July 26, 1999
EDITOR'S NOTE - The following feature article on alternative child care assistance was prepared by the Department of Human Resources Development-NB. MEDIA CONTACT: Hugues Beaulieu, 506-453-2712.
FREDERICTON (CNB) - For the past five years, parents with modest incomes in New Brunswick have had access to the Day Care Assistance Program offered by Human Resources Development-NB. This program provides financial assistance to help parents access quality, affordable child-care at an approved day care facility.
However, not all parents have access to licensed day care: some parents live too far away from a centre, others work evening or weekend shifts. That is why Human Resources Development-NB created the Alternative Child Care Assistance Program. This program offers financial assistance for eligible parents who do not have access to a licensed day care and have to rely on babysitter services. These services must be provided by people outside the immediate family. The objective of the program is to help parents keep their jobs or continue going to school by providing them with financial assistance for unlicensed child-care.
Dorothy Bateman's circumstances clearly demonstrate the importance of this new program. Bateman lives in Geary, near Fredericton. She is a single mother and works in a local restaurant. Her workday usually begins at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. "I used to send my children to a licensed day care because then I could receive government assistance," Bateman said. "But there was a big drawback. In the middle of working, I would have to make sure my two kids got to the babysitter's after the day care closed. That was quite an inconvenience. And using two child-care services was very expensive. Alternative Child Care Assistance solved my problems." This new program enables Dorothy to leave her children with a babysitter and to continue to receive the same amount of financial assistance.
"I absolutely depend on this service." said Maria Ridley of Nackawic. This single mother has a four-year-old daughter and works in customer services at the local building supply store. "I have a regular work schedule, but there is no licensed day care in Nackawic. Thanks to this program, I can use the services of a private babysitter and go to work."
Under the Alternative Child Care Assistance program, a parent or guardian may receive up to $18.50 a day for a child under the age of two years and $16.50 a day for a child aged two years or over. The rates are the same as those provided through the Day Care Assistance Program and vary depending on the family situation: whether it is a single- or two-parent family, the number of children in the family, the number of children attending day care, and the total parental income. For example, if the family's total net monthly income (gross salary minus deductions) is $1,250 or less, it may be eligible for the maximum rate. If the family's net monthly income is more than $1,250 but less than $3,835, it may be eligible for a lower rate.
Alternative Child Care Assistance was introduced in July 1998. At the same time, New Brunswick increased the financial assistance rates and the number of places available under the Day Care Assistance Program. These provincial initiatives represent an investment of $2.8 million annually and are part of the New Brunswick government's contribution under the National Child Benefit initiative.
Launched in the summer of 1998, the National Child Benefit is a federal/provincial partnership aimed at giving children a better start in life. Since its implementation, this new initiative has made it possible to improve benefits and services to low-income families with children. In addition, it helps low-income families leave social assistance and stay in the work force so that they can continue to meet their children's needs.
Anyone looking for more information on Alternative Child Care Assistance should contact their local Human Resources Development-NB office listed under the Provincial Government section of the blue pages in the telephone book.