Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Phonecall with my Worker re: Childcare

I phone up my worker because I am concerned about how I am going to get from point a to point b - being on welfare to getting childcare so I can GET A JOB. I read to Nadine about the Policy Directives regarding Childcare Deductions in Ontario Works.

Part VI, Section 49 (1) of Regulation 134/98 states:

49. (1) The following rules apply with respect to the treatment of earnings:
1. The sum of the total amount of gross monthly income from employment, the amounts paid
under a training program and net monthly income as determined by the administrator from
an interest in or operation of a business shall be reduced by, …
iv. child care expenses actually incurred for each dependent child and not
otherwise reimbursed or subject to reimbursement up to the maximum
amounts provided in paragraph 2 if,

A. the child care expenses are necessary to permit a
recipient, spouse or same-sex partner included in the
benefit unit or a dependent adult to be employed or to
participate in an employment assistance activity...

After reading this to my worker since she wasn't familiar with the clause she said, "So, what's your question?" I went on to explain to her yet again, that I need childcare assistance. She then replied to me with "You need to be in a employment program or going to school for Ontario Works to cover your childcare." I explained to her that I want to get a job and I cannot get a job because I do not have childcare. I am registered with a temporary staffing agency and they can't send me out to about 98% of the jobs they have because I cannot work full-time hours due to lack of childcare. My worker replies with "If you are employed, we won't help with childcare. Ontario Works will only help with childcare if you are going to school, in an employment program or doing community work. If I put in a request now you will be denied. Do you want to? Do you want me to put in a request? It'll come back denied." I tell her I want to put in a request.

I ask her about those employment programs, what they are and if she can refer me to one. Nadine tells me to come into the office there are postings on the boards there. I ask her again if OW have any employment programs she can refer me to and she says, "Come into the office and see one of the people at the front" She repeats to me as she has many times before, "You are to look for employment on your own.". I have been wondering what exactly she means by this. That no support or service is provided to me even though, I might add, I am new to this community? I suppose I will check out those services at the office, but until then, I suppose I am confounded as to why clients are not referred to such services.

Truth is, I don't really need employment services, but I am willing to go if it gets me some childcare. "I really just want to get a job..." I tell Nadine. "You won't be eligible for childcare assistance if you are employed. You need to contact Children's Services" She repeats herself while interrupting me as she has done already in our conversation. I ask her to listen to me, and let me finish what I am saying so I can explain my predicament. "I don't understand how I am expected to accept a full-time job if I don't have childcare already in place."

Now, I am certain that anyone with a child will understand what I am putting across here. One cannot start a job and then afterwards acquire the necessary childcare. What is one to tell a prospective employer for a start date or hours available? Childcare first, then acquisition of employment, is the logical sequence. Securing childcare is hard enough, it is not as if it can be done within hours of accepting a new position. The Childcare Services subsidy is definitely only effective if one has proof of employment and reliant on an actual subsidy approved facility having an opening. She knows this, as she pointed that out to me the first time I asked about childcare on December 7th, when we first met.

However, what's my worker's response to this? "I have many clients who work and they manage to figure it out" I am a bit taken aback by this comment as it in no way helps me. In fact, I had to hold myself back from responding with "No thanks to you, I am sure." Instead I responded with "So, can you explain to me how to do that? I want to start working. How can I get help with childcare in the interim so I can start working? I am registering with temp staffing agencies for contract work and they would love to give me work but I can't accept it... " I think this finally hits home with her because she explains to me then, "Yes, Ontario Works will pay for childcare until the subsidy comes through." Finally, a breakthrough. She explains to me that I need to give her the name of the childcare provider and the cost.

I am relieved. This is all I wanted to hear. I say, "Thank you! Why didn't you explain this to me before?" Nadine says "I did. The first day I explained this to you."


"No you didn't, you said..." I stop myself. I know that I wouldn't be worried about childcare, or having this discussion if she had mentioned this was available to me. I decide I am not going to have a back and forth yes i did-no you didn't with her.

I then tell her that the PLASP program at my child's school does not have an opening for after-school and I ask her if she they have a list or database or know of an agency that can help me find a provider. She states quite flatly, "N o." She adds that Ontario Works doesn't have a list and that, "You will have to do the research on your own." Thus, I am.

This experience make me wonder though, with all this obfuscation and reluctance to actually socially assist people, how does one make that leap effectively from welfare to self-care?

Next time on Mother Lode: What exactly is the role of the Ontario Works Case Administrator (worker)?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Childcare Limbo

My son's first day back and in a new school and I am caught in between a rock and a hard place. To get off of Welfare I have to get a job. In order to get a job I need childcare, BUT I cannot get child care subsidy unless I have a job. Yes, you read that right. My worker, Nadine, says that Ontario Works does not pay for childcare, not ever. The Region of Peel Children's Services needs 2 pay stubs to prove I am working in order to qualify for the subsidy.

So, I can't really afford to work. There is little in the way of incentive to get a job, even though I am required to look for one. Even if I was hired I wouldn't be able to accept because I have no childcare for before and after school. Not only do I not have childcare, but I have no way of paying for it. What kind of a welfare system provides no clear way out for those who wish to get a job and contribute to their community? How exactly am I supposed to become self-sufficient if the system hands me a fish instead of teaching me how to bait the hook?

This is what I am going to find out.

So far, not one service I have contacted about this has been able to help me bridge the gap between getting a childcare, a childcare subsidy, and my chances of acquiring a full-time, gainful employment. As it stands today, I have had to turn down two excellent opportunities because I have no child care, nor the ability to pay for it.