Vancouver City Council
Date: February 11, 2003
Author/Local: Rick Gates/6036
Carol Ann Young/6042
RTS No. 3189
CC File No. 2151/2402
CS&B: February 27, 2003
Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets
Director of Social Planning
2003 Community Services and Childcare Grants Budgets
A. THAT Council approve a 2003 Community Services Grants budget of $3,029,700.
B. THAT Council approve 2003 Childcare Grants Program budget of $706,800, to be allocated to the grant categories outlined in this report.
CITY MANAGER'S COMMENTS
This is one of two reports setting the overall grant budgets for Community Services, Childcare, Cultural, Major Institutional, and Celebration categories.
As Council is aware, the City is in the midst of reviewing its 2003 Operating Budget and Council has not yet had the opportunity to evaluate its overall funding priorities. Unfortunately, staff need to proceed with the review and make recommendations on grant applications prior to the final budget being approved. As a result, staff feel it is important to provide a provisional budget for the two major grant categories prior to finalizing the budget in April 2003.
The budget set for these grant categories is based on last year's budget plus a base inflation adjustment of 1.75%. I am recommending that Council approve this funding since it does not change the relative funding level for these grant categories and it provides staff with the basis on which to begin the grant review process. Should Council decide to adjust the overall funding for these grant categories, Council will have that opportunity when setting the 2003 CityOperating Budget, at which time Council will be able to assess funding priorities relative to all City programs and services.
Council established the annual Community Services Grants program in 1978. On September 30, 1993 City Council adopted a set of principles, criteria and priorities for this Grants program.
Council established the annual civic childcare grants program on October 23, 1990, as part of the Civic Childcare Strategy. The overall objectives of this grant program are:
· to support the viability, accessibility and quality of existing childcare services;
· to assist childcare initiatives in high need areas;
· to encourage and support efficient, co-ordinated administrative services required for a childcare system in Vancouver;
· to lever other sources of childcare funding whenever possible
Council approved "Moving Forward" - Childcare: A Cornerstone of Childhood Development in April, 2002, which set out a strategic plan for childcare and child development services for the City.
The purpose of this report is to establish a budget ceiling for the 2003 Community Services Grants and Childcare Grants programs.
Community Services Grants
Community Services Grants (CSG) are given by the City to support non-profit organizations which are working with each other, the various levels of government (including the City) and residents to address social problems and to bring about positive social change. CSG's represent an important and necessary tool which helps the City to achieve its goal of ensuring that accessible, equitable and appropriate social services are available to all residents.
On September 30, 1993 City Council adopted a set of principles, criteria and priorities for Community Services Grants; some minor changes were made by Council in 1994 and again in 1995. For the past 10 years, these criteria and priorities have worked well in terms of
meeting the needs of the City and the community. However, over this time period, therehave been on-going changes in the demographics of residents, their needs, and the types of programs and services designed to meet these needs; so a review of the program is due to ensure its continuing relevance. Also, the changes in the social services sector being planned and implemented by the Provincial Government are having a profound effect on many of the agencies that the City funds and their program participants.
Consequently, Social Planning staff have initiated a review of all aspects of the CSG program, including program objectives, the application and evaluation process and the criteria and priorities, that will continue as soon as this round of grant reviews has been completed. Full participation of community organizations (funded and unfunded) has been built into this program review process. Our intention is that any required changes to the program be implemented later this year in time for the 2004 CSG program.
Since 1995, the CSG program has been relatively stable and the types and numbers of applications have been fairly consistent. Table 1, below, gives the application statistics for the past 4 years.
Table 1 - Community Services Grants Applications
Types of applications
Applied the previous year,
but not funded
Total amount requested
Much of the increase in requested funding this year comes from organizations that received grants last year, but are now asking for increases. A total of 25 groups are seeking increases of more than 25%, for a total of $423,000 in additional funding. Also, 3 of the new applications are from organizations that already receive City funding, but they are asking for additional grants for new programs or services.
As we conducted our review of grant applications, staff again noticed continuing improvements in most services and the manner in which they are provided. In particular, almost all of the applicants are responding favourably to the City's direction that they work more closely together and that they be more inclusive, both at the internal organizational level and in terms of the people they are serving. This kind of influence in the non-profit sector would not be possible without the ability to fund the organizations where we want to see changes.
The approved 2002 CSG budget was $2,977,600. The Manager of Budgets advises that, to maintain the current monetary value of the grants budget, an inflation adjustment of 1.75% ($52,100) is required. Applying this adjustment results in a 2003 CSG budget of $3,029,700.
To ensure stability and continuity in the community services sector, the City has placed a high priority on providing on-going funding to those organizations that already receive CS Grants. With the budget remaining at the same level, little is available for new grants or additional funding for existing grants. In the past we have often applied the inflation adjustment to fund either grant increases or new groups thereby eliminating the inflation adjustment to existing grants.
CS Grants are paid out on a quarterly basis, with the first payment being made in early April. Many of the community organizations we fund don't have sufficient cash flow to enable them to continue functioning much past the early April cheque from the City. Consequently, it is not feasible to put off establishing the grants budgets until the overall City budget process has been completed. The establishment of the grants budget provides the financial parameters within which staff operate when developing their recommendations on individual grants, particularly with regards to new or increased grants.
Besides the individual grants, also included within the grants budget is an allocation for the Partners in Organizational Development (P.O.D.) program ($20,000 was allocated in 2002). P.O.D. was initiated in 1989 as a jointly funded partnership of the Vancouver Foundation, United Way, Secretary of State and the City, to help non-profit organizations deal with common organizational problems. In 1994, additional Federal and Provincial partners also agreed to provide funding to this program. City funding for this program comes from the Community Services Grants budget.
P.O.D. aims to strengthen community organizations' capacity to work more effectively and efficiently. Small grants, averaging $4,000 per group, are given to assist in the development of strategic plans or to bring about organizational change. This is a very successful program, with increasing demand every year. Consequently, staff will be recommending again that $20,000 be set aside from the CSG budget for P.O.D.
In 2002, Council approved an overall Childcare Grants budget of $694,647 and, during the year, Council then approved 58 grant allocations from this budget. The 2002 funds directly supported and enhanced the quality of over 2,500 licensed childcare spaces. Through the funding of City-wide Childcare Support Services, parents, caregivers, childcare boards and community groups were able to access essential information about childcare, receive consultative and referral services and participate in activities, events and workshops which promoted and strengthened quality childcare throughout the City. City funding was key to accessing provincial dollars for continued funding of the childcare support services provided by Westcoast Childcare Resources Centre.
The Manager of Budgets has advised that the 2003 grants budget may be adjusted to include a 1.75% increase for inflation; therefore, the proposed 2003 Childcare Grants budget is $706,800.
Childcare has undergone a number of significant changes over the past year as a result of numerous provincial policy changes. Changes to subsidy eligibility and amounts, reduction in out-of-school care funding, consolidation of childcare grants into one operating grant based on enrollments as of April 1, 2003, and increases in the cost of criminal reference checks, have placed particular stress on those programs serving children of low and moderate income families. Moreover, many children "at risk", who have benefited from preschool experiences, are no longer able to attend preschool due to changes in subsidy policy.
Preliminary data shows that of the 2,100 licensed childcare spaces surveyed, there has been a 14% decrease overall in enrollment and a 35% decrease in the number of children receiving subsidy between April and December, 2002. The Social Planning Department is undertaking an Impacts Study and Financial Analysis of proposed changes on a sample of childcare programs. This review will be complete and results reported to Council in late Spring.
In the interim, and during this period of transition, we know that a number of childcare programs and preschool programs, serving children in the inner city, are experiencing significant financial challenges. In particular, preschool programs have reported an 88% decrease in children on subsidy accessing their programs and an overall decrease in enrollment of 37%. Given that the new operating grants are based on enrollment, programs will be further penalized in achieving their full grant potential. To ensure the preservation of these childcare spaces, it is proposed that a redistribution of funds between grants be considered. Further, Inner-city Grant criteria will give priority to keeping parent fees below city averages and food programs.
For this year only, and until the full financial review is complete, the Child Development Coordinator is recommending that the Research, Policy Development and Innovation Fund, Program Development and Program Stabilization allocations be rolled into the Inner-city Sustaining Grants. It is proposed that the 2003 Childcare Grants budget be allocated as follows amongst the seven existing categories:
Proposed 2003 Guidelines
City-wide Childcare Support/Admin. of City-Owned
The Childcare Grants Program categories, each with its distinct priorities, eligibility criteria and granting process, are as follows:
1. Program Enhancement
Under this category, grants are provided in order to achieve greater equity in the delivery and quality of childcare services in the City. Last year, funds of $123,321 were targeted at initiatives in high need group daycare, preschools and school-aged programs for food supplement programs, child/staff ratios, extended hours of operation, quality improvement, and strengthened, coordinated administration. For the year 2003, it is recommended that the overall funding be set at $125,480. Recommendations will be brought to Council in June, 2003.
2. Inner-city Childcare Sustaining Grants
This program, established in 1992 as Phase 1 of a Civic Childcare Direct Operating Grant program, is targeted at non-profit organizations providing licensed childcare services to low income, high need families in inner-city neighbourhoods and charging fees to parents that are at or below the City-wide average. In 2002, grants of up to $226,919 were allocated to 25 centres for basic operating costs, such as staffing and food costs. It is anticipated that the 25 inner-city centres identified in 2002 will re-apply and one or two more programs may be added. For the year 2003, it is recommended the overall funding be set at $255,820. Recommendations will be brought forward to Council in June, 2003.
3. Program Stabilization
This grant program has, in the past, been very effective in preventing the closure of parent-run, non-profit childcare centres, which experience financial difficulties. Reports to Council for this category are brought forward as required and will need to be considered as part of a contingency allocation, if required.
4. Program Development
This grant was established to provide some assistance to non-profit societies with the non-capital costs associated with developing new childcare services, particularly in high need areas of the city. Given provincial changes to operating funds, it is recommended that the City reallocate the $5,000 as part of the Inner-city Grant.
5. Research, Policy Development and Innovations Fund
The purpose of this grant is to encourage and support new childcare research policy or support service initiatives. In 2002, a grant totalling $14,500 was allocated to Kiwassa Neighbourhood House for the Continuous Quality Improvement Pilot Program. It is recommended for this year is that these funds be reallocated to Inner-city Grants.
6. City-wide Childcare Support Services
This grant category fund was created to support the basic infrastructure that is integral to developing a viable, effective, high quality childcare system in the City. Services receiving funding under this category must agree to work closely with City staff to enhance childcare in Vancouver and further the civic childcare objectives. It is also assumed that they will seek additional funding from senior levels of government and other funders. Westcoast Child Care delivers infrastructure supports and is undergoingorganizational change. Recommendations for this category will be brought forward to Council in April/May, 2003.
7. Grant for Administration of City-owned Facilities
This grant category was established to support the administrative costs of new City-owned childcare facilities negotiated as conditions of rezoning, bonusing and development permit approvals.
In December, 1994, Council approved start-up funding for the newly created Vancouver Society of Children's Centres (VSOCC). VSOCC is now operating Library Square Children's Centre, Dorothy Lam Children's Centre and Quayside Children's Centre. VSOCC is in the planning stages for operation of the new childcare centre in the Shaw Tower and Western Neighbourhood.
It is recommended that $325,500 be allocated to the City-wide Child Care Support Services and the Administration of City-owned Facilities grant categories. Details of Westcoast's and VSOCC's workplans and budgets will be reported to Council in April/May, 2003.
Community Services and Childcare Grants continue to provide a critical support to the social service community in Vancouver, and also continue to be a highly effective tool for the City in shaping the responses to social issues . By maintaining a constant overall budget (including an inflation adjustment) we can continue to provide on-going funding to community organizations and meet the priorities outlined above.
* * * * *