New City funding formula for licensed child care centres requires $11.5 million transition funding; City staff says child care in Ottawa under-funded
City proposes new local child care funding formula, says child care is underfunded in Ottawa
The City's Child Care Service Plan affects the 28,000 licensed child care spaces for children aged 2.5 and older who use provincially-regulated child care in 333 licensed child care agencies in the city. This covers about 25% of the 107,000 children age 10 and under living in Ottawa.
The new service plan deals with two pressing issues: inequities in current child care funding, and the impact on community-based child care from the implementation of the Province's Full Day Learning initiative for kindergarten-aged children (ages 4 & 5). The plan provides for a new funding formula weighted by age group (as younger children have higher staff-child ratios), giving priority for subsidized spaces (6,500 out of 28,000 licensed child care spaces) to low-income families (i.e. Ontario Works, ODSP).
The City's new funding formula will create winners and losers among child care providers, according to City staff: about 50-50 for the 333 licensed child care providers in Ottawa. As a result City staff are recommending a contribution of $11.5 million from the City's Child Care Reserve Fund over 5 years to help transition community-based child care centres in order to keep their programs going, primarily to assist them in expanding pre-school, toddler and infant care programs in the wake of the provincial Full Day Learning program, which has, in effect, transferred most 4 and 5 year olds from community-based care to the school system.
City staff pointed out that the current child care system is underfunded and requires government support to be sustainable, as licensed child care program fees are a barrier to many families. Despite this, there are over 9,000 children on the City's waiting list for licensed child care spaces, plus another 3,000 children on the waiting list for subsidized child care spaces, according to the City report that was considered at the City’s Community & Protective Services Committee today (April 16, 2015). The Council committee endorsed the staff recommendations.