Kitchener-Waterloo

Few details, but Region hopeful about Ontario's child-care pledge

Provincial plans for more funding and a new framework for child care in Ontario has given local officials hope that they can improve services in Waterloo Region.

The plans for a child-care framework is as important as funding, director of children's services says

The Region of Waterloo's director of children's services is hopeful the provincial plans will improve the accessibility and affordability of child care in Ontario. (Loic Venance/Getty Images)

Provincial plans for more funding and a new framework for child care in Ontario has given local officials hope that they can improve services in Waterloo Region.

The specific details of how the Region of Waterloo will be affected aren't known yet, but children's services director Barbara Cardow says it's a move in the right direction.

"We do know it will mean we we will be able to move families from the subsidy child care wait-list with children aged zero to four into licensed child care spaces and will mean increased spaces available in the region," Cardow told CBC K-W The Morning Edition's Craig Norris.

An initial funding boost of $200 million in the first year will address urgent needs, she said, but of more importance is the upcoming framework.

"It's not enough just to provide funding over time," Cardow said. "The child care system absolutely needs some attention around addressing affordability, the child-care workforce quality and supports for kids with special needs."

The provincial plan aims to improve all aspects of the child-care system including the availability, quality and flexibility, Early Years and Child Care Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris said Monday.

Affordability still an issue

Affordability is another big issue the new plan hopes to address.

There are subsidies for parents with low or low-middle income, she said, and those with high incomes can afford child care but parents in the middle are struggling.

As of 2016, in Waterloo Region a year of full-time child care for a three-year-old cost between $8,613 and $16,380, she said, while the cost for an infant can be up to $19,000 per year.

Initially, the new funding won't help those in a middle income, she said, but will help parents on a wait-list for a subsidy. 

Longer term, she hopes to see child care become more affordable for all parents.

Space is another big concern. Cardow said Waterloo Region currently only has licensed child-care spaces for 13.8 per cent of children between zero and 12.

"We don't have enough spaces at this time. That is part of the purpose of the funding that's coming forward and the strategy long term."

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