Full-time Access to Service
Operators have discretion to set the hours of service for their child care centres. In some cases, part time hours of operation have resulted in a patchwork of services for families in receipt of fee subsidy, with some families needing to access multiple child care programs to fill all of the days and hours for which they need care. This is particularly challenging when considering waitlists and the high demand for child care. The need for full-time child care for families was raised during consultation with families and stakeholder consultations regarding the Funding Model developed in 2015.
Responding to this, a policy of the City’s requires that operators with a Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy provide “full-time access” to care. Operators can apply for an exemption to this policy if the exemption criteria is met.
Full-time access refers to both the number of hours throughout the day and number of days throughout the year that a program is available to families. The required number of hours and days is different depending on the age of the child.
Infant, Toddler and Preschool Groups
Provides a minimum of 7 hours continuous service per day for a minimum of 11 months/239 operating days per calendar year.
Kindergarten and School Age Groups
Provides a minimum of 11 months/239 operating days which includes a minimum of before and after school during instructional school days and 7 hours continuous service per day during non-instructional school days.
The policy is applied in two ways, depending on whether an operator is a new applicant for Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy or has an existing Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy as of December 31, 2015.
Operators Applying for a Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy
If the Operator:
- meets full-time access to service criteria no further action is necessary
- does not meet full-time access to service criteria, they are not eligible for a fee subsidy agreement
Operators with a current Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy
If the Operator:
- meets full-time access to service criteria, no further action is necessary.
- meets full-time access to service criteria but is planning a reduction to hours of service resulting in less than full-time access (seven (7) hours continuous service), the operator is not eligible for an exemption, and may have their Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy and General Operating Funding terminated.
- meets full-time access to service criteria but is planning a reduction to days of service resulting in less than full-time access (239 days of service), the operator may apply for an exemption if the Exemption Criteria are met.
- does not meet full-time access to service criteria, the centre may retain its current Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy but is not eligible to receive General Operating Funding.
If the exemption is approved, the General Operating Funding will be re-calculated based on the actual days of operation, and in accordance with the GOF Guidelines.
If exemption application is not received or is not approved, the Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy and General Operating Funding may be terminated.
In any scenario where an operator has a Service Agreement for Fee Subsidy terminated, the General Operating Funding will also be terminated.
Criteria for Exemption
One or more of the following criteria must be met to apply for an exemption:
- Merged programs: One or more programs merge to one location for periods of the year (e.g. winter or summer break) and provide continuity of services for all families requiring care, including those waiting for care. This practice is included the operator’s written admissions policy and families are made aware of this practice upon admission to the program.
- Religious observance: Additional days of closure are clearly documented and are for religious observance.
- No ‘demand’ for care: All families are surveyed three months prior to the planned closure and it has been confirmed there is no demand for care.
- Financial/operational hardship: Providing full-time service will cause financial/operational hardship on the operator due to extremely low demand for service.
How to Apply for an Exemption
Operators who wish to apply for an exemption must submit a letter of request to their Children’s Services District Consultant.
Operators will need to apply for an exemption three (3) months prior to the change in service in order to have their exemption request considered. The letter of request must explain the reasons for requesting an exemption and must demonstrate how one or more of the listed exemption criteria are met.
The City will review the circumstances for each exemption request and provide a written response to the operator confirming if the request is approved or denied. If approved, the City will provide the details of any adjustment to funding.