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December 1, 2005


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Gray Merriam

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General information and opinion on legal topics by Rural Legal Services

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by Jean Griffin

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by Leo Enright

Rural Visions promotes licensed home daycare in the face of Ministry actions

by Jeff Green


Rural Visions is providing a solution to recent actions by the Ontario Government which has put daycare services at risk for families in South Frontenac.

A private daycare in Battersea was visited recently by a representative from the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, and the owner was told she must decrease the number of children attending the daycare from nine to five in order to comply with provincial regulations.

Since January of this year, private licensed home daycare services have been developed by Rural Visions which could take up the slack, if enough daycare providers can be found who want to participate.

Lesley Dixon has been working for Rural Visions Home Childcare as a HOME Visitor since January of this year, and during that time 5 licensed home daycares, caring for five children each, have been established, three in Verona and two in Sydenham.

“I assisted these homes in getting established,” Lesley Dixon told the News, “which involved several steps, but all the requirements are laid out, from a fire inspection, to water well testing, immunization for workers and any animals in the house, safety inspections, etc.”

Dixon also pointed out that Rural Visions can offer equipment loans and other kinds of assistance to providers who are interested.

“Licensed homes also mean that children with special needs can have visits from specialists at their place of care rather than travelling to the specialist. Parents of children in licensed homes can apply for subsidy to assist with care costs. The Province has been working towards expanding financial assistance for families “We also maintain a waiting list of families who are seeking daycare services,” Lesley Dixon said.

Along with the five homes that are in operation, three others are under development, in the Perth Road and Harrowsmith areas.

Rural Visions has not been successful in establishing licensed homes in Storrington District, however, even though there is a strong need for childcare in that district.

Concerned that some people might misunderstand Rural Visions’ role in the childcare system, a Press Release was issued after the unlicensed Daycare in Battersea was curtailed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

“Our role is not to police unlicensed homes, but to make licensed care available in the rural area,” wrote Rural Visions Executive Director Beth Freeland. Rural Visions did receive a call earlier this year from an individual who was concerned about the operation of an unlicensed home daycare, not in the Battersea area but in another corner of South Frontenac Township. The caller was told that, “it was the Ministry of Community and Social Services they should contact,” said Lesley Dixon.

Board Chair Lance Gibson expressed some frustration that daycare providers are a bit slow in taking up the offer of becoming licensed.

“What I can’t understand is why providers don’t just become licensed. The income tax advantages are there for both sides and our organization loans equipment needed to become approved. It makes sense that if you really want to offer child care, you do it legally.”

Rural Visions has also expressed frustration that a proposal they recently made to the Best Start Network has been turned down. They had proposed purchasing St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Harrowsmith and establishing a Childcare Centre with a capacity of 60 spaces.

“Instead, the Best Start Network, the planning group formed by the City of Kingston to make decisions on submissions, has chosen the Frontenac County Childcare Centre proposal that will see three new portables at the Loughborough Public School for $350,000 to provide 24 new spaces,” according to the Rural Visions December Newsletter.

Lesley Dixon is optimistic, however, that the network of licensed home daycares that is being established will continue to grow over time.

“The home daycares that have been established thus far are doing well, and are providing excellent service,” she said, “and we have a waiting list of families looking for childcare.”