Funding Opportunities for Child Care Operators

Funding opportunities are available to child care operators who have a funding agreement with the City.  The purpose of available funding is to provide stability to child care programs and support staff retention.

To learn more about applying for funding, eligible expenses, guidelines and reporting requirements see the below information on the various funding opportunities.

View the funding calendar (PDF, 125 KB)  to find out when funding may become available.

The general operating for wages and system priorities funding is to support the cost of operating licensed child care programs in order to reduce wait times and fee for services, stabilize service levels, and improve access to high quality affordable early learning and child care services for children and their families.

Eligibility

General operating for wages funding

  • The wages portion of the funding allocation provides funds towards a wage increase for all employees filling permanent positions within licensed child care service programs. 
  • Funding can only be used for salary costs over and above the operator’s regulatory requirements for minimum wage and mandatory benefits.

System priorities funding

  • Child care operators along with the City of Hamilton will develop goals to support each operator’s individual needs to achieve the system priorities. 
  • The funding will provide child care operators with the financial flexibility to meet their target goals by recognizing that operators have unique strengths and challenges.

System Priorities

  • Quality - High quality programs that support children, parents and the early year’s environment. Working toward achieving the goals for children’s learning, development, health and well-being.
  • Sustainability - Reevaluate current business model and operations to incorporate new ideas and strategies to build a sustainable business that is responsive to the needs in the community.
  • Accessibility - Creating an environment which minimizes the barriers for families.
  • Integration - Creating strong cooperative relationships with other service providers and all early year systems; engaging parents and children to provide seamless services.

New for 2017: Hamilton Early Years Quality Program has been embedded into the system priorities template.  A new quality program is launching which will align with the early years community plan and meet the objectives of the funding agreement.

The Hamilton Early Years Quality Program is a framework and process to guide continuous quality assurance for organizations providing early years programs through funding agreements with the City of Hamilton.  The purpose of the program is to collectively make Hamilton the best place to raise a child and the best place to be a child, by cultivating high quality early years programs and services where children, families and educators are viewed as capable and competent.

The program consists of:

Participation in the new quality program is mandatory for all licensed childcare operators that currently have a funding agreement with the City of Hamilton.

How to apply

All child care operators who have a funding agreement with the City of Hamilton are eligible to apply for the wages portion by submitting the funding request submission package by the deadline. Funding agreements are negotiated on an annual basis for the period of January to December and funding is distributed monthly.

The funding request submission package will be sent out by email to all existing childcare operators who have a funding agreement with the City of Hamilton.

In order to receive the system priorities funding operators must complete a system priority template.   Once the template has been completed and the operator has met with the City of Hamilton funding will be distributed in a lump sum payment.  The amount of funding is determined annually based on the total System Priorities budget and the number of applications received. 

Reporting requirements

By the end of January child care operators who received funding for wages and system priorities for the previous year are required to complete and submit the financial reporting reconciliation templates verifying how they spent the funding issued. The reconciliation templates will be sent out by email to all operators prior to the due date.

Operators are required to maintain a record of the status of their goals and advise city staff of any changes.  The final status update will be recorded on the following year’s template.  If an operator fails to meet the requirements as outlined in the service contract, funds may be recovered and the childcare operator may be ineligible to receive any future funding. Child care operators are required to advise the City of Hamilton of any changes to operating levels.

The City of Hamilton will conduct random audits to verify compliance with the guidelines.

Does the 20% maximum for employer benefits include the mandatory benefit costs?
Yes. The maximum total for mandatory and non-mandatory benefits combined is 20%. As listed in the guidelines: “Child care operators may use up to 20% of the general operating for wages funding to cover mandatory and non-mandatory employer related benefits. Any additional amount needs to be preapproved by Hamilton staff”

The 1.0 FTE limitation of $15,000 – is this $15,000 max wages or $15,000 wages & benefits?
The maximum of $15,000 per FTE is for wages and benefits combined.

When the funding cannot be fully distributed, what is the process to transfer the excess funding to the system priorities?
As listed on page 4 of the guidelines:  If funding cannot be distributed in accordance with the guidelines, a request can be made to transfer the excess amount to the system priority funding. This should be identified prior to or during the one-on-one system priorities meeting with City of Hamilton and approval will be part of the system priority goal plan. If this is identified after the one-on-one system priorities meeting, a follow up meeting with the City of Hamilton may be required. Child care operators must report any child care program change that is expected to be ongoing. Downsizing of a program will result in a recalculation of the amount of eligible funding to support wages, however, the child care operator can make a request at this time for permission to transfer the excess funding to the system priorities funding.

Can a portion of the general pperating for wages funding be used to cover of cost of audited financial statements?
No. The wages portion of the general operating funding can only be used for wages and benefits. Child care operators can discuss any concerns and requests during the one-on-one system priorities meeting.

Will random audits be conducted on those who have already had an independent audit conducted?
Yes.  The City of Hamilton will be auditing the process. This may include items outside of the scope performed by the accountant for the audit (i.e. payroll audit to verify amount paid to individual staff).

If the centre has to hire additional staff, but does not change service levels, will there be additional general operating for wages funding available?
No. The application for general operating for wages and system priorities is an annual process for the following year’s funding. The funding formula is based on the operating capacity of the centre. 

If a centre has an increase to service levels, will there be additional general operating of wages funding available?
New or expanded programs will be placed on a pressures list and may be eligible to receive 2016 funding for wages and system priorities if funds become available. These programs will be eligible to apply for funding on the 2017 general operating for wages and system priorities funding request.

Child care operators will immediately report to the City of Hamilton any child care program change that is expected to be ongoing. Downsizing of a program will result in a recalculation of the amount of funding the childcare operator is eligible to receive to support wages. The childcare operator can make a request at this time for permission to transfer the excess funding to the system priorities funding.

What is a reasonable portion for each employee? If we hire someone new, do we have to take away some from other employees to give to a new employee to meet this guideline?Child care operators should develop a plan for distributing the wages money at the beginning of every year. If staffing increases, the City of Hamilton would not expect child care operators to take funding away from other staff; however this change would become part of the child care operator’s plan for the next year. A reasonable portion means that everyone should receive something; if staff numbers increase this would need to be incorporated in the next year’s plan.

As work hours vary, can the general operating for wages funding be issued as a lump sum payment at the end of the year?
The intent of the funding is for employees to be paid the money on their regular pays. If at the end of the year, there are undistributed funds, as long as it’s within the guidelines, a top-up can be issued.

On January 19, 2015 the provincial government announced that the Ministry of Education is increasing wages for eligible Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) and front-line child care professionals in licensed child care settings. 

The purpose of this funding is to:

  • Close the wage gap between RECEs working in the publicly funded education system and those in the licensed child care sector.
  • Help stabilize child care operators by supporting their ability to retain RECEs and non-RECE program staff.
  • Reduce poverty by supporting greater employment and income security.

Wage enhancement funding is available to eligible child care program staff whose positions can be counted toward adult to child ratios under the Child Care and Early years Act (CCEYA) working in all licensed child care centres, including Supervisors, as well as licensed private home day care home visitors and providers.

Eligibility

All licensed child care centres and home child care agencies that opened before January 1, 2017 are eligible to apply for Wage Enhancement / Home Child Care Enhancement Grant (HCCEG) funding. Licensed centres or agencies that are created in 2017 will only be eligible to apply in 2018.

Wage enhancement funding is available to eligible child care program staff whose positions can be counted toward adult to child ratios under the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) working in all licensed child care centres, including supervisors, as well as licensed private home day care home visitors and providers.

Consistent with the government's ongoing commitment, the 2017 Wage Enhancement Grant will continue to support an increase of up to $2 per hour, plus 17.5 per cent benefits for eligible centre-based staff and home visitors.  The HCCEG will support an increase of up to $20 per day for home child care providers.

As the intent of the wage enhancement is to close the wage gap between RECEs working in publicly funded schools and RECEs, child care program staff and providers in licensed child care settings, the ministry has established an hourly wage maximum.

The current salary cap of $26.27 per hour will be increased by approximately 1.5% to $26.68 per hour. The base daily fees cap for HCCEG will also increase in 2017 from $262.70 to $266.80 per day for full HCCEG ($160.08 for partial HCCEG).

The eligibility criteria used to determine the 2017 entitlement is based on positions and hours worked in 2016.

Eligibility requirements for Wage Enhancement Grant

To be eligible to receive the 2017 wage enhancement, child care professionals must:

  • Be employed in a child care positon that existed in a licensed child care centre or home child care agency, on December 31, 2016; and
  • Have an associated base wage excluding prior year’s wage enhancement of less than $24.68 per hour (i.e. $2 below the wage cap of $26.68); and
  • Be categorized as a child care supervisor, RECE, home child care visitor, or otherwise be counted toward adult to child ratios under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA).

Eligibility requirements for Home Child Care Enhancement Grant 

In order to be eligible to receive HCCEG, home child care providers must:

  • Hold a contract with a licensed home child care agency as of December 31, 2016; and
  • Provide services to one child or more (excluding provider’s own children).

To be eligible to receive the full HCCEG of $20 per day, home child care providers must:

  • Provide on average full-time services (6 hours or more hours); and
  • Receive base daily fees, excluding prior year’s HCCEG, of less than $246.80 (i.e. $20 below the cap of $266.80).

To be eligible to receive partial HCCEG of $10 per day, home child care providers must:

  • Provide on average part-time services (less than 6 hours); and
  • Receive base daily fees, excluding prior year’s HCCEG of less than $150.08 (i.e. $10 below the cap of $160.08).

Closure of a child care program

If a program closes in 2017, the eligible staff would receive wage enhancement funding for the hours worked until the program closure. The grant for the remaining year must be returned along with a reconciliation form.

How to apply

In order to be eligible for funding, operators must complete the wage enhancement funding application:

Forms can be sent by email to ccss@hamilton.ca no later than March 31, 2017. Applications received after this date will not be eligible for funding in 2017. 

Contact us

If you require additional information or require assistance to complete the funding application contact:

Child Care Systems Support Team
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 5126 
Email: ccss@hamilton.ca

Reporting requirements

Operators will be required to submit a 2017 Wage Enhancement reconciliation form in January 2018.  The reconciliation process will confirm that 100% of the Wage Enhancement Grant (WEG) / Home Child Care Enhancement Grant (HCCEG) was distributed directly for wages and benefits as per the ministry guidelines and that no portion of the WEG / HCCEG funding was used for any other purposes

All unassigned funds must be reported and returned to City of Hamilton.

Are non-program staff (e.g. cook, custodial staff, and administrator) eligible for wage enhancement?
Non-program staff positions may be eligible for wage enhancement funding where at least 25 per cent of the non-program staff position is used to support CCEYA ratio requirements. In these instances, the enhancement will be provided for the hours worked in the eligible position supporting ratio.

What if a Supervisor only spends 25 per cent of their time working directly with children? Does that mean they are only eligible for 25 per cent of the wage enhancement?
​Supervisors are required under the CCEYA, and are therefore eligible to receive the wage enhancement for 100 per cent of the time they are working in a licensed child care program, regardless of the amount of time they are working directly with children, provided they earn less than the cap.

Will wage enhancement funding be available to RECEs and other program staff employed by family support programs?
Wage enhancement funding is only available to child care professionals employed in licensed child care programs. At this time, there is no commitment for wage enhancement funding to be extended to staff in family support programs

Are Resource Teachers/consultants or supplemental staff employed to support the integration of children with special needs eligible for wage enhancement funding?
Resource Teachers/consultants or staff employed to support the integration of children with special needs are not eligible for wage enhancement funding as their positions may not be counted toward the required ratio of employees to children in regulated child care programs. In addition, Resource Teachers/consultants are typically hired through an agency and are not employed directly by licensed child care programs, and therefore are not eligible for wage enhancement.

The only exception to this provision is if the position is employed by a licensed child care program and at least 25 per cent of the position is used to support ratio requirements. In this case, the staff could be eligible for wage enhancement for the hours worked in the child care program supporting ratio.

Why is the 2017 wage enhancement/HCCEG based on the hours worked in 2016 positions?
As in previous years of the wage enhancement/HCCEG initiative, wage enhancement entitlement for operators is based on the hours worked by eligible positions in the previous year. This funding is then used to pay eligible staff for hours worked in 2017.

The HCCEG entitlement for agencies is based on eligible home child care provider’s time in program (part time or full time) and days worked in 2016. This funding is then used to make payments to eligible home child care providers for their time in program in 2017.

Can a child care operator provide wage enhancement/HCCEG to current eligible positions or can it only be provided to eligible positions that existed last year?

Entitlements are based on previous years’ information, however operators have the flexibility to provide wage enhancement/HCCEG to current eligible staff/providers for their hours or days worked in 2017. They also have flexibility in the use of the supplemental grant.

How do I know that my centre/agency will give me 100% of my wage enhancement/HCCEG?
Operators must clearly indicate on staff pay cheques and home child care provider fee transfers, the portion of funding that is being provided through the wage enhancement/HCCEG

Additionally, child care centres and participating home child care agencies are required to attest to their local municipality that they have provided 100% of wage enhancement/HCCEG funding directly to eligible child care staff/home care providers.

What happens if my operator does not apply for the funding?
The operator application process is posted on the City of Hamilton website and the deadline for submitting applications is March 31, 2017. Any operator who has not submitted an application for the wage enhancement by the deadline will not be allocated wage enhancement funding in 2017. Operators who miss the application deadline may apply for wage enhancement funding in 2018.

If the operator of my child care program does not apply for wage enhancement/HCCEG funding, what is my recourse?
As child care centres/licensed home child care agencies are independent businesses the Ministry of Education cannot require that they apply for wage enhancement/HCCEG funding.

If I am no longer working at a child care centre, am I eligible for the hours I worked?
Yes, as long as the operator applied and your position was approved you should receive wage enhancement funding

What happens if my centre runs out of wage enhancement funding before the end of 2017?
The centre is not required to absorb the additional cost to continue funding the enhancement. They can then stop paying wage enhancement as the set amount for that centre has been depleted.

I am entitled to a raise in 2017 based on my centre’s salary grid. Will the wage enhancement be paid to me on top of the level I will be at on the salary grid?
Yes, the wage enhancement/HCCEG funding will be provided to eligible child care professionals in addition to their existing compensation (excluding prior year’s wage enhancement amount) as long as the associated wage is less than $24.68 per hour.

I am a provider who was not working with an agency in 2016, but recently joined a home child care agency in 2017; can I receive HCCEG in 2017?
Agencies have the flexibility to provide HCCEG to newly contracted home child care providers in 2017 as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and funding is available. The criteria to pay new home child care providers is set by each agency - please contact your agency for details.

Who do I contact if I have concerns about this funding such as how it is being used?
As the service system managers for child care, municipalities will manage public inquiries related to the wage enhancement.  Examples of the type of inquiries include:

  • The process for applying for wage enhancement funding;
  • How child care professionals can determine if their operator has applied for funding; and,
  • How child care professionals can report an operator’s misuse of funding such as if they have not received their increase and more.

In Hamilton, please direct any inquiries or concerns to the Child Care Systems Support Team at 905-546-2424 ext. 5126 or ccss@hamilton.ca.

Do I need to re-apply for funding every year?
Yes, wage enhancement/HCCEG funding entitlement is allocated to operators based on the hours worked in qualifying positions for the prior year. In the case of home child care providers, the HCCEG entitlement is allocated to home child care agencies based on the actual number of days worked in the prior year. This means that operators will be required to apply for funding every year to update this information.

Why am I responsible for applying for funding on behalf of my staff?
All provincial child care funding is flowed from the Ministry of Education to municipalities and then from municipalities to operators through a service agreement process. The same process is used for wage enhancement funding. Applications are used to determine an operator’s wage enhancement funding entitlement.

What benefits are included as part of the 17.5% earmarked for employer-related benefits?
The following is a breakdown of the mandatory benefits for child care professionals. There is some variance in the requirements, which is why the cap is 17.5%.

Statutory Contributions Percentage
Canada Pension Plan (CPP), max $52,500 4.95%
Employment Insurance (EI), max $48,600 2.63%
Workers Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) 1.10%
Employer Health Tax (EHT) 1.23%
Vacation Pay 4%
Public Holiday Pay 3.59%
Total 17.50%

My centre provides benefits at a rate higher than 17.5 percent. If I apply for the wage enhancement funding am I taking on a financial pressure for the benefits I provide over 17.5 per cent? Is there additional funding to support this cost?
Operators will be provided with a supplemental grant to support shortfalls related to wage enhancement. The funding can be used to provide wage enhancement for additional days/hours worked, sick time, off site professional development days, and/or additional benefits.

What is the supplemental grant and what can it be used for?
In addition to wage enhancement and HCCEG funding, in 2017 the ministry will provide a supplemental grant for operators, equal to $150 for each eligible centre based FTE or home visitor FTE and $50 for each eligible home child care provider. This grant will be automatically calculated on the application forms, based on the information provided by operators.

The supplemental grant must be used to support staff, home visitors and providers’ hourly/daily wage or benefits, and provides operators with the flexibility to cover salary shortfalls due to increased hours or staffing, and additional benefits (e.g. additional time in program, new staff or providers, vacation days, sick days or PD days and/or other benefits) once mandatory benefits are covered. Any funding that is not used for these purposes will be recovered.

As a child care operator, what impact does wage enhancement have on my historical pay equity obligations?
Wage enhancement funding must be provided in addition to pay equity payments agreed to under the pay equity memorandum of settlement.

Does the wage enhancement funding replace the funding that my program receives from the municipality to pay for staff wages, such as general operating grant?
No, wage enhancement funding is a new investment and will be provided in addition to other funding sources, where applicable.

I am unable to locate the application form? Where can I find it?
The application form can be found on this website.

I missed the application deadline. Can I request an extension?
Unfortunately, there are no extensions for the provision of wage enhancement and HCCEG funding in 2017. However, you can apply for funding in 2018.

I am having difficulty completing a portion of the application form. Who can help me?
Please contact the Child Care Systems Support Team at 905-546-2424 ext. 5126 or ccss@hamilton.ca for support.

When will the City of Hamilton provide wage enhancement funding to child care operators?
Operators must complete the Wage Enhancement funding application and return it to the City of Hamilton no later than March 31, 2017. Details of the allocations will be available no later than June 30, 2017.

Are licensed Head Start programs funded through Health Canada eligible for wage enhancement?
Yes, all licensed child care programs may apply for wage enhancement funding.

Will wage enhancement funding be available to RECEs and other program staff employed by family support programs?
Wage enhancement funding is only available to child care professionals employed in licensed child care settings. At this time, there is no commitment for wage enhancement funding to be extended to staff in family support programs.