025.”
Child care operators have until September to decide if they will opt-in.