Subsidies to day cares remain unpaid

Mike Youds, The Daily News (Kamloops)

A new government computer system creating havoc for child-protection workers continues to create hardships for parents and day-care providers.

Children and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil has acknowledged that the integrated case-management system introduced in April isn’t working as intended…

Day-care operators have been struggling through delays in child-care subsidy payments as a result of the same system. The new software has replaced a system considered three decades out of date.

The BCGEU has called for the system to be replaced. McNeil commented after Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s independent children’s representative, said the system is inadequate and cannot ensure children’s safety.

In June, several Kamloops day-care operators spoke of financial problems resulting from payment delays.

“As far as we’re concerned, no, this is still as delayed as it was before they put the new system in,” said Iris Davies, executive director of Kamloops Child Development Society.

The delay causes hardship for parents seeking child-care subsidies, working parents already facing tight financial circumstances. Larger day cares, such as KCDS, are able to carry the debt on an accounts-receivable basis. Many accounts are up to three months in arrears.

“It does become a hardship, not only for the parents, but for the agency,” Davies said. “I can see why so many agencies are having financial problems.”

KCDS is carrying a $25,000 to $30,000 debt as a result, she estimated.

Davies met with MLA Terry Lake and MLA Kevin Krueger’s staff last month on the problem, but has seen no change.

J VG, who was having difficulty making ends meet with her .. Day Care.., was able to obtain delayed payments at the end of June. By then, however, the problem had convinced her it was time to leave the business after 17 years. Her customers were upset….

VG was tired of getting excuses from bureaucrats in Victoria. One told her that maybe she should not be accepting subsidized families, a comment she found outrageous.

“It’s hard to refuse parents because they’re subsidized.”