City of Calgary explores licensing private dayhomes citing safety, affordability

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary explores licensing private, unlicensed day homes'
City of Calgary explores licensing private, unlicensed day homes
The City of Calgary could get into the child care business by licensing private dayhomes. As Tomasia DaSilva reports, some believe it will improve safety and accessibility, but not affordability. – Apr 26, 2022

The City of Calgary is exploring licensing private dayhomes.

Under a proposal brought forward last year, the City is considering a municipal business license for unlicensed home-based child care providers (also known as private dayhomes).

Cynthia Paralta, owner of Pingo’s Dayhome, has been caring for Calgary children for the past five years. She told Global News she knows the importance of following all of the provincial rules — even though she’s not licensed.

“If I’m following all the regulations, I’m ok, my children are ok — my families are ok.”

Calgary day home operator welcomes possible changes. Global Calgary

Despite being private, the owner of the bilingual dayhome likes the possibility of the city overseeing her and others. She added that it will hopefully make child care more affordable, accessible and most importantly — safer.

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“I think it could be a good opportunity for all the great caregivers in private dayhomes to follow the standards set out by governments,” Paralta said.

“If the municipality is going to help us, I think it’s going to be a huge benefit for all of us.”

A provincial group representing the private dayhome sector is also on board with the move.

“It’s positive yes,” the CEO of Embolden Private Dayhome Community Danielle Bourdin said.

Bourdin told Global News the city’s proposal could help improve basic safety standards and create more available spots. However, she does not expect it to improve affordability for parents who choose private child care.

Right now in Alberta, unlicensed home-based child care operators do not qualify to offer government subsidies or grants and Bourdin doesn’t expect that to change with this shift.

“But there is a possibility that it could open a door that could allow funding in the unlicensed sector in the future.”

There will also likely be a cost to private dayhome operators to be licensed with the city.

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Paralta said she is willing to pay, but there could be a tradeoff.

“It could be another issue, that I need to add that fee to my families because I cannot absorb that fee,” she said. “We’ll see how much it is and what could be the benefit for me.”

One of those benefits, according to Bourdin, is the increase in respect.

“The benefit to providers is to legitimize their business,” she said. “And to say, ‘I’m not just the babysitter down the street. I do have a legitimate dayhome business.'”

The city of Calgary looks for public input into licensing home-based child care. Global Calgary

The notice of motion has gone to city administration to investigate. As part of the process, the city is engaging with child care providers and parents who use child care services. Signs have been put up in various communities, advising stakeholders of a survey and online workshops available.

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Administration will report back to Council in July 2022.

Any home-based child care providers who are registered with a provincially licensed Family Day Home Agency do not require a municipal business license. It will also not be required for nannies, babysitters or informal child care arrangements provided by family, friends or neighbours.

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