Don't let fear of change derail modernizing child care

Saltwire, January 29, 2022

Excerpt: "Amid the controversy surrounding Nova Scotia’s plans to modernize its early-learning and child-care services, at least all sides agree there are problems.

There are not enough licensed programs for young children. Options for families in rural and minority communities, and for children needing special supports are particularly scarce. What programs exist charge more than most parents can afford. Operators have difficulty attracting and keeping staff, and because qualified educators are hard to find, the quality of programming children receive is often substandard.  

The depth of the challenges has been documented in consultations and studies conducted by successive governments, academics, unions and child-care organizations. The solutions proposed have also been consistent: more child-care capacity and more money to pay educators are needed. Program leaders want time to focus on supporting their staff and families, rather than being mired in administration and fundraising.  

Then in the spring of 2021, the federal budget announced a financial remedy available to the provinces and territories with two broad conditions: reduce parent fees to $10 a day and expand capacity using non-profit or public providers. Providing jurisdictions tabled plans that met these broad conditions, they received their share of the funding; in Nova Scotia’s case, $605-million over the next five years, with a commitment to add 9,500 new spaces."

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