Lower Main­land day­cares in fi­nan­cial limbo wait­ing for child-care ben­e­fits

StarMetro Vancouver - - NEWS - JENNY PENG

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

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