Late government payments causing major financial burden for Okanagan daycares
It was put in place last spring in an effort to offset daycare costs.
The provincial government’s child care fee reduction initiative can reduce daycare costs for parents by up to $350 each month.
The money is kicked in by the government and sent directly to daycares.
But many daycares across B.C, including the Okanagan, are experiencing payment delays, saying the government is failing to deliver on its promise.
“With our contract with the government with the childcare reduction fee initiative, we are supposed to receive our payments on the first of the month,” said Paulyn Chua, the owner of the Lil’ Dancing Owls daycare in Kelowna.
This month, Chua’s payment will be almost a week late.
She said the delay is causing a financial burden.
“I have financial obligations that are due at the beginning of the month and I have to cover those personally,” Chua said. “Employee benefits, my mortgage, and a lot of the insurances that come up on the first.”
Another Kelowna daycare, Little Owl Academy, has also reported similar delays.
Little Owl Academy has two locations, providing 250 child care spaces.
Owner Amanda Worms said for her, the government payments amount to about $22,000 every month.
The delays, she said, are forcing her to dip into her personal line of credit to cover expenses.
“How is this acceptable?” she said in an email to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “Who’s paying the interest on my personal line of credit, which I had to use to pay my staff . . . which is not big enough to also cover all of my leases for our buses and Facilities.”
Worms, who has yet to receive a response from the ministry, said in the email that she’s beyond angry, frustrated, humiliated, saddened and, frankly, fed up.
“I should be worrying right now about what my teachers are doing for curriculum. I should be spending time ensuring my mock licensing inspections are done. I should be creating new spaces,” she went on to say. “But I’m not doing any of that. I am trying to crack the unbreakable code to getting paid on time by this government and find the magical black pit of money that you seem to believe exists in every childcare provider backyard.”
Global News contacted the ministry as well. In its response, the ministry acknowledged the problem.
“It is unacceptable that they are having to pay out of pocket due to this delay,” Brendan Wright, senior public affairs officer for the ministry wrote in the email to Global News. “We are working to address this issue and improve our processes to ensure that this does not happen again.
“We have recently doubled the number of ministry staff reviewing enrolment reports, and expect this to speed up the verification and payment process.”
Chua hopes the payment process improves, otherwise she said she will have to consider opting out of the program.
But that too, comes with a risk of losing clients.
“They are used to having this reduction and they now have to budget more again for their child care fees and why would they stick with us, if they can go somewhere else that’s still opted in,” she said. “So it’s a huge concern.”
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