By: Joe Amodio
Parents who pick their child up late from Park Lawn Preschool will notice their wallets feeling slightly lighter.
The child care centre announced Wednesday that parents would be paying fees up to $300 per child and receive a call from Children’s Aid Society if they are over an hour late for pick-up.
The late fees start as soon as the clock is one minute past pick-up time. Park Lawn Preschool declined an interview with Humber News to explain the penalties that some think are too harsh.
Lyndsay Macdonald, Coordinator of The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario, said that staff need to get paid for extra work, however, the penalties seem excessive
“I understand the issue but it’s unaffordable for most parents, especially parents who live in the city of Toronto. A study that was released this year said 75 per cent of families in Toronto can’t afford child care,” Macdonald said.
Toni Pellicano, Executive Director of Kids Come First Child Care Centre, said that staff in her child care center are exposed to waiting with children past their shift and it can be frustrating at times.
“Not by a few minutes, but when it’s every day or three or four times a week it feels like there’s a lack of respect for staff, they have children they have families they have dinners they have to get to,” Pellicano said.
Pellicano knows it’s disrespectful to have Early Childhood Educators waiting, but said the price and calling the CAS is excessive. Melissa Pelullo, an ECE working in Aurora, said she doesn’t enjoy staying late but feels that the focus shouldn’t be on her.
“300 dollars is expensive. Yes, it is annoying, but that’s my job sometimes. The sad part is, it’s the same children. They are left alone to play and wait for their parents after everyone’s gone home. Some children even think their parents forgot about them,” Pelullo said.
While the fees are designed to diminish parents taking advantage of extra free time without the kids, the best of us are late sometimes for circumstances that are out of our control.
Catherine, the mother of a 3-year-old, drops her son off at a Montessori school located in Peel Region and is glad the fees aren’t the same within her school, but believes everyone has the right to be late once in a while.
“I do understand why it’s happening. I just don’t understand how they came to that amount but I’m thankful we don’t get charged 300 dollars for being late. There has to be circumstances when someone can be late. Things do happen sometimes,” Catherine said.
Executive Director of Kids Come First Child Care Centre admits to having penalties of their own for late parents and is aware that the fees are in place for a reason.
“Five dollars for every five minutes. Something has to be done to get parents there on time, do I think 300 dollars for over an hour is exorbitant? I do.”
“It’s a real problem but I don’t know what the answer is,” Pellicano said.