Parents can save up to $550 per month on childcare benefits starting December 1

The federal and state money means a family with a baby and a three-year-old in group care can save up to an additional $11,940 per year.

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Parents struggling with crippling childcare costs finally have reason to celebrate. They will soon save up to $550 a month after the county and federal government revealed details about their affordable childcare plan on Friday.

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“To all parents, I want to say to you as a mother ourselves, we feel you,” said Katrina Chen, BC’s state minister for childcare during a press conference at the Cascade Heights YMCA Child Care in Burnaby. “For the parents struggling with childcare, we feel you. We understand that childcare is critical to our economy, to our young children and to the well-being of families.”

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Friday’s much-anticipated announcement is the result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2021 budget pledge of $30 billion over five years to nationalize childcare and make all spaces $10 a day by 2026.

BC was one of the first provinces to sign a childcare deal with the federal government in July 2021, agreeing to spend a total of $3.2 billion on childcare in the province over five years.

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The amount that parents save varies depending on the type of childcare and the age of their child. Parents whose children attend an accredited group day care save $550 per month for infant/toddler care under the age of three, $445 per month for children aged three to five, and $220 per month for out-of-school care for kindergarten children .

Nursery parents save $400 per month for infant/toddler care, $440 per month for children ages three to five, and $260 per month for out-of-school care for children in preschool.

That means, for example, that a family with a 10-month-old and a 3-year-old in group care can save up to $11,940 per year. The government said this will lower the average childcare allowance to $21 per day, compared to an average of $53 per day before government subsidies.

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The savings, which will take effect Dec. 1, come in addition to the county’s commission reduction initiative, which already cuts fees for licensed group daycare centers by $350 per month for infant/toddler care and $100 per month for children ages three to five.

That adds up to a total saving of $900 per month for parents whose children attend the most expensive forms of childcare. About 69,000 children are expected to receive the discount.

Parents do not have to apply for financing, which is not means-tested. It will be automatically applied to daycare centers that are already enrolled in the rate reduction initiative, which the county says is 96 percent of childcare places.

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The county will also require childcare organizations receiving the rate cut to agree to a three percent per year cap on their price increases, to ensure centers don’t inflate their rates to offset savings for parents.

Karina Gould, federal minister for families, children and social development, who joined Chen and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside in Burnaby for the announcement, said the funding will help women stay or return to work. Because high child benefits disproportionately affect mothers, many of them have chosen to stay at home with their children because the cost of childcare exceeds their wages.

“I like to talk about childcare as a home game. Because it’s good for our kids, it’s good for our families and it’s really good for our economy,” she said.

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Sharon Gregson, spokesperson for the $10-a-day childcare campaign, said she’s thrilled to see the federal and provincial governments keep their promise about expanding affordable childcare.

“The overall savings are really significant,” she said. That’s enough to make a real difference to the family budget.”

The savings can also be combined with the county’s affordable childcare allowance — received by families earning less than $111,000 a year — meaning some parents are seeing their childcare benefits drop to nothing.

The county is also expanding the number of places from $10 a day to 12,600 by the end of the year. Currently, about 6,500 places are subsidized at the rate of $10 per day, but parents have complained that the program, which is not based on income, benefits some while others lag behind.

“This is really a step towards $10 a day as the maximum benefit that families will pay, and now I think families can see that on the horizon,” Gregson said. “It’s not just the lucky ones who are on the $10 a day sites.”

kderosa@postmedia.com


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