Private home ­daycares looking for more ­support

By Gordon Lambie

Sophy Forget Bélec, President of the Association Québecoise des Milieux Familiaux Éducatifs Privés (AQMFEP) Quebec’s association of private home daycares, says that people should not mistake the reopening of daycares with the end of struggles for daycare operators. Speaking with The Record on behalf of those home daycares which are licensed but not affiliated with the provincial system, the association president said that there has been no support from the provincial government over the course of this spring, leading many to shut their doors.
“It is particularly bad in Rivière du Loup and Sherbrooke,” Forget Bélec said, noting that private home daycares account for more than 100,000 spots across the province.
Prior to the arrival of COVID-19 and the subsequent shutdown of all daycares, the AQMFEP already found itself in a challenging situation. Having had to adjust to new norms established in 2017 through Law 143, the association was beginning to push back and raise awareness around concerns that Families Minister Mathieu Lacombe was preparing to require daycares to be a part of the provincial network.
With the shutdown, Forget Bélec said that threat faded while operators, who are all self-employed, turned to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to survive. Although this helped in the short term, things became more challenging on May 11 when daycares, including private home daycares, were allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity.
“We are now no longer eligible for CERB (because of the ratio we are allowed) but are barely making enough to survive,” explained Lennoxville daycare owner and AQMFEP member Ashley Boynton. “This has caused many, many private daycares to close their doors.”
Half attendance, Boynton pointed out, also means half of the income or, in some cases, even less since an operator’s own children under the age of nine are included in the ratio.
“Since being told to close our doors on March 13, we have had zero financial help from Quebec, and parents have not had to pay for their spot, even though we have contracts,” she added.
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