Finding a daycare for our son was challenging . . .
. . . then he started school . . .
that’s when child care became impossible.
Jacob's Story - A Family's Daycare Journey
Our son Jacob started school in September 2017.
He’s a regular kid with two working parents living in a small East Vancouver condominium. We each took advantage of the maternal/paternal leave when Jacob was born.
When it came time to find daycare we had some difficulty but soon managed to find great care in a licensed home nearby.
A few years later when Jacob was three the daycare provider suggested it was time to find a care setting where he could be around kids his age (she specialized in babies and toddlers, and Jacob wanted kids his age to play with). We were once again on the hunt for a new care facility. We thought we were going to have problems, but in less than a week we managed to find a very nice daycare just 5 minutes from our home. There were lots of kids for Jacob to play with (22) and we could drop him off any time after 7:30am and pickup any time before 5:30pm. It worked.
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Eventually it came time for Jacob to start school. We knew he would need before and after school care, but we didn’t appreciate at the time what that meant. It turns out that there are a very limited number of care providers to choose from. Very few daycare’s can afford the expense of staff, vans and insurance to deliver children twice a day to schools in the area. The logistics are just too much for most providers.
In April 2017 we placed Jacob on the waiting lists of the only three child care providers that offer before/after school care to his school (care providers refer to this type of care as Out of School Care or OSC). Jacob was 8th on the list at Frog Hollow, 28th on the list at Cityreach, and 120th on the list at Cedar Cottage.
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September came and Jacob was nowhere near getting into one of these programs. One of us had to leave our job. I made arrangements with my employer to work from home (at far reduced hours) and took the opportunity to take some online courses.
Today, Jacob is still nowhere near getting into any of these OSC programs and the reduced family income is really hurting.
The current system is not working for too many parents.
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In January I began taking a closer look at out of school care in BC and specifically in Vancouver.
This website brings together much of what I have discovered through emails, searches, interviews and freedom of information requests.
I urge every parent who is facing the need for out of school care to take the time to browse this site. You will learn a lot and for those parents in Vancouver you will find the Availability and Care Provider pages a great resource (and a real eye opener).
I can say with confidence that the answer to OSC shortages is not more money (that is the frustrating thing about it). There are only three things that decision makers need to do to eliminate the Out of School Care shortage parents are facing.
First, school boards need to follow Section 85.1 of the BC School Act and make underutilized space available to licensed care providers. Many school amenities are sitting empty immediately before school and after school, especially cafeteria and lunch rooms where on site care providers tend to operate.
Second, the ministry of Health and the ministry of Children and Family Development needs to change the current Child Care Licensing Regulations so that kids attending their schools are treated as students and not toddlers. Current regulations are imposing physical space and amenity restrictions that severely limit the number of care spaces a school can be licensed for.
Alternatively, the provincial government should move Out of School Care to the Ministry of Education. After all the ministry managed to look after these kids from 9-3pm.
I invite you to browse through the site and see if you come to the same conclusions. Then, take the next step and let the decision makers know this issue is important to you.
Cliff & Simone