Re­ac­tion mixed to plan to cre­ate new child care spaces

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS DAVE BARTLETT

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.

Op­po­si­tion skep­ti­cal

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

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