Bermuda Fables

"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." – Charles De Gaulle

Day Care Centres August 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — alsys @ 2:08 pm

A lot has been said about this topic, starting from last years’ election promises to the lack of funding pertaining to implementation of it noted in the Budget Speech to the hoopla caused by the Government’s decision to focus on and enforce the Child Care Law’s restriction as to ratio numbers of children to caregivers. Finally we come to a couple of weeks ago, where it was announced by the Government that Means Tested Day Care will be available to bermudian families, with a capped salary of no more than $70k, by a system of vouchers. As some who already know me and some who simply read my newspaper article, day care/child care is an issue near and dear to my heart, for reasons that are patently obvious. And I applaud the government for coming up with a solution – although I sincerely hope it is a tiered solution of which this is the first stage. This has been a touchy subject for many and I admit I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this would be happening sooner rather than later. I mean, the sheer logistics of this is boggling if you sit down and really think about it (which I have – much to the horror of anyone who has had to listen to me pontificate on the subject ad nauseam…).  I’m gonna focus on day care voucher system for today and perhaps in the future, I can focus on the other parts of this issue that I mentioned above.

 

I tried to research as much as I could before writing this post, but the Child Day Care Allowance Act has not been added into the Bermuda Laws online database as yet. Funnily enough I couldn’t actually find a press statement, besides that of the RG, online either. I thought I remembered seeing information on the PLP website previously but I was a bit tired last night and couldn’t to find it, on there or the Government website. My apologies if it is indeed on either of those sites. (And if anyone does find it, can you please send me the link?) So, if there are any mistakes in my post, I blame the Hood’s quiz night… So, from what I have surmised, this Act – which is not in implementation stages yet – is offering Government vouchers of an as yet undisclosed amount to be proffered to bermudian families that are then to be paid to a day care centre. I have some questions and concerns for this.

1. “as yet undisclosed amount” – I think this is a very important bit of information. Will the amount be defined by gov’t, by the need based on salaries or by how much the centre charges? As you can imagine, the criteria for this could posssibly denote vastly different amounts, which could then lead to abuse of the system. I will be following the information released closely.

2. “Means Tested” – The number of $70k is I think a good-ish number. I would love to see where the number came from, especially considering the poverty study that came out and their numbers. However, is this a  household salary number or a primary caregiver number? Does it take into account the actual expenses said parent(s) incur monthly? Like, if you own your house outright versus those who rent/have a mortgage or if you live with your parents (single parents mostly). Does it take into account income received as child support? Will there be any allowances for those who make slightly above that threshold?

3.”bermudian families” – I know this was a bit of a talking point, especially from the UBP. Many have wondered why low income non-bermudian families were not included in this act. Personally I think that that they should be allowed but as I said before, I am hoping this is a tiered process and I firmly believe that they will be included at a later date.  But for now, the fact that this is happening at all is most important. And yeah, bermudians do come first – not only – but first. I do however wonder if in the cases that the child is dual-nationality and the non-bermudian parent is the primary caregiver and resident, how this will work out. Will it be based on the child’s nationality?

4. “voucher system” – I actually was under the impression after listening to this idea during the election, that the gov’t intended to open Day Care Centres themselves. As the biggest problem we, as parents, face is finding day care at the nursery level that is registered, affordable and that offers a curriculum that promotes learning, that seemed elementary. Thusly, I had assumed that, logistical nightmare that it is aside, the gov’t would offer public nursery schools and beef up their public pre-school offerings. This is not to be the case, but as I noted above and as was reported in the RG, the gov’t is looking at places to open child care centres. I haven’t been able to find out if this is a definite plan that is in the works but I sincerely hope so. IMO this would alleviate the “foreigner” discrimination issue, alleviate the various administration problems that I am sure will arise due to the voucher system AND create less chances for abuse of the system.

 

Child care is an issue that on the surface seems to be simple but I personally believe that the first couple years of a child life and the daily care they receive during that time can shape a country. Lessons learned at an almost cellular level will echo through that that child’s whole life, into adulthood, and thusly affect those who said child comes into contact with. It is not the gov’ts responsibility to raise our children but it is their responsibility to create the framework in which we can raise our children safely and in manner which bodes well for future generations. This new Act is our gov’ts first step and I look forward to seeing what more is to come.

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21 Responses to “Day Care Centres”

  1. LaVerne Furbert Says:

    Hi Alsys,

    Minister Butler and the Director of Financial Assistance were on the Everest DaCosta talk show today explaining how the child care programme will actually work. Hopefully, they’ll put out a follow-up press statement.

    With regards to low-income non-Bermudian families, I don’t think that there are any, simply because guest workers who want to bring their families to Bermuda have to show that they can support them. Some may disagree with this policy, however I do not think that Bermuda should give financial assistance to guest workers simply because there are many needs by Bermudians and their families in many areas. That would only increase the budget.

    LaVerne Furbert

    P.S. Congratulations on your new blog. Maybe it will serve as inspiration to me.

  2. alsys Says:

    Hi Ms. Furbert

    Thanks for popping by. I did see that Minister Butler was going to be on the radio but unfortunately, I didn’t have access to a radio at work. I was indeed hoping that any pertinent information would be posted on either the PLP blog or the appropraite gov’t website.

    I actually know a few ex-pat families, that would be termed as low-income but I agree they are indeed not the norm. Thusly, I would hope that the gov’t would considering offering them the same benefits, benefits paid for by the taxes they also pay. Again, I do understand however, that the primary concern is Bermudian families. It’s just that the importance of structured primary care should be something that extends to all.

    Tia

    PS, it can get a bit addictive mind, but it’s fun. I really look forward to learning from people who wish to interact.

  3. Canuck In Bermuda Says:

    Ms Furburt, did you use any of Canada’s social services while you were there? Health care comes to mind…

  4. Guilden M. Gilbert, Jr. Says:

    Canuck,

    What does that have to do with the topic of day care in Bermuda which is an ongoing matter. Clearly LaVerne lives in Bermuda any any health she may have required would have been for emergency purposes, whcih would be paid by her Bermuda medical insurance provider, otherwise she would pay upfront for her services and be reimbursed by her medical insurer.

    Canada has a national healthcare system and only Canadian residents benefit from this services under the national healthcare programme.

    So how can you compare the topic of free daycare for lower income Bermudians to a Bermudian accessing the Canadian national healthcare system? Sounds like you are only trying to cause mischief to me.

    By the way, just so you are aware, I am a self-employed insurance broker in the Bahamas with Health & Life coverage representing a fairly sizable portion of my book of business and the Bahamas Government has been considering a national healthcare system for the Bahamas similar in nature to that of Canada and the U.K. So before, you jump to any conclusion I do have a “little bit” of knowledge on this topic.

  5. alsys31 Says:

    Hi Guilden, I think Canuck is referring to the time which Ms Furbert lived in Canada with her sons. I’m not sure.

  6. Guilden M. Gilbert, Jr. Says:

    Hey Alsys,

    May be he was but even that is comparing apples and oranges. The Canadian national heathcare system is supported by a high rate of income tax, even this is not enough to allow it to break-even. The difference is that the day care programme as outlined by the Bermuda Government is for Bermudian families earning below a certain level of income and I agree with you that it should be extended to expats in that category as well.

    The daycare programme was never intended to be a national daycare programme, it has clearly defined parameters. The Canadian national healthcare system is designed to provide healthcare to ALL Canadian residents.

  7. alsys31 Says:

    True. I would personally prefer a national daycare programme but I do believe that will come in time.

  8. Guilden M. Gilbert, Jr. Says:

    Hey what’s with the emoticon assigned to me? Is that supposed to make me look wise and sophisticated? LOL

  9. alsys31 Says:

    Hah. Um… sure it is….

    No, the emoticons are automatically generated algortihms randomly translated into pictures. Same pc, same pic.

  10. 9Ps Says:

    Guilden,

    I think Canuck does have a valid point. When I was in Canada i was afforded the same health coverage as the normal tax paying Canadian citizen. For instance I broke my wrist in my stay there and had a cast on for four months and countless Dr. appointments as well as physio appts. once the cast was off. How much did I end up paying…$0.

    I was granted this because I was paying into the same tax system that afforded the National Health Care system. There in lies the comparibility factor between BDA’s day care initiative and CA’shealth care system.

    So these low income families (i.e. many of the Asians that work as chefs and waiters and the Portuguese who do the gardening, office cleanin – the jobs Bermudians have come to feel that they are too good for) non-Bermudian families do exist. These families are paying their tax dollars (from the hard earned money they earned) into the same system that us Bermudians are. Though they are not large in number is just another reason for them to be included in this new policy, for they won’t be a burden or detract away from the needs of means tested Bermudian families.

    The children form these same families are allowed to attend public school for free due to the taxes that are paid to the Bermudian Government, so what is so different between the day care and public primary and high schools?

    I applaud teh Government on this initiative, but I also see where the discriminatory factor is coming into play as well.

  11. 9Ps Says:

    Sorry for the typos guys

  12. Guilden M. Gilbert, Jr. Says:

    9Ps,

    You were living ad working in Canada and were paying tax, therefore, you were fully entitled to the national healthcare benefits.

    If Canuck was referring to a point in time where LaVerne resided in Canada, that is, she was recognised as a Canadian resident (I would not know if this was the case, maybe Canuck does), then she would be entitled to access the national healthcare system. If he was referring to her visiting Canada, she would not be entitled to such benefits.

    Please see my earlier post to Alsys where I stated that I agree with her position that low income expats should be entitled to the free daycare. So your comments on that are preaching to the converted.

  13. LaVerne Furbert Says:

    It is amazing that someone would question whether I used any of Canada’s social services while I was living there? Although I don’t believe it’s anyone’s business, least of all Canuck and 9Ps, I will say that while I lived in Canada I was married to a Canadian and in addition to that I worked and paid health insurance. By the way, as is now, I rarely used my health insurance. Also, keep in mind that 40 years ago Canada was begging for people to come there to live. In fact, at that time all one had to do was get a job and then apply for a work permit. I’m sure things have changed greatly since then. I can also say that Canada was so interested in increasing its population that they gave out “baby bonuses” to residents. I don’t know if that practice still exists.

    By the way, Alsys, how do you know that the people that you see are guest workers? Maybe, they’re long-term residents, which is a different category altogether. I certainly would not be able to look at anyone and see if they require financial assistance. I know many Bermudians who appear to be well-dressed and who have all of the amenities in their homes, but would say that they need financial assistance.

  14. alsys31 Says:

    They were my neighbours and I got to be good friends with the wife.

    I know there are some that are Bermuda-poor, but these guys certainly weren’t.

  15. LaVerne Furbert Says:

    Okay. I’ll take you word for it. But does the wife work?

  16. Canuck In Bermuda Says:

    Guilden,

    “You were living ad working in Canada and were paying tax, therefore, you were fully entitled to the national healthcare benefits.

    If Canuck was referring to a point in time where LaVerne resided in Canada, that is, she was recognised as a Canadian resident (I would not know if this was the case, maybe Canuck does), then she would be entitled to access the national healthcare system. If he was referring to her visiting Canada, she would not be entitled to such benefits.”

    Exactly the point I was getting at, though perhaps in the wrong way. Seems to me that if you replace “Canada” with “Bermuda” the same type of thing should hold shouldn’t it? My post was prompted by Ms Furbert’s line “Some may disagree with this policy, however I do not think that Bermuda should give financial assistance to guest workers simply because there are many needs by Bermudians and their families in many areas.” – count me as one who disagrees then!

  17. Canuck In Bermuda Says:

    Just to round out my post above a bit… In general I think the concept is a great idea though as always there are details that could really make/break the whole thing.

    While I like means-tested, I think that ultimately it’s going to prove to be very difficult to maintain a system that’s anywhere close to “fair”. Anyway, dealing with the situation as we have it now, I think the thresholds might be a bit low but hey, ya gotta start somewhere as Alsys has pointed out already. I haven’t read this anywhere, but like Alsys also points out, I hope it’s done on some sort of sliding scale. “Free ride” (more on that later) below family income of $x, and then, just throwing numbers out there, 10% less than full benefit for every $5K over $x or something. Unfortunately a sliding scale is pretty open to abuse; generally, Bermudians are a pretty enterprising bunch and are sure to find no end of ways to work that type of system to their advantage – kind of defeating the whole means tested concept!

    Now, on to this voucher business… again, conceptually I like it buttttt… there’s always a but isn’t there? Bermuda has an extraordinarily status conscious society and I’d be worried that some people who are juuuuuust able to bear the cost on their own through making many other sacrifices (possibly nutritional, not good for kids) will end up not using the system out of pride or worry that someone will find out etc. Perhaps I haven’t explained that very well but I hopefully it at least sort of came across. Obviously I don’t have a better solution as long as we’re dealing with assistance for independent day cares.

    Thirdly, as you’re all aware I have a bit of a problem with kids of people holding work permits or PRCs getting excluded from this – I don’t really see any reason for it other than political point-scoring which is kinda sad.

    Anyway, all of that leads me to the conclusion that the government should get into the day care business. Bermuda is small enough to make it work, and it’d probably end up being easier than solving the problems associated with a means-tested and voucher system. Free day care for all residents, period, that’s it. Covers Bermudians (obviously), and includes expats (paying taxes) with kids since by definition it’s next to be impossible to be here without a job or at least tied to someone with a job. Means testing would more or less take care of itself since the parents of Charles Goodfellow Longbottom Wigglewuggum IV would still be sending him to Frufru Academy on their own dime anyway, and any social stigma attached to a voucher system would be gone since it simply wouldn’t exist.

    I’d like to see this be step one, with step two being universal. My (probably too long) $0.02

  18. 9Ps Says:

    “You were living ad working in Canada and were paying tax, therefore, you were fully entitled to the national healthcare benefits.”

    guilden,

    Your quote (above) is no different than my point. These low income non-Bermudian families alsp pay taxes to our system. So what is the difference between being afforded healthcare in canada and daycare in bda? Why are they allowed to attend public school for free but will refuse entry to daycare to these same families?

    PS: My point was in no way related to Ms. Furbert’s past. I have no desire to know anything about her past or her future, I try and stay away from negative and hateful individuals. So don’t flatter yourself Ms. Furbert you are not that important.

  19. 9Ps Says:

    Ms. Furbet,

    i hope you realize that with your stance on this simple matter, shows how much you have changed since the turbulent times of the civil rights movement in BDA. You go on about how you fought to end discrminatory practices and bring about equality and now look at what you are doing, you are fighting FOR discrimination and against equality. How times have changed huh?

  20. 9Ps Says:

    guilden,

    i apologize. i didn’t read that last post correctly and obviously misinterpreted your stance on the issue. again i am sorry…

  21. Guilden M. GIlbert, Jr. Says:

    9Ps,

    No worries and no apology necessary.


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