The City of Peterborough is proposing to cease operating its child care programs, effectively closing two centres and two school programs by next June.
On Thursday, the city announced a proposed restructuring that would see the city cease operations of the Pearson Day Care Centre and the Peterborough Childcare Centre along with two before- and after-school programs at Edmison Heights and Westmount public schools, effective June 26, 2020 – coinciding with the end of the school year. Currently, there are 88 spaces at the centres along with 209 spaces at the school programs that serve approximately 280 children.
The closures would result in the elimination of approximately 30 city staff positions in the four child care programs plus some additional on-call staff, the city stated.
According to a staff report to be presented to city council, the city began child care delivery in 1968 when it opened Pearson Child Care. The report says 80 per cent of spaces today are delivered by third-party organizations.
The staff report says the city can save up to $570,962 annually.
By reinvesting the funding to support fee subsidies and operating grants into community-based child care programs, the city anticipates the number of child care spaces in the community will ultimately be maintained or increased through the restructuring.
“Given the substantial budget pressures expected in 2020 and the province’s changes to funding for Children’s Services starting in 2020, we feel it’s necessary to look at restructuring how we administer Children’s Services to maximize the number of child care spaces while minimizing the impact on taxpayers,” stated Sandra Clancy, the city’s chief administrative officer.
As the administrator for children’s services for the city and Peterborough County, the city supports 3,745 licensed child care spaces, with the majority of spaces operated by community-based child care providers.
The city is supporting an expansion of child care spaces in the community through the provincial government’s Child Care Expansion Plan initiative, which was launched in 2017. There are 256 new spaces being created and subsidized by that program in the city and county.
The city says the project was originally 100 per cent funded by the province but the provincial government recently announced that it will reduce its funding that supports system expansion to 80 per cent beginning in January 2020.
The city estimates that the provincial funding for children’s services for the city and county will be reduced by $425,000 in 2020 with further funding changes expected as the province phases in reductions over three years.
Families impacted by the closure of the city’s directly operated child care programs in June 2020 can use the centralized Child Care Waitlist and Registry to help find alternative child care. Staff will also work with families to assist in the relocation of their children to other child care programs.
City council is to consider the plan during its general committee meeting at city hall on Monday, Sept. 9. There are no public delegations at the meeting. Delegations can present at the next meeting on Monday, Sept. 23.
“Other municipalities have also divested themselves of directly operated programs over the years,” writes Clancy in her report.
More to come.
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