cI was going to write about this a couple of months ago, but don't think I did. In light of the promises of bailout money for people experiencing mortgage problems, etc in the US I wanted to talk about what has happened in various sectors in Canada when receiving 'promised' funds. I work in childcare and have since 1993 (Germany). I have seen all sorts of govt programs come and go. For instance, when I first started in Canada, the govt gave centers $200 per child space to help cover costs of food, new equipment, or even to enhance staff wages, etc. It was just automatically given after proving your licensing (which was one piece of paper stating the number of spaces). That money gradually decreased,,, well not really all that gradually. By 1998 the money was completely cut off. Zero govt funding to centers. Fast forward to about 2005, the Liberal govt set aside funds for each province to use for registered and approved child care centers. However, it was not as easy as in the past. Welcome the birth of the Alberta Accreditation program (which actually has a much longer name I cannot be bothered to type). In order to receive these wonderful govt funds, centers and dayhome agencies had to go through a new Accreditation process over and above the licensing process.
In order to be licensed each year, an inspector visits at least twice and sits in to watch center activity. A report is written and submitted and these are collected at the end of the year for licensing purposes. As well, the Health Inspector and Fire Inspector must visit and submit reports. So, all registered centers and dayhomes already have these hoops to jump through in order to keep their businesses running. Now - Accrediation. Every three years this needs to be done (my center did it in 2005 and just finished 99% of it last month again) in order to still receive funds such as staff wage enhancement, technical grants, new equipment grants, and professional development grants for staff. I can see the reasons, making sure the center 'deserves' the money however, if they are already licensed and already go through inspections each and every year, several times a year, why do NEW inspections have to happen by these newly appointed inspectors who are completely separate from the licensing officers? It is unreal!
In order to start up a center, reams of paperwork must be submitted, which of course is normal. Philosophy, Discipline, Food, etc plans. This has already been done by every center. But for Accreditation it has to be done again, and every so often a new policy pops up from accreditation that must be added to the policies, and adhered to, in order to receive the funding. These policies are over and above the govt minimums listed for licensing purposes. In order to get the staff an extra $1-3 per hour, new policies have to be adhered to. In order to receive $1000 a year for professional development, new hoops have to be jumped through. Apparently the goal of Accreditation is to have centers operating above the minimum standards set by the govt. But it seems more and more that these new standards will become the new licensing policies.
There is now talk of requiring all center staff to hold a Level 2 or higher. Level 2 means a year of college costing $8000 to $12000. Level ones are most often used as casuals, support staff, break coverage, etc but in small centers like mine, they are also used to work directly with the children full time because they have over 20 years experience between those 2 staff members (I am one of them!). Within a few short years (or less) we could lose our jobs because in order to receive Accreditation funding, the center must only hire Level 2 or Level 3 staff (Lev 3 is a 2 year college diploma program). Fired in order to adhere to policies for receiving this wonderful nice govt funding? WHAT? Level 1 is a 60 hour course at the college that you can get for free if you are going to work with children. I have taken half of the Level 2 course but the cost was not worth the small raise I would receive afterwards so I stopped. I received 80-98% marks in each course but could lose my job after over 15 years of direct child care experience, in favor of someone who has 1 month experience but holds the coveted Level 2. All because of govt funding promises??
THIS is what can easily happen when the govt sets aside money to hand out to those who are struggling. Don't be fooled into thinking you will get a cheque in the mailbox and all your troubles will be solved.
Another policy that will be coming into effect in the next couple of years is that all centers must provide all meals for the children. Currently, my center uses a bag lunch (from parents) 4 days a week and provides a hot lunch every Friday, plus all snacks. If we are forced to provide a daily hot lunch, who is going to feel the hit? THE PARENTS. Our monthly fees will have to increase sustantially in order to comply with the new policy of providing hot lunch. And other centers across the province will be forced to do the same. Some already provide a hot lunch but their monthly fees are up to $100 a month more than our's. Yet another policy sneaking in under the guise of receiving friendly govt cash.
This happens, it is already happening around the world and already happens in the US, but it is going to become more widespread with the passing of this bill. Do you think they will just flap the money around without picking and choosing who it goes to? Do you think it will really be that simple? NO of course not. I just spent 3 MONTHS collecting the documents needed for our 3-year 're accreditation', but we also have to send in a pile of forms on a yearly basis to show what we have accomplished in that year, and why we should continue receiving funding. We are just now waiting for a date for the inspection (which comes a month after the Licensing inspection which we passed with flying colors), and then if approved we will be done that particular dance for 3 years (but not done the monthly and yearly paperwork involved). I feel really bad for bigger centers which have a hell of a lot more paperwork than we do, in order to get a couple bucks extra per hour for their staff.
govt money = hoop to jump through = you might get lucky and be approved, but it comes at a price
Another point to note: Parents get talked into the program, being assured all their children's carers have top grades, but parents don't want to or cannot afford to pay for this higher level of car, so what's going to happen then? Perhaps the govt will get involved in private carers like it does in Britain? Even a neighbor looking after your child has to be a Registered Child Minder there. I know because I lived there and my friendly neighbor offered to watch my infant son while I was at work but we had to stop because she was not Registered. Would you like that kind of involvement? Even your great nanny Margie not being able to care for your child unless she was registered? THIS is what happens with too much govt involvement!!! But people are allowing it to happen and will complain about it later, you just watch!