Reaction mixed to plan to create new child care spaces
A Carbonear couple that operated a child care centre in their home say “it’s about time” the provincial government started investing more money into the creation of new child care spaces.
“ What an opportunity for people that are out there to expand a little more,” said Malcolm Seymour. Seymour and his wife, Janice, operated a small-scale child care business in their home on Newfoundland Drive for seven years. They provided care to 50-plus children during that time.
The Seymour’s closed their business because they could not afford to expand, said Malcolm.
“In order to (make it viable), we needed money to expend, but there was no help,” he said.
He believes last week’s provincial budget makes it more attractive for people to open a child care centre. He just hopes those who do are motivated for the right reasons.
“It’s nice to know (the government) is starting to think about the children. They are our future,” he added.
Up to 400 new spaces
The minister of child, youth and family services announced last week that a new two-year pilot project to develop child care spaces in family homes has the “potential to create 400 (new child care) spaces over the next two years.”
Minister Charlene Johnson, who is also the MHA for Trinity-Bay de Verde, said it doesn’t make sense to build child care centres in small rural towns, so the province will instead raise the startup grants for people who want to operate a regulated child care centre in their house.
The project’s goal is not only to create extra daycare spaces, but give people the chance to run their own business, creating employment.
The current startup grants will double from $2,500 to $5,000 and anyone who decides to run a daycare exclusively for infants under two years of age can get $7,500.
In addition, infant-only centres will get $200 a month per space created. Johnson said child care spaces for infants are in high demand. Malcolm Seymour likes government’s approach. “ What they offered us was $200 monthly for the first 12 months in business. The chain-link fence I was told to build would have cost $4,700. So it was just not feasible. There was too much red tape. Now they’re paying more money, and it should make a difference,” he said.
Seymour is concerned that the government may end the funding after the two-year pilot project ends.
But when asked how the province will evaluate its success, Johnson said it wouldn’t end after two years. She said it may be expanded, depending on how things go.
Also announced in the budget was a non-refundable child care tax credit of 7.7 per cent per child on what parents pay for daycare.
The ceiling for kids under seven is $7,000, and $4,000 for kids between seven and 12.
Johnson said the savings amount to one free month of child care a year, per child.
Reaction to the child care plan was mixed. Linda Ross, president of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, gave it a thumbs-up.
“Having child care in there was certainly a move in the right direction. So many of us have been really disappointed by the federal government’s cancellation of the national child care program. So this is going to