Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fee subsidy for low-income families in the Ministry of Education Early Learning Program

Fact: The provincial government has not yet announced any details about subsidies to help low-income parents pay for childcare outside the regular school day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), during July and August, during the Christmas and March breaks, on weekends and holidays, and on PD days.

In November 2009, Jim Grieve, the assistant deputy minister for the Early Learning Division of the Ministry of Education, had this to say to boards of education in a question-and-answer e-mail:

"Q5. How will fees be managed for extended day?

A5. We are still working with boards, Ministry of Children and Youth Services and other partners on the details of the extended day program. We understand boards would benefit from knowing more and we are working on providing boards with further information as soon as possible."

A City of Toronto staff report dated December 17, 2009, and prepared for a committee meeting on January 8, 2010, voiced the following concern:

"There are questions about the availability of subsidies and concerns related to the possible creation of several subsidy systems….With 4 school boards in the City there could potentially be 4 school subsidy administrators and the City providing fee subsidies for the child care sector."
See, page 8.)

What you need to know: There has been no announcement yet as to how subsidies will be administered for children in the before- and after-school Ministry of Education ELP programs. Parents who have questions should call their MPP, city Councillor or school board trustee to find out when the announcements will be made.

Changes to childcare salary grants   
Fact: We are not aware of any discussion of changes to the existing salary grant programs (DOG, PEG, WEG, WIG and various pay equity payments) when funding ends for the Best Start program and the Ministry of Education ELP begins.

What you need to know:
1. Salary grants attached to Best Start funding may be in danger when that funding stops.
2. We do not know if the existing childcare subsidies for children eligible for Ministry of Education ELP will remain in the childcare system or will be reassigned to the Ministry of Education.

Strategies for childcare operators
• To find out the details about any changes to the subsidy system and childcare staff salary grants, call the MPP, city councillor or school board trustee for your centre’s riding or ward.
• Give the details about changes to the subsidy system to parents as soon as the information is available.
• As soon as details about changes in salary grant programs become available, discuss the changes and how they will affect staff salaries with your board of directors.

Stay tuned for the next posting on January 27. I will discuss how you might analyze the financial impact of closing your care program for four and five year olds.

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