Reduced Child Care Costs a Benefit For All in the WRDSB
As soon as the Canada-Wide Early Learning & Child Care (CWELCC) agreement was signed in March 2022, the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) began work on bringing savings to the families we serve, explained Melissa Hilton, Extended Day Program Manager for the WRDSB.
“We were committed to using the funding plan and making sure that we could offer reduced rates for families with children five-years-old or younger,” said Hilton.
The Extended Day Program team jumped into action, working to understand the necessary steps to license the WRDSB programs so that they would qualify for the reduced rate under the CWELCC agreement.
“Since March 2022, my team has been working closely with the Ministry of Education’s Child Care Licensing Branch to undergo the process of licensing WRDSB programs,” said Hilton.
Hilton especially credits the Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE) for their partnership and collaboration throughout the licensing process. It entailed new training and additional requirements for these educators, including a reduced number of students for each educator. Now, there will be no more than 13 students for every DECE, and maximum group sizes of 26.
Staff coordinated walkthroughs for Region of Waterloo Public Health at all 69 of the WRDSB-operated facilities over the summer months in 2022 and the configuration of the billing system to allow for phased reductions in costs for families. This means that families with children five-years-old or younger enjoyed reduced rates on their first bill in September 2022.
Barb Cardow is the director of Children’s Services at the Region of Waterloo and supported the WRDSB throughout the licensing process.
“We were so pleased that the WRDSB has been successful in licensing their before and after school programs across the community we serve,” said Cardow. “There is no doubt that families throughout Waterloo Region will benefit immensely from more affordable and accessible child care.”
Hilton shared her gratitude for the staff in Human Resources, Facility and Financial Services for their collaboration and support throughout the process.
“A huge thank you to our partners and colleagues throughout the WRDSB and Waterloo Region,” said Hilton.
In August 2022, the team heard the news that all 69 programs were successfully licensed, making the WRDSB a trailblazer in this effort to offer licensed child care programs. It also makes the WRDSB the largest licensed provider of child care in Waterloo Region - just one more example of the culture of innovation that permeates the school board.
“We were ecstatic,” said Hilton. “We’re one of the first school boards to become a licensed child care provider, and we’re really paving the way.”
From September to December 2022, rates were reduced by 25%. From January to June 2023, families will see a further reduction in rates and by 2025, they will reach an average of $10 a day. Hilton explained the impact that these reduced rates will have for families can already be seen in increased enrolment.
“As a school board we have worked hard to make the program accessible for all families. Now with CWELCC funding the program is becoming more affordable for families,” said Hilton. “It really makes a big difference for families who need child care.”
Providing more affordable and accessible child care helps to provide the conditions for all students to improve their academic achievement and well-being, as we know these two factors are tied together. By focusing on supporting those who are most in need by providing more equitable access to child care, all of the students and families we serve benefit.
Beyond lower rates, families continue to choose WRDSB Extended Day Programs for a variety of reasons, Hilton explained. With programs available at every WRDSB elementary school, it’s accessible to families throughout Waterloo Region. No waiting list means that care is more readily available.
“We don’t have any limited spaces, we hire the staff that we need to support the programs based on enrollment,” said Hilton.
For Hilton, the biggest benefit of the child care offerings available from the WRDSB is the uninterrupted day that students experience.
“Our programs offer a seamless day for children,” said Hilton. “They’re in a familiar environment, they’re in their school, they are with educators who they know from the school day and don’t have to transition to another program or location after school.”
Register for WRDSB Extended Day Programs
Visit the Extended Day Programs website for more information about programs offered for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6.