Parenting > Finances

Daycare crisis? A single-parent speaks out


Bio/About: I am a 35 year-old single mother, divorced since 2004 and on my own since 2003. I was 29 when my ex-husband left.

My take: I, too, am a single-parent completely frustrated with the cost of daycare/after-school care.

When my husband left for greener pastures, I was working up north with a work arrangement of about 20 hours per week. Considering the remote location away from family, I had to apply for a transfer which was accepted. My new work arrangement in the Lower Mainland was 12 hours a week plus any on-call shifts that were available. With my son being four at the time, I was working as much as I could just to pay the rent.

The childcare subsidy was a complete joke. The "parental portion" I had to pay took everything I had left, including grocery money. And no, I was not sitting at home with cable and internet, etc. I would have been better off to quit my job and go on welfare, but I was hopeful that my situation would turn around eventually. Over the next two years, I was able to transfer around and get work arrangements from 12 hours to 20, 22, 32, and now after five years I've finally obtained a full-time position.

Would you believe that my childcare subsidy cut me off when I reached about $15,000 per year? My bi-weekly pay cheques were less than $500 after taxes. I could have cried (and I'm sure I did) when the Universal subsidy came out for children UNDER SIX. Here I was, struggling to survive, and because my child had just turned six we did not qualify. I work at a bank, and watched as dual-income families came in to proudly deposit their cheques —some families receiving more than one cheque if they had more than one child under six.

And yes, I have gone to court to request an order requiring my ex-husband to help pay for childcare (under special expenses.) Every time I do, he counters with an application for sole custody. So in order to receive the help I need, I have to defend my position of raising a son and tie up valuable court resources. Talk about stress!

The government policies around this are not only unfair, they are harming the very parents who take responsibility for raising our next generation. Constantly putting aside the financial worries (and in my case, court worries) in order to provide a fun, safe environment for a child is taxing. But not to worry, when stress gets the better of me I'm sure our medical system will take excellent care of me.

I am curious as to how long ago this occurred ? There was a time when subsidy $ was low and underfunded by the government and they could not help families pay as much..but at this time, as of Feb 09 People/Families in Ontario (in my area at least) who earn under $80 000 per year qualify for a subsidy. Many families pay 0$ parent fee, while others pay maybe $10 per child. I sympathize with the struggles families face when finding quality affordable daycare...providing daycare is not cheap in the first place, so after expenses a provider hopes to make a bit too..which is no more than $30 000/yr in many cases.

I don't know, however 15k is very little. A median salary in Toronto is 35K and that's barely enough if you are a single income producer. Rent can easily eat $12K and there are taxes as well.  Sometimes I wonder if any of the officials are still in touch with reality.

I've never been on subsidy for childcare...I am a daycare provider myself so luckily when working for certain daycares, I received very cheap placements for my children. But I know that there are parents who come to me for care now that I have gone private, who make LESS than I do as a SAHM who does daycare, and they don't qualify for subsidy. It's disgusting at how little you can make and be turned away for help to feed, clothe and house your children. With the cost of daycare, and how few jobs out there with decent pay, it's a wonder there aren't more families in need!

3 years ago I was a single mother with 2 kids, and because I hadn't been beaten by my ex husband and he had made too much in the previous year, I was turned away for EVERYTHING from subsidy to assistance. I was working for a licensed in home daycare agency at the time, and had to give up my job because I was unable to afford the place I was in on my own. It took 30 days to be able to claim being single before any service would help me, despite being left with nothing but my 2 children and our clothes and belongings. I had no car to sell, no savings left, and nothing that could be liquidated for cash.  It really is depressing how people in that and similar positions are treated.


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