Other Child Care Issues Impacting Wait Lists
Leap Frogging And The Need For Transparency
With such extreme shortages of Out of School Child Care spaces, providers are under pressure to address particular circumstances. At times some providers are compelled to move a child to the top by “leap frogging” past the other children. I am personally not against the use of “leap frogging”, so long as it is used to unite siblings in a program. Other parents may not agree.
At the same time parents want to know where their child is on the list and how progress towards the top is coming along. Too many times parents are waiting years and years and then “out of the blue” receiving a phone call informing them that a space has come available and that they need to decide then if they are going to take it or be passed over. A decision such as that takes thought and planning and represents a huge change to a family’s routine.
As a remedy, I think wait lists should be easily accessible and transparent (while protecting the identity of those on the list). A simple identifier such as the following is all that needs to appear on the list:
2013jan12a – this child is at the top of the list and was added January 12th, 2013
2013jun04a – this child is 2nd on the list and was added June 4th, 2013
2013jun04b – this child is 3rd on the list and was the 2nd child added on June 4th, 2013
2014feb27a – this is the 4th child on the list, and so on.
A list such as this on the provider’s website would give parents a sense of how quickly their child is moving up the list and whether they should begin preparing for the big change that is to come. It would only need to be updated monthly since these lists don’t change that frequently.
Some care providers may not wish to provide access to their wait lists for privacy or proprietary reasons. The privacy issue was addressed above. I could accept the proprietary argument if these were private organizations not accepting public funding, but they are not. The vast majority are non profit organizations (receiving income tax exemption status) who are receiving public funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. If the public is providing funding, then the public should have an expectation of some transparency.
In the end, it is important to remember that Leap Frogging would not even be an issue if there was an adequate supply of Out of School Care spaces in the first place.
Kids Staying In Child Care Longer
A trend in recent years is for kids to stay in their Out of School Child Care program longer than they have in the past. It used to be most kids would drop out of OSC by the age of 9 or 10. But now many parents are keeping their child in care right to the end (grade 7).
It is difficult to say why this is happening:
- maybe parents fear being judged for taking their kid out of OSC too early
- maybe parents feel they had to wait so long to get a spot, that they are reluctant to give it up now that they have it
- maybe their child enjoys the social aspect of the care
Regardless of the reason, it is a parent’s choice to make and they should not be judged one way or the other. It’s just worth noting that this trend is having an impact on waiting lists.
Some school districts are keen to bring multi-use buildings to schools. As the name suggests, these buildings would have multiple uses such as day cares (ages 0-5), arts programs, music programs, and out of school care (grades k-7). These would be permanent structures on existing school grounds. A huge amount of funding is required for this initiative along with all the consultation, planning and construction that goes along with that. It is safe to say your child will age out of the OSC program long before this becomes reality.
In the meantime, it is difficult to accept that a school board who is pursuing funding for multi-use structures would have a lot of interest in solving current OSC shortages when, in their mind, more funding and a new structure is the answer.