Sunday, February 28, 2010

Index of February 2010 Posts

February 22
Reduction of subsidized spaces in the City of Toronto

February 22
Ontario ELP legislation introduced February 17, 2010

February 10
Planning for change

February 3
Ministry guidelines for boards of education setting fees for extended-day childcare

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reduction of subsidized spaces in the City of Toronto

As reported in our January 19, 2010 posting, City of Toronto staff estimate that up to 5,000 subsidizes spaces could be eliminated as a result of a loss of Best Start funding (2,000 spaces by 2011 and 3,000 spaces by 2012). Currently the City of Toronto subsidizes fees for about 24,000 childcare spaces. The possible reduction amounts to a more than 20% drop.

City staff have estimated the reduction in available spaces by age group on a Ward-by-Ward basis. The table was attached to a report to City Council on January 26, 2010.

For the staff chart see-

For the Council decision see-

You may find it informative to see the extent of the cuts in your Ward as this may have a significant impact on your enrolment.

As the chart shows, the number of spaces to be reduced in each ward is different. This is because the reductions are based on service planning principles of age and geographic equity. Centres in Wards that are currently above the equity ceiling – that is to say in those Wards where eligible families are receiving a more than equitable share of the limited spaces available – will lose more spaces as a result of the end of Best Start funding, than centres in Wards below the equity ceiling.


Ontario ELP legislation introduced February 17, 2010

As has been widely reported, on February 17, 2010 Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky introduced Bill 242: Full-day Early Learning Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010. The bill, if passed, will mandate that all school boards offer full-day kindergarten for four- and five-year-olds, including before- and after-school childcare programs. The Bill mandates that ELP will be implemented in all Ontario elementary schools over the next five years.

Bill 242 would also give boards the authority to and mandates that they set, charge and collect fees for extended day programs outside of the regular school day and during July and August, Christmas and March breaks, weekends and holidays, and PD days.

The Bill permits boards to operate extended day programs for other pupils of the board (i.e. children 6 years and up) and permits two or more boards to operate a joint extended day program.

In a positive move forward, the bill mandates that "teachers and early childhood educators co-operate with each other with respect to matters regarding the provision of junior kindergarten, kindergarten and extended day programs." and that boards of education "designate at least one position in each junior kindergarten and kindergarten class as requiring an early childhood educator, and to appoint early childhood educators to those positions."

Finally, the Bill requires amendment to the Day Nurseries Act to allow fee subsidy for parents of children in extended day programs outside regular school hours.

The actual text of the bill including a readable one page explanatory note of key changes can be seen at:


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Planning for change

Full Day Early Learning is on the way and will likely have an impact on your centre. Many aspects of your centre's operations will be affected; finances are only one aspect and perhaps not the most significant. Identifying challenges well in advance increases the likelihood of developing effective strategies to address and resolve them. It is important to evaluate how your centre will be affected by introduction of full day kindergarten; failure to identify future problems today could be devastating tomorrow.

We contacted Sue Hunter, of Hunter Consultants ( for advice on a process to identify potential challenges to your program and then chart a course of action to react positively to those changes.

Step 1 – Understand your existing operation
As with any journey, you need to have a good idea where you are now before you can plot a new course. The first step is to review your existing services. Begin by identifying:
  • the age groups your centre services
  • demand for care in your area, including the depth of your waiting list (Determine if the families on your waiting list are still interested - some centres have very long lists but when they go to fill empty spaces, the people on the list have long since made other arrangements)
  • the location of your centre or centres relative to local schools
  • the number of different elementary schools attended by the children in your centre
  • percentages of full fee and subsidized parents
  • your physical plant – how easily could rooms be converted to serve other age groups?
  • whether your space is at risk. For example, is your space likely to be taken over by a school for full day early learning or for Board of Education delivered before- and after-school care?
  • Retention of staff (e.g. are they likely to accept an offer of employment from a Board of Education?)
  • The size of your financial cushion which has a direct impact on the degree of financial flexibility the centre has to revamp and reorganize the services provided.

Step 2 – Critique your existing operation
Self analysis is never easy. You might consider getting outside help with this process. It need not be a complicated undertaking but must be done well as it provides the foundation for the rest of the process. Questions to answer include:

  • What are your centre's strengths? For example, do you currently provide infant and/or toddler care?
  • As importantly, what are its weaknesses? Is your physical plant in need of a significant upgrade?
  • What threats are your centre facing in both the short- and long-terms? Is your centre very highly subsidized? If you are located in the City of Toronto, is the centre located in a Ward that is currently above the equity ceiling for subsidy allocation? The cut in Best Start funding will reduce eligibility to subsidy even for eligible families. Enrolment could be adversely affected whether or not your centre is immediately affected by the implementation of full day early learning.
  • What opportunities does your centre have for change and growth in both the short- and long-terms? What are the neighborhood demographics?
Step 3 – Analyze the possible financial impact of losing the four-and five-year olds
See the January 24 posting on this blog for a discussion of the possible financial implications of closing down your care program for four-and five-year olds. The posting includes a method of calculation that can be used to determine the reduction in contribution to overhead from closing a playroom.

Step 4 – Exploring options
The next step, exploring a range of possible options to increase the long-term viability of your centre, is based on the information gathered in steps 1 through 3. As you explore your options consider:
  • legislative requirements
  • financial impact
  • physical space requirements
  • staffing implications
  • governance

Following are possible options, some of which may be relevant in your situation and some of which may not. Creativity with a touch of practicality is the key ingredient in this phase. Consider:

  1. increasing the number of younger children in care. Take in to account:
    • Capital costs required to create the space
    • Demand for care of younger children in your area in the foreseeable future
    • Demand for and availability of fee subsidies in your area
    • Staffing availability
  2. can you register as a school to offer the kindergarten syllabus and before- and after- school care?
  3. adding a fee-for-service nursery school program
  4. downsizing, provided you can cover your overhead costs
  5. amalgamating/merging with another centre or community program
  6. providing emergency care
  7. delivering the Ministry of Education Kindergarten Program in your centre with better staff to child ratios than the Boards of Education are able to provide.
Step 5 – Moving forward
Once you have decided on a course of action it is time to move into implementation mode. This phase can be easier because you have a course of action to follow. It can be more as you might be managing a significant project on top of running the day-to-day operations at your centre. Thoughtful planning is essential to make sure you accomplish your objectives.

Embarking on a possible change of direction can be intimidating and a lot of work. However, knowing that change is needed well in advance of the event occurring is always less stressful than finding out at the last minute.

Bon Chance!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ministry guidelines for boards of education setting fees for extended-day childcare

If your centre provides care to four- and five-year olds and a school in your catchment area will be part of the Early Learning Program, you need to consider whether you will continue offering childcare for kindergarten-aged children. One consideration will be how the fees charged by the school in your area for before- and after-school childcare compare to what your centre charges.

Fact: A memo, dated January 13, 2010, from Jim Grieve, the assistant deputy minister for the Early Learning Division of the Ministry of Education, to directors of education explains how boards of education should set their fees for before- and after-school care for four- and five-year-olds. The memo can be found at:

The French version of the memo can be found at:

The memo offers the following guidance about the fees to be set by boards of education (see pages 4 to 6 of the memo):

Ministry of Education comment

Implications for your centre

"Boards would be responsible for setting extended day fees on a board-wide basis… and [would] approve them through a regular, open meeting of the board."

You will have a chance to see how fees will be set for the before- and after-school parts of the extended-day programs delivered by boards of education.

"Fees are intended to recover incremental costs associated with the extended day program… fees are not designed to raise additional resources to supplement other board revenues."

Fees for extended-day childcare are intended to cover only the day-to-day operating costs of before- and after-school care. Capital costs, such as playground construction and facilities upkeep, do not seem to be included in the formula for calculating daily fees. (See last comment in this table, Capital costs...)

Boards would be required to calculate their costs in accordance with provincial policies, guidelines and requirements including:

  • ECE and ECA hourly wages at board-approved salary levels
    • Benefits and staff-related costs at rate of 55% of gross salary (see memo, Appendix 1: Sample Daily Fee Calculation)
    • Program and snack costs estimated on a per diem basis
  • "Fee collection and administration costs based on arrangements made by Boards to collect and administer the fees (for example, internal administration costs, costs of fee collection contract)"

It will be possible to compare board of education salaries with those in your organization.

Note that there is no mention of administrative salaries.

The board price calculations also do not appear to include overhead, such as insurance, utilities and telephone costs.

Your fees, on the other hand, must be high enough to pay for supervisory staff and overhead as required by the Day Nurseries Act.

"Capital costs would not be recoverable through extended day fees."

The board price calculations do not include capital costs.

Your fees must be high enough to pay for capital equipment required by the Day Nurseries Act.

Fact: The memo also contains the following other important information:


Ministry of Education comment

Implications for your centre


"Boards that have the capacity and the demand are called upon to provide extended services at other times of the year to children aged six to twelve years old. This could include PD days, holidays and the summer."

It is hard to imagine that a school would not have space during PD days, holidays and the summer to provide these services given that students do not attend school during those periods. If the demand is there, the boards of education are being requested to provide care for children aged six to twelve.


"Where there is sufficient parent demand and board capacity, school boards are called upon to provide extended services, for a reasonable fee, at other times of the year for four and five year olds.… This could include summertime, PD days, holidays and the statutory holidays."

It is hard to imagine that a school with before- and after-school care programs for four- and five-year olds would not have space during PD days, holidays and the summer. In addition, the board may well have childcare staff on hand who are able to provide the service.


Before-and after- school care programs will be delivered by board employees.

Program delivery will not be outsourced to third-party care providers.


"As a board program led by board employees, the extended day component would not be subject to the Day Nurseries Act."

"However… third party providers will continue to be subject to the Day Nurseries Act."

"As with the core day program, the ratio of staff to students would be 2:26. Where there are more than 13 children ...a second adult must support the registered ECE in the delivery of the extended day component."

Extended-day programs offered by boards will be subject to the anticipated 1:13 ratio that applies to kindergarten children in school (Note: legislation has not yet been passed setting caregiver to child ratios).

Non-board care providers will be subject to the current Day Nurseries Act ratios:
1:8 for preschool children
1:10 for junior kindergarten children
1:12 for senior kindergarten children



"Transportation related to extended day programs would be parental responsibility."

There will be no busing to and from schools for children in before-and after- school care programs.


"With regard to subsidies eligibility and subsidy levels, the government's intent is to apply the current subsidy eligibility rules and income test to subsidies for extended day [childcare]."

Details regarding subsidy have not yet been announced.