The other day someone asked me, “So have you thought about child care for your baby yet?” The first thought that crossed my mind was, “Why would I be thinking about child care for a baby that isn’t even born yet?” But after talking with other parents with young children I realized that it wasn’t such a silly question at all! Many parents are actually putting their unborn children on child care waitlists. But “why” you ask? Well the more I looked into it, I found that only 1 in 5 Edmonton families have access to accredited child care and some centres have 2-year waiting lists!! That would mean I would have to register my child now, in order to get my child in once I return to work after maternity leave. Crazy!!
Since this is my first child and I am not originally from Edmonton I had no idea which child care centres are “good”. I hoped I would be able to find something close to home and work. I started by doing some research and I found a few locations near my place, however it was difficult to know what the quality of these centres was. Most of them aren’t accredited and I discovered that they aren’t required to be. You might be wondering, “Why would I want to use accredited child care?” Accredited child care centres “provide a level of excellence in child care that exceeds provincial licensing requirements.” They are also regularly monitored to make sure they are meeting these high standards. As a parent-to-be I want to make sure that my child is getting the best care while I am at work, so I would love to be able to leave my child at an accredited centre. However, I also discovered that the average monthly cost of full-time accredited child care in Edmonton is a whopping $671. Ouch! Even in a family with a double income it would be hard to make ends meet, if we had to pay that much for child care; especially with all the additional costs of having a new baby. At that point I started to get a little stressed, so I started to look at what subsidies are available to parents. I found that the families with children under the age of 6 years are eligible for a $100 per month to help cover the cost of child care; however $571 a month isn’t much more affordable.
After talking to more new parents and parents to-be I found that most of us are feeling some anxiety when it comes to finding child care. And with the most recent Canadian statistics showing that 69% of mother’s with a child 0-2 years and 77% of mother’s with children 3-5 work outside the home I think I can safely say that most families with young children are in a similar predicament.
I have now started looking for other alternatives for child care that are more affordable but I am definitely frustrated that a person’s income determines the quality of care their child receives. Sigh.