Finding the right child care arrangement can be overwhelming. Here's help sorting through your options
Your child arrives at the centre to a chorus of hellos from her pals, puts her backpack in her cubby and embarks on a day of games, stories, crafts and learning.
All daycare centres in Canada are licensed by the provincial government for health, care and safety standards, and can be run as non-profit or for-profit organizations. Expect structured days, with regulated outdoor play, stimulating, age-appropriate activities and healthy meals and snacks.
• In most provinces and territories, the centre’s director and a percentage of the staff must be trained in early childhood education.
• Centres are required to follow Canada’s Food Guide.
• Children are often divided into rooms by age range (infant, toddler, preschooler), so activities are geared to your child’s stage of development.
• The centre setting prepares kids for the classroom, getting them comfortable with a structured program and behaviour expectations.
• Caregivers have a daily program to follow and clear procedures for handling things like discipline and potty training.
• In some centres, parents can sit on the board of directors and have a say in policy planning.
• If you have a concern about a policy or staff member, you have options. First, speak with the centre’s director. If you need to escalate the issue, contact the ministry in charge of child care in your province and ask for an investigation.
• Wait lists can be months (many months) long. It’s often recommended to get on a list during your pregnancy.
• Kids may get sick more often with so many children and the inevitable germs coming together each day.
• Centres are known for their rigid policies (some charge a dollar per minute for late pickups) and firm stay-home rules when kids are sick.
• Daycare centres can be pricey, particularly if they are for-profit.
• If staff turnover is high, kids may have difficulty forming strong connections with their caregivers.
• The structured, large-group setting might be overwhelming or intimidating for some kids.
Cost Approximately $25 to $45 per day for an infant, $20 to $38 for a toddler, and $18 to $30 for a preschooler, supplying diapers and wipes yourself. Keep in mind that this fee breakdown is only a range. In major cities, it is not unheard of to pay $75 a day or (gulp) more. Subsidies are available for a certain number of spots, so be sure to investigate that option.