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Community Child Care

Sault Ste.Marie District Social Services Administration Board

Child Care Division Summary

The District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administrative Board is responsible for 20% of the program costs related to Child Care services and 50% of the cost of administration. Our programs are cost shared with the Ministry of Education. Child Care comprises 15% of the total DSSMSSAB budget.

Our objectives are to support the economic development of our community by investing in and managing an affordable, accessible, accountable, high quality child care system that is inclusive of children with special needs; to provide child care fee subsidies to families who qualify while supporting children’s early learning, parent’s education/employment and the overall community; and to provide leadership and support by working with community partners to build a seamless system of Early Years services for children and families.

Community Child Care supports Service System Management through leadership and oversight related to Child Care, Best Start Initiatives, Family Support programs and Special Needs programming as part of our contractual agreements with the Ministry of Education. Our Division contracts services with and provides funding to Licensed Not for Profit Child Care providers and provides subsidies for families accessing Child Care throughout the City and DSSMSSAB area. Licensed Services are provided under the Ontario Child Care & Early Years Act, 2014.

We enter into Service Contracts and work with 16 different Service Providers who offer 31 licensed child care programs, 4 Best Start sites and 35 approved homes. They offer approximately 1484 out of 1726 Licensed Child Care spaces in our community. Within these spaces, 699 children accessed a subsidized placement in 2014. Programs that fall under our system management are expected to participate in initiatives that promote quality and best practice across the sector.

The Not for Profit operators are independent corporations. They have their own Boards of Directors and directly employ their own staff. Funding flowed through the DSSMSSAB is only a portion of their revenue stream, since they have parents who pay the full amount of their child’s care and they may have other sources of revenues.

In 2007, in partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, we developed and continue to manage our Centralized Child Care Application Site. This is somewhat unique across the province and enables us to provide accurate data on the child care needs of the community while providing one point of access for parents. It eliminates the inefficiencies of multiple lists and reduces the loss of revenue from vacant child care spaces as well as provides many other benefits. On any given day we have over 500 children and their families on the waitlist needing to access a child care space.

To be eligible to receive funding through the DSSAB, Child Care programs must be licensed under the Ontario Child Care & Early Years Act, 2014 by the Ministry of Education. The Act establishes a host of minimum standards related to such matters as physical space, staff qualifications, child to staff ratio, health and safety, nutrition, and basic programming which the operators of child care and private-home day care agencies must meet to be licensed by the Province. These standards are in place to ensure the safety and quality of child care for children in licensed Child Care settings. Licensed centre-based care is provided in a variety of physical settings.

Overview of types of Child Care Funding Provided

Fee Subsidies

Fee subsidies assist eligible parents with the cost of the daily fees for the licensed Child Care provided to their child. Once the financial eligibility of the parent(s) has been determined based on an income test, the subsidy is paid directly to the service provider. The subsidy is the difference between the licensed Child Care provider’s established daily fee and the portion of the fee which the “income test” has determined the parent has the means to pay. The actual subsidy that the DSSMSSAB pays is attendance based and is driven by an attendance reporting system. Reimbursement to the provider occurs monthly based on attendance reports.


Ontario Works Child Care

Ontario Works child care provides funding for participants to cover child care costs incurred while participating in an approved activity, such as training, skills development, or employment.  Like Fee Subsidy, payments are made directly to the provider on behalf of the parent(s). Ontario Works clients are not subject to an income test. Funding is also attendance based and is driven by an attendance reporting system.    It is a temporary child care option until a subsidized child care space in a licensed centre or home can be accessed.

If formal (licensed) care is not available, funding for informal (unlicensed) care may be issued.


General Operating Grant

The purpose of the General Operating Grant is to support the costs of operating licensed child care programs in order to reduce wait times and fees for services, stabilize service levels, and where funds allow, improve access to high quality affordable early learning and child care services for children and their families.

Eligibility Criteria

Child care operators are required to:

  • be licensed under the Ontario Child Care & Early Years Act, 2014
  • meet their minimum wage and mandatory benefits requirements without the use of the operating grant
  • engage in service planning and service delivery networks;
  • participate in quality assessment and improvement initiatives;
  • be incorporated as a not-for-profit organization


Special Needs Resourcing (SNR)

This funding stream provides funding for staff, training, equipment, supplies or services needed to support the inclusion of children with special needs in licensed child care settings. In our area these services are provided by Early Learning Resources (ELR), a program administered by the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre–Algoma. ELR provides child care centres with Resource Consultant support, education, consultation, and co-teaching in order to successfully include children with special needs.


Capacity Building

This funding is intended to support profession development opportunities that build the capacity of licensed child care operators, supervisors, program/staff/caregivers, home visitors, home child care and non-volunteer board members to support the provision of high quality programs for children ages 0 – 12.

The goal of capacity building funding is to provide professional development opportunities that support:


  • high quality child care programs for children ages 0-12 that are child-centered and provide environments and experiences to engage children in active, creative and meaningful exploration and learning;
  • the health, safety and well-being of children; and
  •  capacity in child care program business administration.


Transformation Expense

Transformation funding is primarily available to support one-time business transformation costs for eligible Child Care operators that are involved in business transformation activities and/or require business transformation supports. In some cases it may be used for other approved purposes. 

Business transformation activities are defined as, but not limited to the following:


  • the amalgamation of two or more child care programs in a school or community setting;
  • the relocation of a child care program to a school or within the community; or
  • the retrofitting of an existing child care program to serve younger age groups.


Repairs and Maintenance /Health and Safety

Repairs and Maintenance funding  assists Child Care operators in complying with licensing requirements under the Ontario Child Care & Early Years Act, 2014 as well as health and safety practices, the upkeep of equipment and property repairs and maintenance. It will support the provision of high quality programs for children ages 0-12.

Child Care operators may apply for one time funding to cover costs related to repairs, minor renovations, furnishings and equipment.


Capital Retrofit Funding

This funding is used to support the child care system as it transitions to serve children ages 0-4 during the implementation of Full-Day Kindergarten.

One-time funding may be provided to non-profit licensed child care programs for capital retrofits to re-purpose existing licensed programs to serve younger age groups where 4 and 5 year old children are moving to Full-Day Kindergarten.


Wage Enhancement Funding

Introduced in 2015, the provincial wage enhancement initiative is to benefit low-income child care program staff in the sector, help retain Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs), and support access to stable, high quality child care programs for children and families.

The Wage Enhancement Grant will support a wage increase of up to $1 per hour in 2015, plus 17.5% benefits to Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) and other child care program staff working in licensed child care centres. Child care wage enhancement funding is available to eligible child care program staff whose positions can be counted toward adult to child ratios under the Ontario Child Care & Early Years Act, 2014

Early Years Funding

Funding for Early Years Programs in Supports is also part of our contractual obligations with the Ministry of Education. 


Family Support and Resource Centres (FRC) (also known as Best Start Hubs)

Centres provide a range of family supports and resources to caregivers with children aged 0-12 years and support families in their efforts to access quality child care in both formal and informal child care settings.  They also provide direction to parents seeking child development and care information. FRC’s provide services such as drop-in programs and referrals. They offer a range of free services including:

  • early learning and literacy programs for parents and their children;
  • parenting programs that support parents and caregivers of young children in all aspects of early childhood development; and
  • information and training for new parents about pregnancy and parenting


Early Childhood Development Planning

The Province allocates funding to support a community based network of family and children’s services (Best Start Networks) with representatives from organizations that offer health, education, social supports and specialized children’s services in order to facilitate better integration of services. The purpose of this funding is to cover costs of meetings, travel or accommodation, rental of meeting space and development of community service plans.    In addition to overseeing these funds the DSSMSSAB provides leadership and support for all Early Years Initiatives in the community.  Early Year’s service providers, community agencies and provincial representatives meet to identify and discuss program and community needs as well as gaps and duplications in service and work in partnership to support children and families in the community.


Aboriginal Funding

The Best Start Network also receives funding to engage and strengthen relationships with Aboriginal partners and/or deliver more integrated services for Aboriginal children and families.