The prime duty of a commercial child care chain is to maximize the return on investment. We have repeatedly brought concerns to your government's attention about the implications of this business model for child care, including increased parent fees, low quality and/or increased demand for public subsidies to generate private profits. In the past, our concerns were based on research and evidence from other jurisdictions. Today, they reflect a reality in BC.
Child care services in BC have two main sources of revenue, parent fees and CCOF. With respect to parent fees, the amount of money that families with young children have to spend on child care is finite and the cost of child care is already prohibitive for many. Yet one of the commercial child care chains operating in BC recently dealt with their desire to achieve profit targets by initiating an unconscionable increase to the parent fee.
As you must know, the commercial child care chain Kids and Company recently announced that their Vancouver fees for children under three years of age would be increasing from $1,550/month to $1,915/per month, an increase of 24% or $365/month. It should be noted that even at $1,550/ month this program was already at the pinnacle of the 2011 fee range for this age group in Vancouver: the median monthly fee for toddlers is $1,155 (Westcoast Fee Surveys, 2011).
The fees announced by Kids and Company for new enrolling toddlers - almost $23,000 annually - are beyond the reach of most BC families. Even the few families that are eligible for the maximum toddler provincial fee subsidy of $7,620 annually would still have to pay $15,360 ($22,980 - $7,620) to participate in this program.
Commercial child care chains that are prepared to charge such exorbitant parent fees should not receive additional public funding through CCOF. MCFD does not provide funding to other services for young children with similar profit motives built in to their service delivery models. In fact, other early childhood development programs are run by non-profit organizations. Similarly, the K-12 system, even where it is privately run (i.e. independent schools) is in the hands of non-profit societies.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development 2012-2013 Service Plan commits your ministry "to explore strategies and policy options to improve access and affordability of child care."
The moratorium that we propose is entirely appropriate while you undertake this commitment.