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[Untitled photograph of a child putting money into a piggy bank]. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from: http://business.financialpost.com/2011/03/22/giving-money-to-your-kids-can-cost-you/



You Bet I Care: A Canada-wide study on: Wages, Working Conditions, and Practices in Child Care Centres

Daycares have always seemed expensive, with parents having to pay large amounts of their incomes to pay for their child`s care while they work. Even with subsidy, and government grants, parents are paying the majority of the costs to run a daycare. In 1998, parent fees on average for Canada was 49.2% of an average centre`s revenue, with fee subsidy at 30.5% and other government grants at 17.5% (Doherty, Lero, Goelman, LaGrange, & Tougas, 2000). I am a mother, and my husband and I do not make enough money to afford to put our son in daycare full time. Subsidy has cut us off because apparently we make too much money. If we were to put my son in full-time care we would be spending 28% of our net income on our 1 child`s daycare. That is almost the amount of money my husband makes each month.

Since many centres want to keep their parent fees as low as possible without effecting staff wages, many centres rely on fund-raisers to help pay for the cost of running a daycare. In 1998, 42% of centres had took part in fund-raisers across Canada but the money they received only covered 1.9% of centre revenue (Doherty et al., 2000).

Table 1.1
Sources and Average Proportions of Revenue for Child Care Centres, by Auspice, 1998
Source of revenue
Non-profit
Commercial
Parent fees
44.4%
60.4%
Fee subsidy
28.9
31.7
Recurring operating/equipment grants
13.3
2.1
Salary enhancement grants
8.2
1.7
Other government grants
1.7
2.8
Note: Data from municipal centres are not reported in this table.
(Doherty et al., 2000)

As shown above in table 1.1, non-profit parent fees are just under 50% of the centres revenue, where as commercial centres rely on parent fees at 60.4%. However, across Canada, commercial centres received larger amounts of revenue from fee subsidy then non-profit centres (Doherty et al., 2000). It seems as if parents with children in non-profit centres are paying less, however this is not always the case. My son attends a non-profit centre and I work in a commercial centre. The parent fees at my centre are approximately $150 cheaper than the parent fees at my son’s non-profit centre. On the other hand, I have worked at a commercial centre were the parent fees were over $300 more than the commercial daycare I currently work at. At the commercial centre I use to work at my wage was extremely low especially when compared to the wage I currently receive at my new centre, and even lower when compared to the starting wage at my son’s centre. In the table 1.2, I have laid out my experience of wages vs. parent fees at the centres.

Table 1.2
Comparing my experiences of wages vs. parent fees at centres

Non-profit
Commercial centre #1
Commercial centre #2
Parent fees per month (full-time toddler, 18 months to 36 months)
$1134
$975
$1390
Starting wage (per hour)
$18.36
$17.50 to$18.50
$14 to $16
Note: All 3 centres supply 2 snacks a day, however the non-profit centre only operates for 9 hours a day where as the commercial centres operate 10 hours a day.

Clearly the commercial centre #2 is receiving a greater profit then the commercial centre #1. My current centre is the commercial centre #1, and even though it is not a non-profit centre, my boss has told me that the centre does not have a profit, that is why she is able to keep the parent fees low and the starting wage high.

Table 10.2
Figure 1.1
Proportion of the Average Centre’s Revenue from Government Sources,
by Jurisdiction and Auspice, 1998
chart_number_1.1.jpg
Notes: The category “government sources” includes fee subsidies for low-income families and government recurring grants.
Data from the Yukon and the Northwest Territories are not reportable due to small sample sizes.
All revenue from government sources reported by commercial centres in Manitoba was from fee subsidization.
(Doherty et al., 2000)

As figure 1.1 shows, more non-profit centres on average across Canada receive more revenue from government sources than commercial centres. I use to think this was a good thing because that means the commercial centres are not able to make as much off parents. I believe that daycares should not be about making money, but about fair wages for the educators and fair parent fees for the families. I use to think that commercial centres were always about making a profit, however with my new centre I learned that there are some commercial centres out there that are not making a profit. This makes me change my mind about commercial centres being able to receive government sources. Perhaps there is a better way to decide whether a centre qualifies for government sources no matter if they are non-profit or commercial centre.

In figure 1.2, it shows how much parents were paying for daycare in 1991 and in 1998. It makes me feel outraged that the government has not stepped in more over this 7 year period, and that even in 2012 the government still isn’t helping out as much as they should. “Quality early learning experiences have the potential to improve children’s overall health and well-being for a lifetime. Similarly, children who are healthy tend to learn better, further underlining the health-learning connection” (British Columbia Early Learning Framework, 2008). If the government knows that quality early learning experiences have such an important role in a child’s life than why are they not helping more to support families in paying for care. Even over the seven years between the surveys, you can still see that the government has not really stepped up. Why does the government think that parents should be paying most of the fees for daycare when the government sees how important kindergarten to grade 12 is for children? Why are the first 5 years of a child’s life seen as less important? Especially when we know that the first 5 years of a child’s life is actually the most important time for a child’s development.

Figure 1.2
Proportion of the Average Centre’s Revenue from Parent Fees,
by Jurisdiction, 1991 and 1998
chart_number_1.2.jpg
Source: 1991 statistics from Caring for a Living (CCDFC/CDCAA, 1992), Table A58, p. 114.
Note: 1998 data from the Northwest Territories and the Yukon are not reportable due to small sample sizes.
(Doherty et al., 2000)

When we think about the amount of money a family should pay for childcare that seems fair to the family, the government and the centre, what number comes up in your mind? I believe it should take into account how much money the family brings home (their net income each month). Families should not have to spend more than 10% of their family net income on daycare. As I mentioned earlier if my son was in full-time daycare then we would be spending 28% of our net income on his daycare. Below is table 1.3 which shows the median monthly parent fees from 1998 for children in full-time care. These prices seem high, and the fact is that daycare prices have increased dramatically since then.

Table 1.3
Median Monthly Parent Fee for Full-Time Care, by Jurisdiction, 1998
Jurisdiction[a]
Infants
(Age 0-17 mths)
Toddlers
(Age 18 mths-3 years)
Preschool
(Age 3-5.11 years)
BC
$650.00
$547.00
$460.00
Alberta
525.00
450.00
425.00
Saskatchewan[b]
NR
405.00
380.00
Manitoba
573.00
383.00
368.00
Ontario
783.00
603.00
541.00
Quebec
477.00
455.00
440.00
New Brunswick
380.00
360.00
360.00
Nova Scotia
470.00
412.00
412.00
P.E.I.
440.00
380.00
360.00
Newfoundland/Labrador[c]
Not applicable
380.00
360.00
Yukon[d]
630.00
550.00
514.00
Canada
$531.00
$477.00
$455.00
Notes:

[a] Data for the Northwest Territories are not reportable due to small sample sizes.
[b] Fee information for infant care in Saskatchewan is not reportable due to the small number of centres that provided this information.
[c] At the time of data collection, no infant care was provided in Newfoundland/Labrador centres.
[d] Data for the Yukon are from Study two of the You Bet I care! Project and, unlike all other data in the above table, are not weighted.
(Doherty et al., 2000)

So why are daycare prices increasing, and how can we decrease the amount parents pay without having to rely more on the government? One way is by receiving in-kind donations. In 1998, 51.3% of centres in Canada received some form of in-kind donations (Doherty et al., 2000). I have only ever seen or heard about people dropping off toys, clothes, or materials (such as art supplies) to centres, or centres receiving free or subsidized janitorial/maintenance. It really shocks me that in 1998, 26.9% of BC centres reported that they received subsidized or free rent, 14.3% reported that they received subsidized or free utilities, and 13.4% reported that they received both subsidized or free rent and utilities (Doherty et al., 2000). So if some centres are receiving these in-kind donations, then why are daycares still charging so much? In table 1.4, it shows where the average centre in 1998 spent its revenue. I think this table is a great resource to use for any centre which is starting up, or thinking about starting up a centre. I think it is also very important for staff and families to see where the money is going. Since some centres do receive in-kind donations such as subsidized or free rent and/or utilities you can that that is only a small portion of the expenses for a centre.

Table 1.4
Proportion of an Average Centre’s Budget Allocated
to Various Expenditures, by Jurisdiction, 1998
Jurisdiction
Wages
Benefits
Rent or mortgage
Utilities
BC
75.7%
6.8%
10.8%
6.4%
Alberta
73.0
4.2
16.2
6.7
Saskatchewan
80.4
10.1
5.6
3.9
Manitoba
82.4
8.9
6.2
2.5
Ontario
77.2
11.0
7.9
3.9
Quebec
73.6
11.0
9.5
5.8
New Brunswick
66.3
2.5
19.8
11.3
Nova Scotia
72.6
5.3
13.6
8.6
P.E.I.
71.2
6.5
13.1
9.2
Newfoundland/Labrador
66.6
3.5
17.2
13.0
Canada
75.3%
8.9%
10.0%
5.6%
Note: Data from the Northwest Territories and the Yukon are not reportable due to small sample sizes.
(Doherty et al., 2000)

As shown in the table, on average in Canada centres were spending 75.3% of their revenue on wages (Doherty et al., 2000). With such high parent fees, and 75.3% of the revenue going towards wages you must think that the staff at centres are bring paid high wages. However, in 1998, centres in Manitoba spent on average 82.4% of their revenue on wages (Doherty et al., 2000). Were they charging more for daycare then other provinces? Actually if you look back at table 1.3, the average of Manitoba’s centres were below the average for Canada when it came to toddlers and preschoolers care.

“The low wages in child care mean that some child care staff are living close to, or in, poverty. Twenty-six percent of assistant teachers and 28.7% of teachers reported that they rely on their salary to cover 80-100% of their total household costs” (Doherty et al., 2000). To understand how much (or little really) that Early Childhood Educators (ECE) are being paid we need to compare them to other jobs which are similar to ECE. The table 1.5 compares child care teachers’ annual salaries to Licensed practical nurses, which has similar amounts of post-secondary education requirements, elementary/secondary school teacher assistants, which have similar job descriptions but no education required, and parking lot attendants, which have no education requirements and no decision making requirements (Doherty et al., 2000).

Table 1.5
Comparison of Average Annual Salaries for Child Care Teacher, Licenced Practical Nurse,
Teacher Assistant, and Parking Lot Attendant, Full- and Part-Time Employees Combined
Jurisdiction
Child car teacher, 1998
Licenced practical nurse, 1996
Elementary/secondary school teacher assistant, 1996
Parking lot attendant, 1996
BC
$23,537
$31,590
$25,231
$21,652
Alberta
16,954
26,915
18,902
16,788
Saskatchewan
21,166
27,760
17,487
20,245
Manitoba
18,703
30,601
17,833
18,641
Ontario
26,496
31,826
25,965
22,938
Quebec
20,667
30,234
28,797
20,016
New Brunswick
14,921
22,941
15,947
18,888
Nova Scotia
17,391
22,852
17,753
19,572
P.E.I.
15,958
22,167
Not available
Not available
Newfoundland/Labrador
13,639
25,133
34,229
Not available
Yukon
24,794
27,300
Not available
Not available
Canada
$22,717
$29,487
$24,018
$21,038
Sources: Salary information for child care teachers calculated from responses to the Staff Questionnaire. Salary information for licenced practical nurses (except for the Yukon), elementary/secondary school teacher assistants, and parking lot attendants from Statistics Canada, 1996 Census: Dimension Series, Cat. 94S-0009XDB, Table 123. Salary information for licenced practical nurses for the Yukon from a 1996 survey conducted by the Canadian Practical Nurses Association.
(Doherty et al., 2000)


Child care teachers should be receiving higher wages then they currently are. Since child care teachers have to attend post-secondary education similar to licensed practical nurses then they should be receiving a similar wage amount. With the fact that 75.3% of revenues from centres on average across Canada are going towards teachers wages, and that parent fees are too expensive, it seems as if the government needs to help out some more in order for fair wages, and fair parent fees.



Reference:


British Columbia Early Learning Framework. (2008). Victoria, B.C.: Ministry of Education.

Doherty, G., Lero, D., Goelman, H., LaGrange, A., & Tougas, J. (2000). You Bet I Care: A Canada-wide study on: Wages, Working Conditions, and Practices in Child Care Centres. Retrieved from http://action.web.ca/home/cfwwb/attach/ybic_report_1.pdf