OSC Wait Time for Schools In Your Community

Below is an interactive visualization that shows clearly where the Out of School Care shortages are.  The data came from care providers directly and the Ministry of Children and Family Development via a hard fought freedom of information request.  I apologize, but I only have data for Vancouver.¹  To get the data for the entire province would have been a huge task and somewhat pointless since the MCFD already has this data.

Use the scroll bar on the far right to position the map on your screen.  Use your mouse scroll wheel on the map to zoom in/out.  Roll your cursor over any of the circles to get more detailed information about that school.

The size of the circle indicates how many onsite Before and After School Care spaces the school is licensed for.  The OSC Providers page shows all providers (onsite and offsite) who serve that school.

The colour of the circle indicates how long your child will have to wait to get one of those licensed spaces.  Normally a green circle will indicate that your child will have to wait less than four months, but currently the green circles indicate the “# of Licensed Spaces” figure has not been provided.  The outstanding FOI request should resolve this.

You can see there are many schools where the kids are going to age out of the program long before they ever receive care.  Any wait longer than 60 months (5 years) your family has likely already accepted your child will not get into the program.

Some in the industry may take issue with the estimated wait time figures, but I’m comfortable with my calculation (see below).  If they dispute it, just ask them to show you their wait list and how long each kid has been on it (they won’t do it).  They’ll say it is a privacy issue, but it isn’t.  You don’t need to see names, you just want to see a list of dates for each child placed on the list (they still won’t do it).  A list of dates would give you a good sense of how long your child will be waiting.  Regardless, my calculation is very fair and has been proven accurate with parents who have already received a care spot.

Note: The following visualization is quite large and best viewed on a tablet or desktop computer.  If it is not loading or you are using a mobile device, click on this, Number of Licensed OSC Spaces vs Wait Times.

Wait Time Calculation Methods:

There are a number of different ways you could go about determining how long your child will be on a particular wait list.

  1. The Actual Wait List – You could simply ask to see the dates of the most recent kids accepted to the program (date child added to waiting list and the date accepted to program).  Determine how many months each child had to wait for a spot and take the average.
  2. Little’s Law (Queue Theory) – You would need to know on average how many kids each year receive a spot.  For example, if on average 10 kids a year receive a spot and there are 130 kids on the waiting list, then you are likely going to be waiting 13 years before your child receives a spot (130 waiting / 10 accepted per year).
  3. My Wait Time Calculation – The method I used to determine the wait times is similar to Little’s Law.  We don’t know how many kids per year are accepted to a program, but we do know that there are 8 grades (K-7).  If we assume the makeup of the kids in the program and on the waiting list is equally distributed among the 8 grades, then you can assume approximately the same number will be joining the program as leaving the program each year.  You can also assume a consistent number of kids will drop off the waiting list each year as they age out waiting for a spot.

So the formula would be:

# on waiting list / ( new available spots each year + # who drop off waiting list each year) * 12 months

# on waiting list / ((# licensed spaces / 8 grades) + (# on waiting list / 8 grades)) * 12 months

For example if you have 60 licensed spaces and 130 kids on the waiting list:

130 / ((60 / 8) + (130 / 8)) * 12 = 5.5 years or 65.7 months your child will have to wait to get a spot in the OSC program

There are many other factors that can impact wait times like leap frogging, new licensed spaces being added/removed, kids staying longer in the program . . .

But the main point is, parents just need a general idea how long their child is going to be on a particular waiting list.  It really does not make much difference if it is 50 months or 80 months (you child will likely age out), but it does make a difference if it is 2 months or 2 years.  They need to know so they can make the life choice that is best for their family.

None of this discussion around wait lists would matter if there were simply enough OSC spaces in the first place.  Maybe one day soon this whole wait list discussion will all be irrelevant.

1. BC Child Care Map

You could try using the BC Child Care Map, but it won’t give you wait list figures or estimated wait times.  You might get lucky though and find a care provider that has availability.

This map really needs to show wait list figures, after all the ministry already has these figures and parents need to know what they are up against.

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