A Langley daycare operator has opted into the province’s new child care fee reduction program and thinks other providers should do so as well.
Jason Bains, director and owner of Educare Early Learning Daycare, based in Langley City on 56 Avenue, said he shares the concerns that other daycare providers have about the government program, but is seeing the benefit to parents.
The current fee reduction has helped the majority of the parents who have children in his daycare.
“Seeing parents have their fees reduced by $350 per month, it really helps them,” said Bains. Educare offers daycare from infant to toddler and has 48 spaces. Operating for the past three years, they are completely full and have a waitlist.
“For our infants, we charge $1,209 per month for full-time care. Now our parents are paying $859. But we have a lot of children on subsidy, so those parents pay only $109 per month under the new free reduction program,” said Bains.
Around 60 per cent of B.C. daycares have opted into the fee reduction program.
He shares the concerns that other operators have about how much interference the government should have in a private business.
For every daycare that opts in, the ministry requires the submission of their planned fees for April 2018 to March 2019, which they set themselves, including any fee increases.
Once approved, they will be required to stick to this fee schedule for the contract term, unless they experience extraordinary circumstances that make it necessary for them to raise their fees, for example an unexpected rent increase.
Alexis Playdon owns the Imagination Station, which has three locations in Maple Ridge and another in Walnut Grove, built up over 11 years in the private daycare business. Her partner is Lynsey Paschley.
Playdon said they employ 26 people and have a payroll of $80,000 per month.
She too is worried about the fate of private operators if they have to compete with government-operated spaces.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development told the Times, they ‘want parents to have the choice to find child care that works best for their needs, and that’s why every provider – whether private or non-profit – has a role to play in our plan.’
Many daycares don’t like the fact that opting in forces them to give up the right to independently raise their fees.
Several large daycares in Maple Ridge have chosen not to join.
Participation in the child care fee reduction initiative is voluntary. Providers who opt in will receive a 10 per cent increase to their child care operating funding for any spaces that are funded through the new initiative.
There is no deadline for opting in.
The government’s next measure, the new ‘Affordable Child Care Benefit,’ will launch in September. Families with incomes up to $111,000 may be eligible, and parents will be able to apply online.
The benefit will be phased in, with amounts increasing over three years, beginning with licensed infant and toddler care (2018-19), and then expanding to three- to five-year-old care in 2019-20.