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Child care fee refund grants coming to some Sask. parents in new deal with Ottawa

Click to play video: '$10-a-day child care coming to Saskatchewan'
$10-a-day child care coming to Saskatchewan
According to the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association, the average parent in the province pays between $650 to $1,250 a month per child for child care. But with a new deal, that cost should soon drop dramatically – Aug 14, 2021

The Saskatchewan and federal governments announced Friday that funding will be provided to licensed child care facilities, reducing parent’s fees by about half, on average, retroactive to July 1.

This is the first step toward making child care more affordable for children aged 0 to 5, says a Saskatchewan government press release.

Both governments previously committed to reaching a goal of $10 a day licensed child care in Saskatchewan by 2025-26.

Read more: Saskatchewan announces agreement for $10-a-day child care

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Saskatchewan Education Minister Dustin Duncan said the province is committed to making child care more affordable for families.

“Through reducing fees and delivering more child care options, we are continuing to build a stronger Saskatchewan for families across the province,” Duncan said.

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The funding will be provided though Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement signed in August 2021.

Families with children under age six, in provincially licensed child care, are eligible for the parent fee reduction grant, which will range from $306/month up to $395/month depending on the age of the child and the type of child care.

The money will be supplied directly to licensed facilities and is to be used to reduce parent fees.

Depending on the child’s age and the fees parents have paid, they can expect a refund for a portion of the child care fees paid going back to July 1.

The province used the example of a parent with a toddler in licensed child care since July 1 that paid $700 a month. That parent could expect a refund of just under $2,000.

Starting Feb. 1, both governments say the fees parents pay out of pocket “will be significantly reduced.” Grants to lower parents fees will be provided to licensed homes and child care centres based on the average provincial parent fees and actual enrollments. The responsibility of distributing funds to eligible families for the retroactive component will fall on the child care provider.

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The actual amounts of retroactive payment will vary based on what each provider currently charges.

“Addressing affordability is an exciting initial step in building an Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) system in Saskatchewan,” Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association Executive Director Georgia Lavallee said.

“High quality ELCC is a right of all children, which many do not have access to, due to high fees. Children in Saskatchewan will have equitable opportunities to the best start in their lives reducing ELCC fees,” Lavelle added.

Federal Minister of Families and Children Karina Gould made the announcement via a Zoom call with children and parents from YMCA Regina.

“They were just talking about how this is going to be such a big impact for them, and what their family is able to do financially. I mean, if you can imagine between $300 and $350 a month that you’re going to see a reduction in your child care bill, that’s a lot of money for families who may be able to enroll their children that they weren’t able to before or save up for something else they need,” Gould told Global News.

The parent fee reduction grant will only be provided to child care facilities licensed with the Education Ministry.

“The ministry continues to encourage existing unlicensed child care providers to become licensed, so families can start benefiting from the fee reduction. Upon becoming licensed, currently operating unlicensed providers will be eligible to receive funding to reduce parent fees retroactive to the date of their completed application submission,” the release stated.

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Gould said it’s important for the grant to be applied to only licensed facilities, as those are the ones regulated by the province. She said one of the aspects of the child care agreement between the province and federal government is working together to increase the number of licensed spaces by 28,000 over the next five years.

Parents or caregivers who have questions about the grant can contact the early years branch at the ministry by email at canadawideelccagreementinquiries@gov.sk.ca or by phone at 1-855-824-9419.

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