Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 11, 2000

Child care programs at risk, says study

Canada's quality child care programs are at risk, says a new study on centre-based child care, and this has serious implications for children's development, the ability of parents to participate in the paid workforce and economic productivity.

You Bet I Care! says child care centres face a shortage of skilled teachers and many are in precarious financial shape. The situation is due to the absence of coordinated federal/provincial/territorial child care policies, insufficient funding and a weak commitment to child care by governments and society in general.

The study was conducted by five university-affiliated researchers and funded by the federal government. It surveyed child care centres and staff in all provinces and two territories.

University of Guelph Prof. Donna Lero, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, who is also co-director of the Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being, was one of the principal researchers.

Staff turnover, fuelled by low wages, is a major concern. Research shows that the continuity of the relationship between caregiver and child is important to the child's well-being and development. On a Canada-wide basis, one in five staff (22% ) leave their centres every year. In some provinces turnover is even higher—44.8% in Alberta and 32.2% in Saskatchewan.

The most common reason cited for leaving is the low salary. Child care teachers earn an average wage of $22,717 a year across Canada—just above the average of $21,038 earned by parking lot attendants. Eighty-two per cent of centre staff have at least one year of post-secondary specialized education, while 75% have a two-year college credential or university degree.

Thirty-eight per cent of centre directors identified their centre's continued financial viability as the most pressing issue they had faced in the previous year. Child care centres struggle daily to provide quality services at prices parents can afford, working within very tight budgets.

The study concludes that governments must take the lead, in partnership with business, labour, parents and communities, to ensure that public policies and funding approaches support the provision of high quality, stable care and education for young children.

For more information contact:

Gillian Doherty (905) 845-2550

Donna Lero (519) 824-4120, ext. 3914

Hillel Goelman (604) 709-5661, before noon Pacific Time; (604) 822-5232, after 2 p.m.

Annette La Grange (403) 220-5627

Jocelyne Tougas (418) 625-0404

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