Lower Mainland daycares in financial limbo waiting for child-care benefits
Last summer, Pamela Wallberg, owner of a Richmond, B.C., daycare centre, had to loan a parent three months’ tuition before the provincial government paid her back.
The single parent was recently divorced and relied on
the province’s child-care subsidy, rebranded the Affordable Child Care Benefit on Sept. 1, to pay for daycare. In fact, seven families at Wallberg’s Alderwood House School don’t pay any tuition through the benefit, which is calculated based on such factors as family size, type of care and household income.
In B.C., families receive the payments through their child-care providers after the operators receive it from the government.
The family benefits are “wonderful,” said Wallberg, CEO of Alderwood, but “if the government is wanting to take that on, they need to understand how payments work for child-care operators and why. They can’t just assume that you can float the budget for two months while you’re sorting this out because we don’t have that kind of profit margin.”
For a smaller operator like Wallberg with 35 spaces, she said there is little profit to be made. She is paid a fair market salary, but some years she loses money, while she makes a “very small amount” in others. In a month without a lot of expenses, she might make a profit of roughly $600.
There are ways to fix the state of limbo caused by the delay, she added.
Read the ministry’s response at thestar.com/vancouver