'It's a huge concern for every parent': P.E.I. home daycare provider says regulations too tough
The new Early Learning and Childcare Act came into effect Jan. 1, 2017
One P.E.I. home childcare operator said recent changes to regulations surrounding her business are too tough. The new Early Learning and Child Care Act came into effect on Jan. 1 2017, after being passed in 2010.
Part of the new regulations included changes to how many infants, defined as children under 22 months, an unlicensed operator is allowed.
It used to be two, even in a mixed-age setting, now only one infant is allowed— that includes the operators own children.
"Decreased ratios in general are affecting every home care providers' income drastically," said Emily Ingram who runs a home based daycare in Rice Point, P.E.I, that includes her toddler and infant.
She got into the business in April, and thought she was going by the right criteria, but was mistaken.
When she found out the correct ratios, she had stop caring for an additional infant she had taken on.
"It's been very, very difficult because the parents had just returned to work, and now she's left with no care for her child and will likely have to leave her job," said Ingram
Ingram said many operators she has spoken with are now turning away infants. She herself has five on a wait list.
Government reports there are approximately 200 infants waiting for care over the next eight months but that could change as there will also be many children moving out of infant-spaces and into preschool-spaces during this period.
"It's a huge concern for every parent. I've heard it from so many people and they're just always so worried that they're not going to be able to find child care and return to work," said Ingram.
"And most people can't so they don't return to work so they're living off one income per family."
Ingram said that when it comes to the bottom line, having infants doesn't make sense to many operators.
"If you only take two infants you can't make a living that way unless you were to charge $60 a day, so most are just not taking infants which is reducing the number of spots."
Government says it's safer
In an email statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture said the new act was developed based on consultation with the early learning sector and by reviewing other jurisdictions.
The department found that one infant in a group of five children provides for more effective supervision of a mixed group of children.
But Ingram says in her experience, that isn't necessarily true.
"If anything having two infants is better, they communicate with each other and entertain each other so well that it's almost better," she said
"It's definitely good for their development to be able to experience developmental stages with other kids in their age group."
The waiting game
For now, Ingram said she will just have to wait for her youngest son to reach preschool age before she can take on another infant.
The government said that good access to infant care is a priority to them, and that will be reflected in funding that was recently announced for early learning and child care.
But Ingram says that still won't solve the home care problem, for those who choose that route instead of a centre.
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