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How to find the BEST childcare option for you - Part I

Some countries offer a real early childhood support system. In Canada, we are unfortunately stuck for over a decade now with a situation where, everywhere except Quebec, there is only 1 daycare spot for every 5 children who need one!

When I moved to work in BC, my biggest struggle was what to do with my toddler and for after school care for my older school aged child. I talked to other parents and discovered that they were as stuck as I was – we all registered on many waiting lists (and some centers dared charge us $10-15 to put us on a wait list, as if the frustration was not enough!) and heard nothing. We got promising listings of home-based daycares through the government sponsored BC Child Care Resource & Referral Programs, but after calling and calling, still found no solutions.

Sadly, years later, the situation has not really changed. Statistics Canada reports that 6 out of every 10 mothers reported that the transition between leave and work was stressful and nearly half of parents cited balancing job and family responsibilities as the main source of this stress.

An awesome childcare activists coalition is currently gathering support (and would appreciate yours!) to get BC politicians to take action and ideally create the $10/day daycare which makes human and economic sense.

In the meantime, especially if this is your first time looking around, here is the lay of the land:

-          Each family is unique and what is a good solution to them is different – from the basic financial realities (the usual range for daycare centers is $50-80/day, so at two or more kids, a nanny that comes to your home makes more sense) to your needs in terms of hours (daycare centers often don’t fit a flexible or shift type of schedule).

-          In any case, look at the care provider and ask yourself first: “Is this a person I can trust?”. If the answer is yes, then look for experience and fit: “Has this person taken care of kids before? Does this person share my interests and values?” as they will be spending time with your child at a memorable age and you want your life approach to be reflected in the child’s experience. And at last, but very much not least, and especially so if they will be working in your home, the KEY question is “Do I enjoy spending time with this person?”. Because most of the time,if you enjoy spending time with them, so will your child. Yes, it does all come down to this personal connection, one can call chemistry.

Next week, I will give you a quick tour of ALL the options you have to find the care solution most suitable to you and the benefits and challenges of each option.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MOM, Co-founder and CEO myBestHelper, MD, Past School Board Chair

Posted: January 18, 2013