Manitoba

Families

Summary of the Public Response to A Vision for Child Care and Development in Manitoba

Executive Summary

A Vision for Child Care and Development in Manitoba was developed by Manitoba's Child Day Care Regulatory Review Committee at the request of Tim Sale, Minister of the Department of Family Services and Housing. This vision for the future development of child care in Manitoba outlined four key elements and a series of recommendations related to six main areas of the child care system. On February 2, 2001, Minister Sale released this vision for public feedback with the hope that "we reach a consensus in Manitoba about the future nature of our child care system." This document summarizes the number and kinds of responses received. It also comes to some preliminary conclusions about the responses and provides some considerations for future development.

In a three-month period, 24,062 responses were received as a result of the Minister's call for public feedback on A Vision for Child Care and Development in Manitoba. Overall, tremendous support was expressed for the vision itself, and those not supporting it in its entirety still favoured more resources for the provision of these critical services. This interest in child care and for the future well-being of Manitoba's children, families and communities sends a clear message that child care is a "hot button" issue and that a plan must be developed to move child care and development forward.

Table A - Response To The Vision

SOURCE NO. OF RESPONSES PERCENTAGE
Petition
14,434
60%
Manitoba Child Care Association Form Letter
4,065
17%
Child Care Coalition of Manitoba Form Letter
3,726
15.5%
Rural Form Letter
480
2%
College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface Form Letter
257
1%
Francophone Form Letter
130
.5%
Today's Parent Coupon
88
.4%
18 Other Form Letters (Fewer than 75 responses)
371
1.5%
Individual Letters of Support
350
1.3%
Submissions
83
.3%
"No" to the vision
128
.5%
TOTAL RESPONSES
24,062
100%

A significant majority of respondents (82 per cent) fully supported the vision as presented, including its key elements - Universality, Accessibility, Affordability and Quality, as well as the recommendations related to the six main components of the child care system:

  • Standards/Quality Care
  • Funding
  • Training and Professionalism
  • Governance
  • Integrated Service Delivery
  • Public Education

Another two per cent of the respondents said they supported the direction of the vision and/or many of its recommendations. Most agreed with the elements of Accessibility, Affordability and Quality. Some expressed different ideas about Universality: some wanted low-income families or working families to be prioritized; some wanted those who can afford to pay to do so; and others wanted universality like Quebec. Some of these respondents also felt that the vision would not be financially feasible or that equal supports for stay-at-home parents should have been included.

Although supportive of the vision's commitment to improving the child care system, the other 16 per cent of all respondents said they want child care policy redesign as proposed by the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba. Support for this redesign also came from labour groups, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees on behalf of its 23,000 Manitoba members. Instead of the vision's four key elements, as stated in the form letter developed by the Coalition, these respondents said redesign is needed based on six principles:

  • Universal Access
  • Entitlement
  • Public Responsibility
  • Integration
  • Public Accountability
  • High-Quality

In particular, respondents supporting child care policy redesign want a shift from affordability to entitlement so that there are assurances that all children get the services they need whatever their family's socio-economic status. They also want public responsibility - service planning for child care and the establishment of other governance models, including public delivery in neighbourhoods where parents do not wish to directly manage and oversee non-profit boards of directors. Accordingly, they want public accountability - public obligation to ensure universality. Less than one per cent said "no" to the vision. Various reasons were given, including: prohibitive costs to implement such a system; the belief that Manitoba already has a good system; that taxpayers should not have to pay for child care on behalf of high income families; and that families should be supported to care for their own children.

Considerations

The overwhelming "yes" vote for A Vision for Child Care and Development in Manitoba supports the claim of a child care advocate who responded to the call for feedback and wrote, "the (vision) paper is grounded on principles that the early childhood sector has supported and promoted for years." The fact that 82 per cent of respondents fully supported this vision helps point the way for further developments to Manitoba's child care system. In addition, however, priority areas and possible approaches can be culled from those who gave individual responses, as well as from the 83 group submissions.

Affordability and Accessibility: 201 and 198 comments respectively

Based on the "additional comments to the MCCA form letter" and the "individual responses", the issues of affordability and accessibility were identified as the most urgent child care issues. Respondents shared how these issues affect their ability to participate in education and training opportunities and to successfully find and keep employment. Infant, school age and "flexible" child care spaces were identified as being the least accessible. Addressing these issues is critical as one parent shared: "Without better child care availability, I will have to go back on welfare." Respondents also said that the cost of child care is prohibitive for many families, including those who are "fully" subsidized. Subsidy eligibility levels and the non-subsidized fee of $2.40 per day per child were identified as serious barriers for families. Furthermore, child care facilities and agencies identified how the $2.40 fee often results in additional costs to them, affecting their ability to offer quality programs or new supports for families. Most often, these agencies are also supported by government (e.g., Child and Family Services, New Directions).

High-Quality: 157 comments

Respondents also sent a clear message that child care and development services for children and their families must be of high-quality. The link between high-quality and a "stable, well-remunerated, trained child care workforce" was a common theme in the majority of responses (138 comments). Consequently, the specific recommendation to "develop a strategy that addresses the critical issues of recruiting and retaining early childhood educators" was well supported (51 comments). Clearly, the provision of adequate salaries for early childhood educators and nursery school teachers, as well as fair income levels for family child care providers, were identified as essential components to the provision of high-quality care and the benefits of investing in it.

Creation and Expansion of Responsive Child Care Spaces: 49 comments

Rural, northern, Aboriginal, Francophone and special needs children and their families were identified as having unique child care needs that are not currently being met. These needs were also expressed by many respondents via form letters and submissions from special groups. For example, in response to the needs of rural families, 480 respondents advocated for creating seasonal family day homes or centres that could provide service and supports to more than one community. First Nations groups called for initiating talks between the provincial and federal levels of government to ensure that quality child care could be available for all Manitoba's children and families both on and off reserve.

Accessible and Affordable Training: 42 comments

The need for more training options for all levels and sectors, including rural, Aboriginal and family child care was expressed by respondents in their additional comments or individual responses. This need was also expressed in many form letters. Creative, accessible and affordable training was recommended, including internet-based training, in-centre training, workshop training for family child care providers, interactive television training. Ongoing professional development was also identified as an important need.

Further Considerations Emerging from the Responses

Other issues and initiatives emerged from the responses, which could be considered with the goal of ensuring the "optimal development of children and support to families throughout Manitoba." These included:

  • the need to carefully set priorities on how universality can be achieved over time in Manitoba;
  • the need for further collaboration with communities and caregivers, including family child care providers on how changes to Manitoba's child care system may affect them, as well as how all families, including stay-at-home parents, can access services and supports;
  • the importance of collaboration with communities and systems on developing more and better child care, such as the provision of school age care in schools with start-up support and subsidies from the Child Day Care branch;
  • the need to better support parent boards of directors in their important role and to further explore new governance models, such as piloting a "hub," and exploring the establishment of an autonomous child care resource department;
  • the need to examine current funding policies and practices, including:
    • those that may be deterring the provision of "flexible" child care services;
    • spaces waiting for funding; and
    • capital funds for upgrading and the development of new child care facilities;
  • the need to review Manitoba's classification system for child care assistants and early childhood educators, including Montessori trained educators and the requirements for school age staff; and
  • the need to promote child care through a public education campaign.

The Summary of the Public Response to A Vision for Child Care and Development in Manitoba has been prepared for Child Day Care Regulatory Review Committee members. The Committee has been charged with making recommendations to government by the end of October 2001, regarding the establishment of priorities and time frames for implementation. The government plans to release a multi-year child care strategy paper to coincide with the 2002/2003 Provincial Budget expected in late March or early April 2002.


Early Learning and Child Care Program 210-114 Garry Street, Winnipeg MB R3C 4V4

Email: cdcinfo@gov.mb.ca Phone: 204-945-0776 Toll-free: 1-888-213-4754 Fax: 204-948-2625

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