Saturday, November 15, 2008

Implementation: Child Care

The development of child care services should follow an outline of federal standards. According to studies done by the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC) child care services must meet the standard of universal entitlement in which every child is guaranteed services. These services must also be regulated by provincial bodies ensuring that high quality child care is provided. In addition, childcare services must be either public or non-profit organizations to allow for greater regulation and accountability. Operating grants must be supplied to increase the expansion of child care services. Most importantly, these services must be affordable by all citizens. In addition, this plan must include staff recruitment and education objectives, possibly providing subsidies for child care training.

In addition to outlining standards, a means and method of funding must also be considered. Governments must increase spending on child care programs by directly funding child care spaces. The federal government needs to be more involved in social service implementation, and determine specifically how much money will be allocated to child care, taking this decision out of the hands of the provinces. The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada suggests that a schedule for federal funding to reach 1% of the GDP (about 10 billion annually) within a 15 year period. This figure is only about one sixth of the public education budget. This funding would be supplemented by 20% of parent contribution, unless parent(s) could prove insufficient finances. In addition, the 5.7 million spent on the CCED would eventually be eliminated. The federal government would be responsible for the child care expansion and operations, while the provinces would be responsible for existing funding of child care as well as training costs for child care workers. Under this plan it is estimated that by the 15th year, 50 percent of children under 6 years would have full access to child care services.

In order for the plan of universal child care as well as the short term plan of child care allowances for those on Ontario Works to be implemented, there must be public support. Luckily, child care is very popular among Canadians. A poll completed by CCAAC reveals that 90% of those polled believed that Canada should have a national child care plan. By using media as well as public relations approaches (distributing literature, holding conferences etc.) to market this child care initiative, it will create sentiment for the well-being of children, regardless of economic background.

A public policy dialogue must also be established to facilitate the interaction between governments and community organizations at all levels of policy implementation. One way to approach this would be by advocating (beginning with your local member of parliament and possibly through the utilization of internet petition forms) for the completion of a special commission or task force to examine the benefits and limitations of this child care initiative. If this special commission was conducted with great citizen partnership including public hearings and public submission of briefs, it would draw attention to the need for the policy response.

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