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The announcement of 50 new portable, subsidized child-care spaces for low-income families in Nova Scotia wasn't exciting news for a group of day-care directors.
"That's it? That's all (that was) announced?" South End Community Daycare director Valerie Blaauw asked yesterday when contacted at the directors' meetings at White Point Beach Resort.
"We're still waiting to hear about the money that was available April 1, and we still haven't heard how that's going to be spent, so that's disappointing."
Non-profit day cares pleaded for help last March when Spryfield's Riverview Centre and the Woodside Child Care Centre in Dartmouth went bankrupt, leaving 100 families scrambling to find places for their kids.
At that time, directors representing 40 licensed, non-profit day cares met with Community Services Minister David Morse to ask for $1.3 million, but were told the province only had $400,000 left in a $2.2-million federal pot for child care.
Last April, Morse renewed a pledge to pay up.
"I am looking forward to fulfilling my commitment over the next few months," he said at the time.
NDP community services critic Marilyn More just got back from a national child-care conference in Winnipeg to attend yesterday's announcement.
"I was quite disappointed; I was hoping to hear either a committment to non-profit or the department's plan to strengthen the infrastructure for child care in this province," she said.
The whole concept of portable, subsidized places allows the department to get away with paying $4 less from the fully subsidized seats it used to offer, she said.
"It continues to undermine the non-profit delivery of child care in our province, because parents are able to use portable seats in either non-profit or commercial day cares."
The additional spaces are funded by the federal government's Multilateral Framework for Early Learning and Child Care.
Morse's announcement, made on the eve of today's National Child Day, was held at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Morse said the new spaces would allow more low-income parents to work or go to school.
There are 2,750 subsidized child-care spaces in the province, 398 of which are portable spaces, introduced in 2000.
The Community Services Department's "piecemeal" approach to child care threatens to destroy the system, More said.
"It's just putting Band-Aids on an infrastructure that is about to collapse."
- reprinted from Halifax Daily News