The city's community services committee will consider a plan this evening to cut a little more than $1 million from its childcare subsidy by giving higher priority to families who most urgently need the help. Everyone else would go on a waiting list, which a staff report estimates could include as many as 50 families.
“This is the first time, in several years, that the City of Greater Sudbury has implemented a wait list for childcare subsidy,” says a staff report on the proposed waiting list. “It is expected that over time, some adjustments may need to be made to ensure that the policy and implementation continue to meet both community priorities and needs.”
Priority would be given to families most in need of a subsidy, with people earning less than $20,000 a year at the top of the list. Families with a child with special needs would also get priority, as would “families who are deemed to be in crisis, with a completed referral and with manager approval,” the report said.
The amount of subsidy provided is determined by an income test and other eligibility policies. In 2012, the local subsidy served about 2,735 children at a cost of $10 million. The committee passed series of measures – including the wait list – in June, cutting costs to make up for the funding shortfall.
“Families who have an annual net taxable income less than $20,000 will be fully subsidized and do not pay a parental contribution,” the report says.
Families whose income is higher than $20,000 pay monthly fees, which increase incrementally with income. For example, families who make $30,000 pay $83.33 a month, while families who make $110,000 pay $1,916.67 a month.
In 2012, the city subsidized daycare costs for 1,874 families, of which 78 per cent were single-parent families. Half of those who received subsidized care had household incomes below $20,000 a year, while 46 per cent made between $20,000 and $60,000.
The waiting list is part of a package of changes designed to make up the budget shortfall, $189,804 of those reductions.
“There is a projected a wait list in 2014 of approximately 50 children if demand for child care and the demographics and child care need of applicants remains stable,” the report concludes.
“Based on the priority levels... the small number of eligible families with incomes (more than) $60,000 will be the most significantly impacted. However, some families with lower incomes will likely also have to wait for child care subsidy.”