Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just An Example

... here is an example of how some govt programs and/or the recipients can cripple a business. A local daycare center closed it's doors suddenly and shockingly on Friday June 25 2010 with no notice other than a letter saying they were closing at the end of that day - handed out to parents when they picked up their children. The largest center in town. You can imagine the panic for working parents who had only 2 days to find a new spot.

Govt funding is not the only reason the center closed, as our newspaper and rumors I've heard on the grapevine have told me (court cases involving former staff/wages). But in today's paper, the CEO informed readers of another problem - subsidized parents not getting their forms in on time and the business losing a great deal of money. TWO THIRDS of those parents did not do their forms on time. holy cow...

Anyway here is how it works. If a parent approaches us for care starting July 2010, they pick up our registration forms along with a form to take to the govt office stating we have a space for their child. Then the parent is supposed to fill out a subsidy application and hand it in. Meanwhile, we look after their child each and every day and sit and wait for payment. The end of July comes and we submit paperwork showing that the child was there the correct amount of hours to receive full subsidy. Sounds fine right?

But if the parent did not take the forms in, we do not get paid for the whole month of July. Yes technically then the parent owes us the $600, but since they are low income, they can't or won't pay. Bingo bango - the center is out money and we have already provided childcare for an entire month. This happens a lot, with multiple children.

Currently there is really no way around this. We have filed with Small Claims court in the past, only to be told there were so many creditors on the list ahead of us, we were pretty much out of luck collecting the money we were owed. If this happens with multiple families at the same time, the center is often out the same amount of money that pays one staff member's entire wage. The bigger the center, the more possible it will be multiple staff members' wages that the center is short. It is very difficult.

And it ticks me off to no end! We have to take subsidized children or we could face discrimination lawsuits. There are a lot of subsidized parents who do all the paperwork on time and things flow smoothly, but there are too many who do not!

It angers me because this is a tax payer funded program that is supposedly going to help families get out of their poverty hole. In my center, if a family qualifies for full subsidy, they only have to pay $84 out of their own pocket for  full time, monday to friday all day, childcare. WOW. What a bonus that is! That's less than $1/hour. However --- they really don't even pay that because they get $100 a month for each child under 6 from the federal Universal Child Care Benefit program so really, the govt is paying these families $16 a month to put their kids in my center, with no money coming from their own pocket at all. But then - we don't find out until the end of the month that the parent didn't bother to file the papers.

My boss calls the provincial building all the time to check up on parents, and then tells them they HAVE to get those forms in, by writing letters and speaking directly to them. We get 'Im taking them downtown tomorrow' ALL the time. But it never happens. The next thing you know, the parent buggers off at the end of the month and we are out $$$. Who can run a business like that?

We can't really say that a child cannot start until the papers are filed because the office can lag and take a week or more to get it approved, longer if the parent made a mistake and did not fill it in properly. The child is supposed to be at our center so that they fill the 100 hour minimum for full subsidy. Do you see where this is confusing? It makes us not want to take any subsidized kids, we've lost SO much money over the years... but that would be discriminatory against all low income families and that cannot be allowed either. *Sigh*.

So here we are, with the largest center in town losing a minimum of $15,000 a month (that's 10% of projected income) due to parents not filling out forms on time. They were open around 30 years and you can imagine the debt the center had to swallow in that time. It does not surprise me in the least that they finally went under. And I know that my own boss at another center has taken out small loans and paid us with her credit card in the past because not enough parents paid on time or the govt funding we did get was late....

This is just one small example of how people want help, but they don't want to do anything to get it. They think it's too hard to fill out forms and provide a copy of their tax return in order to get given $550 a month from tax payers. EXCUSE ME? They are being handed money to help them out, but they can't be bothered to file a 3-4 page form. It drives me crazy. I was subsidized in the past, I've filled out the forms, they can be a pain in the butt, but it's even easier now... so why aren't they doing it? I wonder how many other social programs go through this muck and waste time and energy and cause lost wages for businesses/groups that are trying to help out.

10 comments:

  1. William in Ajax said...

    This CEO is a crybaby, suck it up buttercup, is he/she in buisness to make a living, or is he/she just looking for easy government money and it isn't comming fast enough?

    Theres a simple solution, post a policy statement at the entrance, all forms to be filled out or NO-DAYCARE, hospital emergency rooms do it, make appointments for parents, have/help parents fill out all forms right there on the premises, send them in himself, follow up with a designated liason officer at welfare...sheesh...
    I'm thinking this CEO shouldn't be in buisness at all, relying on others never realy works in the buisness world.
    Real CEOs don't go crying to the nanny state, wanting a kiss to make the boo boo better.

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  2. I wish it was that easy. I've been working in daycare since 1994 and my center has had the same problems. We cannot send in the forms on behalf of the parents because they need to sign in person at some point, in front of one of their office witnesses. We have filled out forms for many families with as much info as possible, but the rest is personal stuff such as SIN, Income Tax record line numbers etc. It's not as simple as name address telephone number. Copies of 3 months worth of past pay statements from work, etc. Daycares cannot provide any of that information on behalf of a parent nor can they sign the paperwork declarations of course.

    I agree to a point, winging and whining for help but it's was more in regards to PARENTS not getting the necessary stuff done in order to receive the funding. The funding is sent directly to the center on behalf of the parent, whether it comes from welfare or Daycare subsidy offices.

    That is what it is going to come to for everyone though - telling them that they are not allowed to bring their child until we have had confirmation from subsidy that their paperwork has been received - though that is always unfair to people who are honest and trustworthy and would have to find alternate care for a week or more until subsidy get's IT'S act together and processes faster.

    that's what I personally don't like about this whole situation, as usual it's people who do NOT buck or screw with the system who get the short end of the stick.

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  3. Oh and just to add... other centers have started not taking more than 2 subsidized children because of how long it takes for the money to be reimbursed. If they are caught out, they could very well face a human rights tribunal for discrimination against lower income families. It is a risk they are willing to take though. They ask parents over the phone if they are subsidized or not, as part of their regular list of questions, and anyone who says 'yes' gets put to the bottom of the waiting list, or not put on it at all.

    These are not businesses begging to suckle at the govt teat, these are businesses being forced to receive funding unless they willfully discriminate and do not take any low income children at all. If a low income parent signs up, the money for their child's spot will come from the govt, either welfare or children's services, and that's it. No other way unless the single parent has the other parent foot the bill (very rarely happens, but we do see it from time to time).

    We also see single parents who get subsidy but lie to their ex spouses and tell them they pay the full fee and tack it onto their child support payments. So they get over $500 a month subsidy from tax payers, another $100 a month from federal tax payers, and over $500 a month from the poor ex who doesn't know what is going on... and we are not allowed to tell anyone about that because it is considered a personal issue not affecting the child. We could try ratting out more people, but it is considered 'heresay'.

    All in the name of helping the poor. Just thought I would let a few fellow tax payers know where their money is going sometimes ;) Money in the multi millions of dollars a MONTH in alberta. Just so ya know :)

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  4. William in Ajax said..

    I see your point...

    "We cannot send in the forms on behalf of the parents because they need to sign in person at some point, in front of one of their office witnesses."

    Fill out all you can, send them in, then put the blame where it belongs, on the welfare office witnesses.
    Shame them into performing their job, diligently, expeditiously!
    We are talking about child care right!

    Post a list weekly (no names) of how many children are about to lose their daycare spaces, due to welfare indifference, organise with other daycare centres to publish the list.
    Become pro-active if not for the children then at least for your own paycheck.

    Also I suspect costs associated to a titled CEO have a lot to do with how much it should cost to run a daycare, do you think the manager of a Tims supervising 30 to 40 employees could call himself a CEO and demand the requisite pay scale?

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  5. Do it like Blue Cross, pay first, cheque later. Have the parent pay the money up front the first month, and then they get reimbursed by the government. I bet those forms would get filled out in no time! Or kids would be left at home during the day, I'm not sure which option those parents would choose.

    The problem is that the parents do not have to take any responsibility to get their kid in daycare. The kid gets taken care of whether the parents fill out the forms of not.

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  6. Thanks for the tips. We might have to resort to posting a letter in full view of all. We were going to take the first step of writing a general letter to all of the late parents and give a total of how much we are currently owed (which is more than my month's wage), and let them know flat out that over 65% of monthly income from parent fees goes straight to staff wages. I have to type up the letter so I was planning on putting in info such as we have the lowest staff turnover of any center in the city and this adds to the well-being and care of their children. (We've had the same staff members since 1999 which is REALLY good considering the usually high turnover for other centers). But in order to keep things that way, staff wages need to be met and it is not going to happen if this continuous cycle of non-payment keeps occurring.

    But if that doesn't work, then maybe we will post a letter listing how many families are delinquent with fees and stick it right where they have to sign their kids in.

    We don't want to do that because we are there for the kids first and foremost - but we all also have children of our own (and grandchildren) to care for and raise and we cannot do that if we are not getting paid. End of story. I could make more money working 100 yards away at a fast food restaurant but I believe in what I am doing, I love working with young children, and I do not want to have to leave my post because so many families think it's not important to pay for child care.

    What's reallllllly noteable here is that 99% of the parents who do not pay on time are SUBSIDIZED! How can you not pay $84 a month?? It irritates me. In the last 5 years we have only had 2 'full fee' parents who were late with their fees. Notice I said 'late' - they did pay, they were just behind and eventually caught up. If you are already receiving hundreds of dollars from the govt coffers, how can you excuse not paying the tiny bit that's left? If 10 people do that, my boss is out over half my wages each month. It's ridiculous.

    As for requiring fee up front, I wish it were that simple. If they are low income in the first place, they most likely are not going to fork over $600 at the start of the month. We could require it - however that would most likely end up with the children not coming to their center and those kids are often (according to studies) the ones that most benefit from being in a preschool/daycare program. They get 3 meals a day, lots of socialization, field trips, learning activities, etc. We can't even get a $50 deposit from most of those families so I can't see them paying the whole thing.

    It's frustrating. People seem to think that daycares make a ton of money but they forget staff wages. I only make $11 an hour, so it's not like I am raking it in LOL. But with 4 staff making that for a full month, that is 65-85% of our monthly income depending how many children are in care each month.

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  7. Oh and a PS about the CEO - this center was run out of a church and I don't know about the top wages, but I do know that last year all staff took a paycut to try to help the financial situation, and now that the church is on the hook for all of these fees and costs, the two ministers are going without pay. Most of the board members were church members. A lot are even volunteer spots. I worked at that center in the past and barely made above minimum wage and many people had other employment to supplement (I worked at 3 diff places at that time). It's not a 'big box' center where they run a whole bunch of different places and roll around in money, it was a not-for-profit center that had to pay pretty average wages for all and turn the rest of the money (what little was left) back into the center each month.

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  8. oh and to keep blathering - my main point is how many people receive aid from various agencies and then do not do their part. When I was a single mom of one, then two, I always got my stuff in on time and paid on the 1st because next to rent, I felt that childcare was most important. I could not work if I didn't have anywhere to put my kids so that was my second bill to pay every month. I paid a lot more too cos way back then, we didn't get $500. I paid $125 a month out of pocket and did not get near as much for child tax benefit and UCCB as they do now. It seems to me, from my 16+ years experience dealing with various aid programs, that a GREAT number of people don't give a crap and the % keeps increasing. The more money that is given out, the less responsibility people are taking. It is aggravating since we all have to pay for that.

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  9. Sometimes one has to wonder about such parents. Why are they so dumb?
    MariaS

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  10. It frustrates me and I try not to judge people - however we just had a new parent/child start at the center last week (one of the very few we could take from the closed center) and her son came in decked out in Ed Hardy gear... and she is subsidized. Okay maybe granny and grampa bought the clothes but then she recognized another child there and said 'oh I know his mom, she buys a lot of my son's old clothes'. This other mom is from a dual income family, non-subsized, and her son comes in head to toe Ed Hardy and other top brands all the time. The new mom said that half that boy's clothes are probably from her.... well unless she is selling stuff that someone else bought for her child, she is capable of buying high end clothing for a young boy, but gets daycare subsidy. That kind of thing aggravates me to the core because everyone else in the province gets some of their pay taken away to help support people like that.

    One pair of Ed Hardy jeans can cost more than an entire month of what this particular woman will be paying for her son in daycare. We all pay the other $550 every month, month after month, year after year. That does make me judgmental because I do not see how that is fair or 'just' at all. Why should I buy clothes at Walmart or second hand stores in order to help buy expensive clothes for a subsidized child? I don't get it and as the years go on and I see it more and more, I get less and less thrilled about the whole system.

    I see young moms on the bus all the time, getting on or off at the subsidized housing estates, with a blackberry in their hand. Top of the line baby strollers, expensive clothing, etc. WTH? It's really bizarre.

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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