Thursday, February 26, 2009

Update on the prev post

Well I just got back from Day One of the inspection for accreditation and let me tell you, what a gong show! I found out that the heads sent 12 full binders of papers to our center, even though we only needed one. PLUS they sent out two more new versions of it, which I did not fill out because they were the same as the one I had already filled out (50 or so pages), just slightly different page format. THIS IS WHAT YOUR TAX MONEY GOES TO.

This is what happens when too much govt control is going on. You can pass it off if you want, but don't complain about it in years to come. The amount of money it must cost to produce the CDs, binders, paper, etc and then for it to be misused throughout the province (and across the country for various programs)has to be huge. How many other centers were mistakenly sent much more than they needed? We have a box of 12 books we will never need because they are already 'out of date' even though only printed in July 2008. I thought we were supposed to be trying to CONSERVE? Maybe the govt needs to start showing that they are going to conserve too before citizens are forced? Is that really an 'out-there' idea?

As well, we were informed of new policies we have to do, daily, which wastes even more time and paper. I thought my job was to be working with children and taking good care of them while their parents are at work, so they have the peace of mind their children are safe and happy. Instead, I am spending time doing reports, filling out checklists, signing paperwork, etc. Technically that takes me away from paying attention to the kids. So... is that not Wrong? Or are we supposed to hire 2 more support staff purely for these new things, and then charge the parents more for daycare fees to pay those staff members? I'm sure that idea would go down like a lead balloon. OR maybe my boss can toss in the towel after over 20 years of providing excellent quality care to young children, and leave 21 families a year without a place to put their kids (the waiting lists in my city are often longer than how many spaces a center even has!!).

This might seem minor but think about how there are thousands of centers/dayhomes in Alberta alone. Think about the paperwork each center must fill out in order to get the funding that your tax dollars are supporting. Think about the Accreditation team who arrived yesterday ONLY for my centre, stayed in a hotel last night, will stay in one again tonight, and come back to the centre tomorrow before heading home. Gas, hotel, food, Validator wages x 2 - ALL of that is covered by your tax dollars. We passed a different inspection 2 weeks ago, so what is this even for? Now times that by how many centers there are in Alberta, and then figure in how many people are running the program itself from Edmonton.

I'll remind you - it is for making centers perform over and above the basic licensing requirements. Sounds good right? I'm sure it was a great idea when it started - only giving the best centers the funding. But I ask you to sit and think about how much money is eaten up before the funding finally gets to the center.

On a slightly different topic, we learned of a new basic rule as well. We have to put an After Hours Emergency number on the door of every center. That means the PERSONAL HOME PHONE NUMBER of at least one staff member. Our inspector could not even explain why we have to do it, she just said it's a directive from Edmonton. And guess what? People from there are going to go to each and every single center in Alberta to make sure they have the number on there. We apparently can't email a photo, they are physically going to check each and every one. How much tax payer money is going to fund that little trip around the province?

Now,, we sat and wondered why we have to do this. Surely if a parent is not going to come the next day, they don't need to phone us at night, they can call in the morning when the center is open.

But then it hit me ---- I remember a news story from a year or two ago where a woman went to pick up her child (in Calgary I believe) but the center was locked and dark. Her child was IN THERE all alone. Perhaps she could not get hold of anyone and that is where this idea came from.

I get that - BUT - it is another case of One Bad Apple spoiling the bunch. Because one or two centers had a major infraction like that, EVERYONE has to conform. My boss does not want her personal home number on the outside of the building. Should that not be her choice? It's her HOME number. But she is being forced.

My thought was this - how about sending out letters to every center, and a follow up phone call, detailing that what happened at that center is NOT ACCEPTABLE and if it happens anywhere else, they will be closed down immediately and not allowed to re open. How about making the bad places accountable instead of forcing everyone else to comply, and then gobbling up tax payers' money at the same time to followup. How about sending out a reminder yearly for centers to be sure to adhere to their rules at all times. That shouldn't need to be done, but punishing thousands of other centers for ONE or maybe two centers using gross misconduct is not fair. But mainly, I am thinking of how much of the funding is going to be used up while some people drive all around Alberta checking out daycare and dayhome company signs to make sure an extra phone number is written on there. Wow.

There is so much wrong with this whole system, it's not even funny. I am only rambling about this because it goes on in EVERY socialized program and don't fool yourself into thinking it doesn't. It's no wonder our country and others are starting to drown in debt. We cannot keep up with these systems, and adding more and more people (or Czars lol) to head the programs is NOT helping. It is a massively sickening drain on resources. There really needs to be some severe shakedown.

Here is another little bonus though - not all of the funding comes from tax payers, to be fair. At the start of this in 2005, we had to pay $200 a year to be part of the Accredited Center program. This year it went to over $400. Licensing fees were $45 a year for many years, this year they were over $200. BUT guess what? Those 2-4X fees hurt the centers, which in turn hurts the children and their families. $600 is the cost of a whole space for centers in my city, which means that much less to pay staff and buy food, cleaning supplies, etc. So that's just another thing to note. My small center is not a money maker, believe me, so don't assume this is whining about profits. 65% of parent fees goes straight to staff wages. Then after paying utilities, food, etc the center is left with maybe a 15% profit at the absolute MOST. Throwing in extra costs and fees for all of these special social programs to distribute funding, and it DOES hurt the center(s). I wouldn't be surprised if my boss just decides to close down. That saddens me after how much work she put into it, but if I was her, I would not want to do this anymore.
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*** A little point to note, most of this program was put into place during the Paul Martin/Liberal time. When Harper took the helm in 2006, he changed where the remaining money was supposed to go. Instead of lining up tons and tons of red tape for people to jump through, he decided it should go straight to every family with a preschool child, so they can decide where they want to put their children. $100 a month per child under 6 for every family no matter their earnings. This seemed to be the fastest and most efficient way to get the funds flowing. All you need to do is have your child registered on your income tax, or send in one short form when you have a new child. All done,,, auto payments until they turn 6 years old. The 'red tape' set up under Harper was one piece of paper, no need to renew every year, and probably a very small amount of people at the computer screens making sure all goes as planned. Quite a difference from what we have to go through for the former funding set up before he became PM. Just some food for thought.

7 comments:

  1. Don't get me started on the waste when it comes to government make work projects. Just food for thought as far as your boss not wanting to publish her phone #. What about a pay and talk cell phone. It is only attached to the company. If it is ever gets stolen, it never gets charged for more then the minutes purchased. Also it is a separate # that your parents can call. Just some food for t that is not attached to your bosses personal address.

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  2. That's a good idea Ape. Of course that means forking out $50 or so, but I can let her know that in case she decides to do that. The inspector said a cell number would work too, as long as it's a cell you answer all the time (meaning if my boss went out anywhere, she'd have to take the cell with her). I don't know if they are going to do random calls to test places sometimes, or what.

    I understand it makes sense, but that is like assuming that every center in Alberta will be involved in serious misconduct and forget a kid. Maybe what they could have done instead is make up a different kind of sign in/sign out system to keep track of everyone. Who knows. But this one gives more chances to use funding for paying people to drive around Alberta. I looked at the accreditation site and there are over 400 centers listed, and not everyone is accredited yet so that means more centers than that. What I can't figure out is dayhomes. If someone goes to pick up their child and no one is home, there is no business sign out front - it's a private home! So are the home owners going to be forced to put their number on the outside of their house? Talk about freebie day for telemarketers.

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  4. I attended an info session last fall for daycare owners/operators & they actually said they made the phone number on the door policy to prevent people from calling the police & the media if their kid was locked alone in a centre. To prevent bad PR for daycare.
    I moved from the States to Edmonton in 2007 & I've been surprised at the level of regulation & education expected. phew. I run a dayhome now & it is a lot to navigate. On top of that, I can't imagine trying to start my own daycare- how do new daycares hire staff when they aren't accredited yet & don't have the higher wage top up? I wouldn't want to work for an unaccredited daycare because of the wage difference.

    I'm also ticked that the gov't pays less subsidy to parents sending their kid to a dayhome than to a daycare.

    Obviously, there has been some huge lobbying by corporate owned daycares to make policies so it harder to start a new daycare, harder for small daycares to survive & to cut out dayhomes.

    And check out this little corporate welfare deal going on... trailers put outside schools to be daycares... http://www.child.alberta.ca/home/705.cfm

    Anything to pinch out competition from the little fish.

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  5. Hi :) Yes after my boss told me that the licensing officer did not give a reason for the phone number policy, I thought for a minute & then remembered about the young child left in a centre & all the staff had gone home (if I remember right, it was actually a practicum student? If the student was alone that is an infraction even without forgetting a child!). So I said "I bet it's because of things like that, because they could not get hold of the director and had to call the police". First off, I totally understand that. That was a ridiculous thing to have happened and I am a parent too and would have lost my damn mind. But - it seems to make more sense to me to send out a directive that tells centers that is NOT acceptable and if it happens to anyone again, they will lose thier license and not get it back. Or maybe even come up with a standard system for signing kids out, who knwos. But my boss' concerns were things like - she also has a life. She is not going to be home every single day after work forever and ever in case someone needs to call. Instead, she is very stringent about us following policy and we know if something like that happens, we are gone and never working with kids again if she can help it. What happens if a parent needs to call that number and no one answers? It does not solve anything at all. So again, it should come down to preventing the situation from happening in the first place! duh!

    As for the differences in subsidy, I don't know about the bigger cities but in my town, dayhomes are a lot cheaper than daycares. If the same amount went to both, all subsidized dayhome kids would be attending for Free. Right now, my center charges about $575 a month for full time care and the subsidy was $537 last time I checked (I'm on Mat leave right now), so parents only had to pay about $40 (keeping in mind they also get $100 from the fed govt so they are getting it for free anyway). But if a dayhome in my city and other smaller areas got the full amount, all of them would be free even before the $100 UCCB thing. So that might be it. I am assuming they take some sort of average price for care and balance it out for the subsidy across the province?

    Many years ago, my friend was paying over $700 for care in Calgary when I was only paying $475 in Medicine Hat. But then taking into account the different standards of living for each city, it balanced out (a bit lol). Someone getting $537 in Pincher Creek would be totally different than getting it in Calgary so I *think* that is the difference. If it became a municipal thing instead of provincial, then things could be adjusted better (maybe lol). When my oldest was in a dayhome, I got $300 for subsidy and paid $80 myself. When he moved into my daycare, I got $380 for subsidy but since the fee was higher I paid $125 a month myself. So techinically I actually got a higher percentage for dayhome care than for daycare. Not sure how it all works now tho but I would imagine it's similar??

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  6. I just took a peek at the 'daycares close to schools' page, and yeah it seems like a lot of funding is going in that direction... but I can see both sides. Some schools do not have Out of School care (or it's very limited in spaces) and parents need help on early wednesdays/fridays and from 3-6pm quite often. At my kids' school, they have a program but they can't take everyone. Some kids attend a daycare that happens to be kitty-korner across the street however they have to cross two busy roads to get there. Many daycares are nowhere near a school so parents have to find someone else to drop their child off, or cut their work hours, etc. But then I also see that it comes down to choice. I moved last February in order to be very close to the school and my work (about a 10 min walk from the school). I've held a lower paying job and put off buying a home and things like that in order to make sure my jobs and my kids' schooling work around each other. I made choices that centered around my kids instead of around my work. Some people can't do that - or choose not to. So diverting funds for people who don't want to change a few things in their lives isn't really fair for those that do. Or like my small center that has been trying for years to get funding to expand a few spaces and cannot - we get left aside because we are not close enough to a school to get funding like that. It's a bit of a mess trying to find all the ways to divide up this money, that's for sure!

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  7. lol one more from me --- I went to the subsidy site and see that the rates were increased again Sept 08. Going by that, and the amounts in my city for average costs, the subsidy can pay up to 85% of daycare fee, and 87% of dayhome fees (avg cost). I am not sure what the current costs are in Calgary but the last figures I found were $700 for dayhome and $800 for daycare (avg)... going by those numbers, subsidy would pay for 68% of daycare and 62% of dayhome, so still pretty comparable. If daycare fees avg higher than that now, then dayhomes would actually be getting a higher%. But again, that is all guesswork. But those are the figures to think about when figuring out susbidies - if dayhomes avg less, getting a lower subsidy payment does not really give them that much less than what daycares receive... Clear as mud? LOL.

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