Child Care Now’s submission to the Department of Finance’s 2022 pre budget consultation says the federal government’s promise of at least 200,000 new licensed early learning and child care spaces over the next five years cannot be realized without a federal capital expansion program.
“The existing federal commitments are insufficient to cover the capital cost of construction, or property/land acquisition, that will be required to achieve the promised number of new not-for-profit and public licensed child care spaces,” says Child Care Now.
Child Care Now says capital costs associated with constructing child care centre spaces differ by age group and location. Drawing on cost estimates for construction alone and not taking into account the purchase of land or property, Child Care Now estimates the average cost of constructing one space to be at least $50,000 per space, or $10 billion for 200,000 spaces.
In its brief to the federal government, Child Care Now calls for a federal capital funding program designed to support the cost of planned expansion in high-quality facilities. The fund should be available to cover the purchase and development of land design and construction of new facilities, purchase of existing facilities, and costs associated with renovating or rehabilitating existing facilities.
Child Care Now argues against distributing public capital funds through application-based and/or competitive processes because they cannot guarantee that expansion will occur where it is needed most. Child Care Now says a public community planning process is essential to guarantee that federal funds are used most effectively to fulfill the government’s expansion commitments. Further, Child Care Now says the program should be designed, and criteria and regulations established, to ensure that federal capital funds are not used to support the acquisition of facilities or other real estate holdings by for-profit corporations or other for-profit entities.