by Sue Tiffin
Published Sept. 3 2019
Although a capital expansion of the Compass Early Learning and Care Centre in Minden planned to be completed by December 2020 will increase licensed child care space for toddlers and preschoolers and will offer 10 new spaces for infants – the first licensed spots in a non-home-based centre in the county for children aged up to 18 months – in the meantime almost 50 kids in the county are signed up to a wait list seeking licensed child care.
Currently there are 208 spots for licensed child care in the county for 1405 local children aged up to 12 years – about 15 per cent of the population. For toddlers aged 18 to 30 months 20 spaces are available with 10 kids of that age on the waitlist; for preschool kids aged 30 months to four years 64 spaces are available with seven on the waitlist; for kindergarten kids aged five to six years 66 spaces are available with two kids on the wait list; and for primary junior school aged kids aged seven to 12 years old 58 spaces are available with six kids waiting for care. The numbers of kids waiting for licensed child care do not reflect those who might not be on the list due to using alternative means of child care which don’t allow for funding subsidies to families in need.
“What can happen is people might be using family members they might be using unlicensed care so there may be some children in that type of care situation however if they are in need and they access a licensed home child care provider then they may be eligible to receive subsidies to help pay for care” said Janine Mitchell manager human services City of Kawartha Lakes.
In most cases families aren’t able to access the fee subsidy program in order to help pay for care if they are not using licensed child care which is why it is important for more licensed spaces to be available.
“That’s why we are continually trying to recruit licensed home child care providers in those communities” said Mitchell.
Currently only one licensed home child care provider exists in Haliburton County. According to their website Compass Early Learning and Care is actively recruiting “nurturing creative flexible and resourceful individuals with a passion for children’s learning and development” to offer licensed child care in their homes for up to six children under the age of 13 with an immediate start date. The program offers access to family group benefits referral incentives professional development training and networking and access to a toy and equipment library.
A child tax credit offered by the provincial government is based on income.
“It’s all according to taxes and you know with all tax credits the amount you’re eligible to receive depends on how much money you make” said Mitchell. “There is a child tax credit the maximum a parent is allowed to receive on an annual basis is $1250. Now child care in itself would cost more than that. Our average cost for child care for an infant is $54 [a day] across the County of Haliburton and the city of Kawartha Lakes.”
One year of child care – about 252 days – for a toddler aged 18 to 30 months costs approximately $8694 while the cost for a preschool child aged 30 months to four years is approximately $8757.
Families of kindergarten and school-aged children from five to 12 years old who require care before and after school will pay on average about $4700 a year. Mitchell said the cost of child care for a toddler in Toronto can be double what it is here.
“However we have information that shows the difference of what’s the cost of living what’s the average income what’s the average income of our sole support parents so we know that even though it might be just over $10000 [here] that is a lot of money for the parents in our communities” she said. “That’s a lot of money. So we really try to work hard to support the agencies.”
Mitchell said her agency works on a number of provincial and regional working groups to serve the community and that they listen to service providers as well but cannot always address their needs without an unlimited pot of money.
“We are aware of and track very carefully the child care situation and the child care picture in all of our communities we know what the needs are and we are always ready for any available funding that might come from the province any available opportunities for expansion we’ll be ready” she said. “What we have to make sure of is to have sufficient operating dollars to support those programs because child care programs are financially supported through the City of Kawartha Lakes we do have to make sure we have the funding we can’t just expand without making sure we have the funding to support that expansion.”
Mitchell said data is also being tracked regarding how far families have to travel to access care.
“That’s also something to consider as well” she said. “We do have care in the village of Haliburton and in Minden. If you’re living in Cardiff you may be accessing care in Bancroft.”
She becomes emotional as she explains: “Quality early learning opportunities are really important for the development of children. When we can do the best we can do for children then that just supports the entire community for years to come and it also supports their families. We always want to make sure we can offer the best opportunities for children that we can.”
Families interested in applying to join the waitlist for licensed child care can do so directly through child care programs or through the City of Kawartha Lakes website at https://www.kawarthalakes.ca/en/living-here/child-care-fee-subsidy.aspx. Individuals interested in offering licensed childcare in their home can learn more at https://www.compasselc.com/careers/hcc-provider/.