Many parents struggling with the cost of child care will pay less on July 1 when the province rolls out changes to the new provincial child care subsidy program.
The parent subsidy per diems in Nova Scotia are the lowest in the country and are a barrier for many families trying to access regulated child care.
“We heard during the review that subsidy rates were too low to be effective in helping families. In some cases, people who were eligible for the subsidy were choosing to stay home because even with the subsidy, they could not afford child care,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. “The improved subsidy rates will make child care more affordable and will benefit even more families across the province.”
Starting on July 1, families with an income of $25,000 or less will be eligible for the maximum subsidy, up from $20,800. About 700 families currently receiving a partial subsidy will be eligible for the maximum. This change will attract about 1,200 new families into the program.
Families with an income of more than $25,000 up to $70,000 will be eligible for a partial subsidy.
Subsidy eligibility is determined by total family income. The amount families will pay will depend on the amount of subsidy the family receives and the daily parent fees their child care centre charges.
Caps will be placed on the amount a centre can raise parent fees, so the gap between subsidy and cost of care narrows.
Families already enrolled in the subsidy program do not need to reapply to access the new per diems.
New daily subsidy rates will be updated automatically through regulated child care centres to ensure a seamless transition for families.
Improved subsidy rates are part of the response to the review of regulated child care and are included in the report, Affordable, Quality Child Care: A Great Place to Grow!, released on June 1. The report outlines changes that will take place over the next five years focusing on five key priorities:
— support and development of the workforce
— structure and governance
There are 3,970 families active in the subsidy program, which translates to 4,956 children. About 30 per cent of all full-day child care spaces are subsidized.
For more information, visit http://novascotia.ca/education/early years .