Day Care Options Scarce

Kim Zarzour reports that none of the York Region schools implementing the Full-Day Learning Program will offer the extended day program.

The boards say there wasn't enough interest among parents for the on-site extended day and instead opted to stick with their existing child care arrangements.

With the required sallary of $19.50 and the cost-recovery model parent fees can be around $31/day, which many parents simply cannot afford. As these workers become organized by unions and adjustments such as pay equity are negotiated, these wages are likely to increase. Without funding from the government, this will result in higher fees for parents.

Andrea Calver, the OCBCC's coordinator, says that uncertainty has been another stumbling block. As the program was rushed in, parents who were surveyed as they registered for the program said they had too little information at that time to commit to the extended day program.

“It’s too short notice,” Ms Calver said. “Very few boards will be offering it and it’s too bad, but they were put in an unrealistic position to be able to pull it together.”

Other parents are feeling the anxiety of the unknown.

“I feel like I’m in limbo right now,” said Karen Zarr, a Thornhill single mom trying to determine where her children will be before and after school when she returns to work in the fall.
She’s just learned the full-day kindergarten at Westminster Public School, where her youngest will attend, won’t open its integrated extended day program in September and she’s not sure if there will be room for him in the om-site YMCA daycare. “It’s extremely nerve-wracking and uncomfortable not knowing what will happen with my kids.” Whatever happens, she said she wants her son and her older child together before and after school.

Eventually, all schools will be required to offer “seamless integrated learning” beginning each day at 7:30 a.m. and running until 6 p.m. for what the government says will be a “reasonable” fee. Some subsidies will be available for low-income families. Jim Grieve, assistant deputy minister of the Education Ministry has indicated the long-term vision is to accommodate children up to 12 years.

“We are confident that parents will see the value of having an enriched, integrated program that does not require their children to move between programs and locations,” Mr. Wheeler, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said.

If parents could have continuity of care, for the right price, Mr. Virgo from the public school board has little doubt the demand is there.

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