Q: Why is the daycare moving to a camp format for school-agers?
A: Moving to a camp format offers a number of benefits for our families and for our centre.
It allows us to offer better programming. In the past, the daycare didn’t receive a lot of advance insight into whether kids would be showing up for any given day or week. Under a camp program, we can combine or split our two school-age rooms as necessary. Keeping our rooms full will help us to offer more interesting trips, host more interesting activities and bring in more special guests.
A camp format helps us control our immediate costs and better manage our finances long-term. Much of what we spend on trips, food, staffing and supplies in summer are costs paid out in advance and which cannot be recouped should our numbers drop unexpectedly. The $550 fee we have been charging to-date has not been covering our true summer costs for this age group. In the past, the daycare would incur a substantial seasonal loss and then spend much of the rest of the year rebalancing the books. This is no longer a viable business practice for our centre.
Q: Aren’t the costs of summer programs already amortized into the rate I pay all year?
A: Our school-age fees have never fully reflected the true cost of summer programming. The summertime costs of full-time staff, morning snacks, trips and enrichment have always been recorded as a loss by the daycare.
Q: Why are your rates higher than some other programs in the community?
A: We have calculated our rates to be as low as they can be while still covering our costs. For context, we are charging the same rates as Palmerston Daycare, ($215 a week). St. Alban’s offers camp for just $160 a week — but bear in mind that St. Alban’s is a registered charity that gets significant third-party funding and it’s camps are not run by trained ECEs. Our camp will also offer longer hours at no extra cost, and we include two snacks a day.
Q: Is my school-age child guaranteed spot for September 2014?
A: NEW THIS YEAR: To guarantee a spot for September 2014, we ask that all children who expect to attend in fall 2014 attend at least one week of our summer camp to hold their spot.
Fulfilling that stipulation, most children in our daycare will have a guaranteed spot in September. A possible exception may exist among our oldest children. As a longtime daycare policy, we prioritize spots for our youngest school-age students and to make room, we occasionally require that older children in our care move on from our program. We will know more after Registration Week at the beginning of April. Should we find ourselves in this situation, affected families will be contacted personally.
We are taking post-dated cheques for September to January at our April registration. If you plan on leaving the daycare, please remember that you are required to give 30-days notice (by August 1, 2014 if your child is not coming back in September). This courtesy allows another family in the community the benefit of a timely care solution and it protects our centre from lost revenues.
Q: What are the school-age rates for fall 2014?
A: We will revert back to our school-year rates of $550 per month, as of September 1, 2014.
Q: Why is the current environment so financially challenging for the daycare?
A: The introduction of full-day learning has taken a financial toll on all daycare centres in Ontario, including our own. Setting up the rooms involved extra costs, and we must now pay the TDSB rent for the JK/SK space we use on non-instructional days. Full-day learning also brought about the end of valuable subsidies that we relied upon to pay staff salaries. As a non-profit focused on delivering quality, affordable care, we already operate within a very tight margin. These new costs have forced us to be more scrupulous than ever about our finances over the course of the year.
Q: How has the camp programming changed compared to what was offered in previous summers?
A: The program is similar in some ways: it is still run by fully accredited early childhood educators, and focuses on educational play. However, under our new summer camp program we are offering an enhanced experience with additional “themed” programming, including special guests, two trips a week to special destinations and weekly swims at St. Alban’s.
Q: My children will be coming for most of the summer, is there a volume discount?
A: Yes, any child that attends the daycare camp for more than three weeks gets a 5 percent discount on fees. The translates to $204.25 a week for these children.
Q: What if I suddenly need to cancel a week of camp?
A: This is a new program and we have yet to determine our cancellation policy. By Registration Week, which will be the first week of April, we will have determined a fair policy that will likely include a non-refundable amount for late cancellations.
Q: Is the summer camp open to everyone or just existing HOE kids?
A: For the first time, anyone from the community can attend our summer camp. However, HOE kids get first dibs, so we will open spaces to the community only after registration week. If you have friends, neighbours or summer guests who are ages 6-12, they may also sign up to attend our camp program – so spread the word! (We also sometimes have limited space in our other rooms for younger children.)
Q: What if I decide after registration week that I need additional care?
A: We will be doing our best to fill all of our spots as early as we can. That said, as the summer gets rolling, we may still have space in our camp. We will post availability on our web site through the summer. If you need care at any time, just call 416-393-9291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our very best to help.