School boards must provide before and after school care starting Sept. 2017

Starting next September, school boards across the province will have to provide before and after school care to children up to the age of 12.

No waiting lists in Waterloo region, but that's not the case in other parts of the province

Starting in September 2017, school boards across the province will have to provide before and after school care for students up to the age of 12, Associate Minister of Education for Early Years and Child Care Indira Naidoo-Harris says. (CBC)

Starting in September 2017, schools will have to provide before and after school care for students up to the age of 12, where there is sufficient demand. 

According to Associate Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris, the goal is to increase access to child care programs.

"This will also include access to more recreational and skill building programs to get kids more active and engaged," Naidoo-Harris said in an emailed statement to the CBC. "We're making these changes to expand both access and options for before and after care for children across the province and to make everyday life easier for families."

As for who will bear the cost of these additional programs, the ministry says they will be paid for the same way they always have. 

"We don't anticipate any financial pressures on boards, as before/after school care operates on a cost recovery basis with parents paying a fee for the service," said Naidoo-Harris.

No wait lists in Waterloo region

The stress of finding before and after school care isn't a problem in Waterloo region.

"There isn't a waiting list. As demand increases, they ramp up the program," Nancy Dickieson, Waterloo region's director of children's services, told CBC News. "That's made a big difference for families."

The school boards provide care for children between the age of four and seven and about 3,000 children access that program. Parents pay for that care.

But in neighbouring Guelph, some parents spent part of their summer scrambling to find before and after school care for their children.

In one example, several parents of students attending a new school in the city's east end, École Guelph Lake School, took to the school council Facebook page over the summer seeking care, because the program run by the YMCA had a lengthy wait list. 

The Upper Grand District School Board said before and after school programs are run at some schools, and the programs are provided by third-party child care operators.

"Parents are surveyed each year during kindergarten registration to determine if there is enough interest in the program for the following school year," the board's website says.

The Wellington Catholic District School Board says on its website that it provides care "where sufficient interest exists."

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