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Region to start waiting list for child care subsidy

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Barrick, Frances
Publication Date: 
11 Aug 2010

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Families in Waterloo Region seeking subsidies to offset child-care expenses will soon have to go on a waiting list.

"It is going to be a hardship for some families," Nancy Dickieson, regional director of children's services, said in an interview. "It could impact on their ability to go to work or attend school."

The waiting list starts Aug. 23 and families receiving day-care subsidies up until that date will not be affected, regional councillors decided Tuesday.

In 2007, the Ontario government moved from a means test to an income test to determine eligibility for child-care expenses, which increased the number of local families qualifying for this financial assistance.

This month, 2,900 children receive subsidized daycare, 200 more than the region budgeted resulting in an accumulated deficit of $800,000. At its peak in March, there were 3,050 subsidized children.

"We are exceeding our budget to meet the demand," Dickieson told councillors.

"We have about 200 new families coming in every month and only about 180 leaving," she said.

The waiting list will continue until the number of subsidized children returns to 2,700, which Dickieson expects will take two months.

The last time the region had a waiting list for subsidized daycare was about 15 years ago, she said.

The region's budget for subsidized child care is $14 million, of which regional taxpayers pay $ 2 million. The rest is funded by the province.

The region will cover its $800,000 deficit from a $1.5 million provincial grant geared to helping cover the cost of new non-profit centres.

The waiting list has its own set of priorities.

For instance, families with a special-needs child or on social assistance, or a single working parent will get priority over a single parent working on a graduate degree or two working parents.

The move to an income test to determine eligibility is considered less intrusive because a family's assets and expenses are removed from the equation.

Under these new rules, families with lower incomes and greater child-care costs receive larger subsidies.

-reprinted from the Waterloo Region Record

Entered Date: 
11 Aug 2010
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