Article by Lesley Cressman

The choice to work with the Region as a contractor is a hard decision for independent providers to make. While it gives some families a level of security, it can also give current families a lot to worry about.

Lesley owner of Faery Childcare was quoted, “I cannot lose my forest program; my families came to my care for a reason; they want to have their children in nature to explore risky play and to have an input on the program.”

“I’m worried about maintaining autonomy over my business and the type of curriculum I offer. My little people are wild and free and I want to ensure they’re free to explore and take risks in their play,” said Natasha Kocher, owner of Red River ELC.

For Independent providers, a lot of research, questions, conversations, and time have gone into making this choice.

How to Apply

First to be clear, home child care providers will not be hired by the Region of Waterloo as staff, they are independent contractors.

The Region is a licensed agency that contracts with you to provide child care in your home. We welcome applicants who are registered early childhood educators, but it isn’t a requirement. However, we do require that you have experience working with children. (Region of Waterloo Home Child Care)

This is what the application process looks like:

Register for a two-part information session by calling 519-575-4400 and asking for home child care. After the information session, you will need to submit a completed application form with references. Your application will be assessed based on your qualifications, the location of your home, and the number of children needing care in your area. You will also need to submit a small business plan. One of our consultants will conduct a scored interview with you in your home. You will be assessed for your experience and ability to work with children and later contacted about next steps. (Region of Waterloo Home Child Care)

What Does the Region of Waterloo Home Child Care offer to a Contracted Provider?

Working with a licensed agency can offer guidance for novice providers and be a great resource for support. They can also assist in connecting child care providers with parents who require care. Some home spaces are also approved to offer an additional space when contracting with a licensed agency which can be a huge help to families searching for care; often we have had to turn away families in our community and it is a very difficult thing to do.

In addition —

Licensed home child care agencies monitor caregivers’ homes to ensure they comply with provincial regulations in the Child Care and Early Years Act (2014). These agencies: Meet with you monthly in your home while you are providing care; Refer families to your home child care, Help you connect with other providers, Provide training and workshops; and, Work with you, families, and community agencies to include children with special needs. (Region of Waterloo Home Child Care)

A second set of eyes, once a month to make sure a provider is on tract would be a nice thing, especially if you’re new to providing home child care.

Private providers already welcome that extra input, many of us run with an open door policy program, which means, families can come any time and check in on us. Additionally, with consent, some providers run a private Facebook group, where the families can see videos, pictures, and events. Families feel valued and involved when they are able to peak in on their children whenever they have time. Work is hard, it’s busy, but parents are always parents first. They love and miss their little ones throughout the day. This is one little way, we hope to help them adjust to care, and someone else spending time with their children.

The connection with other providers would be beneficial as well because collaboration with professionals creates huge opportunity for personal and professional growth. That being said, there are a lot of provider groups out there where providers can transition the isolation that being a provider can cause. Lesley and Natasha have found a few other crunchy or nature based providers we reach out to at this time. Private providers hope that the level of professional expectation, behaviors, and commitment to partnerships with parents will be higher under the Region of Waterloo’s umbrella.

Having access to supports to include children with special needs in our programs would be a huge asset for home child care providers. Working with the Region to connect with those community agencies would be very valuable for the families in our care and is a definitely plus to contracting with a licensed agency.

Professional development, training, and continuous learning are something that we are looking forward to. The opportunity to work within the Early Years Engage program is exciting for both Lesley and Natasha who strive to provide exceptional, high quality programs. Being a part of this as a provider contracted with the Region of Waterloo would be exceptional!

Continuous learning and growth is important for children and for early years partners. The Region’s continuous quality improvement program is centered on this belief. Early Years Engage helps child care and early learning programs take an ongoing approach to improving. (Region of Waterloo)

There is a lot of information on this continuous learning opportunity on the website. Taking part in professional development is an important part of being a purposeful educator.

Our early years partners (licensed child care centres, licensed home child care agencies, special needs resourcing agencies and Early On child and family centres) who contract with the Region will:

  • Continually review their practices to better meet the needs of children and families and to align with Our Vision for Quality in Waterloo Region
  • Develop short and long terms goals for growth
  • Create action plans to meet the goals
  • Evaluate progress against ‘Our Vision’
  • Involve all staff in the continuous improvement process
  • Have flexibility in choosing focus areas for their goals
  • Build relationships with each other and the Region, and celebrate successes

(Region of Waterloo)

Lesley was lucky enough to speak with one of the supervisors and have an amazing conversation about what the Region wants to develop with private providers. The fostering of relationships with private care providers is something important. It is our hope, that even though there will be a little bit of paperwork, we hopeful the region, our families and us can come to a positive outcome, where all our needs are met.

In Lesley’s private home daycare, her parents really want their weekly trips to the forest, their singing and signing, music and movement and our field trips to still happen. Messy and risky play are very important for the development of young children; her families are well educated and want this kind of learning to foster their children’s growth across the spectrum of development.

Working as a Caregiver, Who Would the Provider Actually Work For?

“Home child care agencies are licensed by the Ministry of Education to contract with people who wish to provide child care in their home (known as caregivers). Caregivers are self-employed business owners who receive support from the agencies’ Early Childhood Educators. (Region of Waterloo

This is where some confusion happens, is the provider licensed or the agency. The answer is the agency (the Region of Waterloo) has the license. Independent Providers would have a contract with the region for providing care. A lot of Independent Providers are ECEs, teachers or have their BA in science or art. They are well educated, they just want to care for their children or run a home business that has continued after their children have grown.

Wage Enhancement funding for 2018
The wage enhancement for the year 2018 is as follows. However, a provider signing today will not be able to apply for the until January. It is our understanding that the funding is set for the year before.

… a home child care enhancement grant supports an increase of up to $20 per day for home child caregivers who contract with a licensed home child care agency. These grants are part of the Province’s commitment to retain eligible child care professionals and support access to stable high quality child care programs in Ontario. (Region of Waterloo)

Additionally, from the Home Child Care Enhancement Grant Guidelines 2018, PDF

2018 is the fourth year of the HCCEG initiative. There is a change to the initiative for 2018, including: An increase in the maximum rate per day from $266.80 to $270.70 for full time Home Child Care providers; and an increase in the maximum rate per day for part time providers from $160.08 to $162.42. Additionally, the changes implemented in 2017 will continue: Private children are included in the count of provision of services to calculate the full or partial daily rate. A provider’s own children are not included in the count;

For providers with only private children this will mean we can still access the Wage enhancement funding of about 400 to 500 a month. This is a positive for signing with the Region, especially, with the option of staying private. It is the Region’s hope is we will take on a child who is signed with the region, but there is no pressure from the agency to do so. It is nice to witness a collective partnership with the Region for private providers to work with them.