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OTTAWA, Ont. Child care service providers said today that the City of Ottawa has put them on notice that, without additional provincial dollars, it can no longer plug the holes in Ottawa’s child care programs. Added to this, provincial funding shortfalls and income testing that changes in how families qualify for child care subsidies are further reducing families’ abilities to access child care, a situation being ignored in the current election campaign according to the group.
Restrictions on child care fee subsidies make it more difficult for low and middle-income families to qualify for licensed home child care. We fear a potential loss of 300 licensed home child care spaces next year if the province does not begin to deal with funding gaps in child care programs, said Carole Gagne Ince, Executive Director/Directrice Generale, Canadian Mothercraft of Ottawa-Carelton/L’Agence canadienne Mothercraft d’Ottawa-Carleton. Without substantial provincial investments, more programs will begin to close their doors because of growing funding gaps. It is time that the political parties woke up to these realities and addressed what they will do for families to improve child care in this province.
Speaking at a media conference called by child care service providers across the city, Ince said that decades of provincial funding shortfalls and increasing financial constraints at the municipal level has stretched the fragile early learning and child care system to its breaking point.
The province recognizes the need for early identification of special needs through various initiatives, however, the funding to match the increased referrals has not kept up with demand, said Moira D’Aoust, Manager of Children’s Integration Support Services (CISS). We have a long waiting list for Children’s Integration Support Services that are necessary if special needs children are going to take part in early learning and child care programs.
D’Aoust also pointed out that income testing has further reduced families’ ability to access child care, because the costs families incur when they have a child with special needs are not taken into consideration with the income testing. Income testing is adding to exclusion versus inclusion, and creating a growing number of latchkey children, she said.
Diane O’Neill, Executive Director of Aladin Child Care, says that funding shortfalls and changes the province made in how families qualify for child care subsidies are seeing more school age children losing their child care space in Early Learning Child Care (ELCC), a sentiment echoed by Eleanor Heap, President of Child Care Council.
ELCC across the city has reached the breaking point, stated Heap. The province must take immediate action to address decades old funding gaps. Our child care programs cannot continue to maintain quality, feed the children and keep our doors open without immediate and substantial infusion of provincial dollars.
For further information, contact:
Shellie Bird, President, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) 613-233-0228