September 14, 2005

York Region to expand child care services

Best Start plan to add 1,500 subsidies, 1,480 spaces and increase wages

NEWMARKET The Regional Municipality of York will receive new funds totalling $67.1 million to expand child care services across the Region.  Details of the Region's Best Start plan were confirmed in a report to the Community Services and Housing Committee today.
The new funding will apply over a 2--year period beginning October 2005 through March 2008, and will include:
 $44.7 million to increase the number of child care fee subsidies, increase the number of children with special needs receiving services and increase wages for Early Childhood Practitioners
 $22.4 million to expand the number of licensed child care spaces in York Region
"Expanding the Region's child care system will help parents requiring child care to participate in the workforce and contribute to York Region's economy," said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  "A skilled workforce is vital to retaining the Region's competitiveness, attracting investment and helping to ensure future economic development."
Best Start is an early learning and care strategy designed to provide Ontario's children with the best possible start in life so they may achieve success in school.  The initiative, which will be phased in over the next 10 years, is comprised of a number of components including the expansion of the licensed child care system.
"The Best Start initiative provides York Region with an opportunity to significantly address long wait lists and other child care service issues," said Town of Newmarket Mayor Tom Taylor, Chair of the Community Services and Housing Committee.  "Residents and child care agencies in all municipalities in York Region will benefit from an increase in both the quantity and quality of services."
The $67.1 million in provincial funding will allow York Region to add some 1,500 new child care fee subsidies for children up to five years of age, and to administer funding to child care operators to create 1,480 additional child care spaces by March 2008.  It will also help increase wages for Early Childhood Practitioners.
"Child care plays a key role in promoting healthy child development and helping children arrive at school ready to achieve success," said Community Services and Housing Commissioner Joann Simmons.  "It is an essential support for many parents, helping them to balance the demands of career and family while participating in the workforce, or pursuing education and training."
York Region will not be required to contribute its usual share of the cost, which would have been approximately $12.7 million between October this year and March 2008.  The Province will waive the municipal portion of 20 per cent for these new funds.
The Region's implementation of the Best Start child care components is detailed in two plans, the Child Care Service Plan 2005-2008 and the Best Start Child Care Transition Plan (Phase I to March 2006).
The committee report will be forwarded to York Regional Council for approval on September 22nd.
This new funding is the result of a recent agreement between the federal and provincial governments that will see the Province providing approximately $1.1 billion in federal funds over the next three years to implement Ontario's Best Start Initiative that was announced by the Ministry of Children and Youth in November 2004.
York Region's allocation is based on a funding model that recognizes child population under six years, low income population, education, geographic dispersion, language barriers and growth.
Phase I of Best Start (2005-2008) will focus on increasing the number of child care spaces and fee subsidies for children in Junior Kindergarten (JK) and Senior Kindergarten (SK) as well as supporting moderate growth in the overall child care system for children up to four years of age.
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Media Contact:   Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications Services, York Region
(905) 830-4444 or (416) 297-9696, ext. 1238
Toll free: 1-877-464-9675

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