5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Childcare Search
May 11, 2015
As a new parent, the thought of leaving your precious child with another, while you head off to work, is hard enough. Entering into the realm of searching for childcare is daunting, overwhelming, emotional and scary!! Feeling unsure of where to even begin, or what information you need to know, makes the process that much more emotional. Being armed with information can help reduce a great deal of the fear and uncertainty of this new stage in your life.
1. What is the difference between registered and unregistered dayhomes?
There are both accredited (or registered) and private (or unregistered) dayhomes in Alberta. Accredited dayhomes work under the umbrella of an agency. These agencies (and there are MANY) are licensed by the Alberta Government, Human Services Ministry, to oversee and monitor the individual dayhomes in their agency. Accredited dayhome providers can also work towards their different Early Childhood Education Levels under the guidance of the agency. Accredited dayhomes must follow the ratios of child to caregiver (2 children under the age of 2, 3 under age 3, 4 under 4, etc), and may have no more than 6 children in their care at any one time, including their own children. They also must abide by the regulations and rules set out by the Human Services ministry – following protocol for safety, supervision, discipline, etc. You can find more information about these regulations by reading the Family Dayhome Standards Manual for Alberta. Accredited dayhomes can also provide subsidized care for families who quality to receive subsidy funding for childcare.
Private dayhomes are unlicensed or unregistered dayhomes. Private dayhomes run their own program and they do not have to follow the ratios of child to caregiver, such as 2 under 2, etc. This gives them a bit more flexibility in the ages of children they may take in. However, they must follow the rule of a maximum of 6 children in their care at any given time, NOT including their own. Many private providers were accredited through an agency at one time, but for a variety of reasons, decided to run more autonomously. Private dayhomes are often able to accommodate for a greater variety of needs, as they are not monitored by an agency. Private dayhomes have a greater flexibility and ability to offer care that helps shift workers, overnight care, variable care, etc. They also can set their own standards for things such as safety and discipline. Private dayhomes are NOT able to provide subsidy for families who qualify.
2. Are dayhomes regulated by the state, if at all?
Only accredited dayhomes are monitored by the province via the agency. The minimum number of visits is once every 2 months. Private dayhomes are not monitored at all, unless there is a major issue, in which case the city has the ability to investigate and deal with it appropriately.
3. What should I expect to pay for full time dayhome based childcare?
The average cost of full time care in a dayhome is about $800-$900/month/child. If you have siblings, some will offer a sibling discount. With an agency, parents pay a monthly fee to the agency (usually about $100), and then the remainder goes to the dayhome provider themselves. That being said, i have seen full time care offered for as little as $400, and as much as $1400.
4. What makes a good dayhome GOOD?
A good dayhome should give you a confident and happy feeling when you leave your child(ren) there. Their space should be very clearly child-friendly, with a variety of toys, crafts,
You should expect clear, concise and timely communication at all times. Some providers have a communication notebook that they write information about the child’s day in for parents to read over. Sometimes this book can go back and forth from home to dayhome, with both parties writing down important information for each other. This is especially helpful for babies and toddlers who aren’t yet able to communicate themselves.
You should see evidence of learning and positive experiences throughout each day. Crafts, art, visits to the park, etc. Children learn through play at this age (0-5), which means the plans for the day do not need to necessarily be STRUCTURED, but their should be a routine to the day, and a variety of toys and materials that spark play and curiosity is what you want to see.
There should be a clear and concise meal plan or nutrition guideline that the dayhome provider follows. Accredited dayhomes are required to follow the Canada Food Guide for their feeding.
More than anything, your children should be happy there. This does not necessarily mean they WON’T cry at drop off, but you can tell they enjoy being there and enjoy being with the provider. I knew my own children LOVED their dayhome when they cried when I picked them UP, because they didn’t want to leave!!
Go with your gut. If, in the bottom of your gut you feel that this is the right place to leave your child, it likely is. BUT, on the other hand, if that gut is telling you no, listen to it!
5. What sort of paperwork or qualifications should dayhomes and/or agencies provide?
From an agency, you should get: A parent handbook, a contract, consent to administer medication, consent to transport children, emergency contact forms, and any other forms the agency requires. All paperwork and payment are handled by the agency, not the dayhome provider.
From a private dayhome, you SHOULD get the same kind of paperwork bundle. Each provider does things slightly differently, but you need to have a contract in place at a minimum, so that if any issues arise, you know the terms for ending the relationship. You also need to ensure that BOTH parties (yourself and the provider) have a copy of the contract, otherwise it is not enforceable. If the provider you are dealing with does NOT have this kind of paperwork, you are completely within your rights to provide a contract yourself. If this arrises, you can access a very comprehensive contract here.
As for qualifications, no matter what, providers should have: A recent/current criminal record check, a Vulnerable Person’s Check, and at a minimum, Basic First Aid, preferably Infant First Aid as well. Many will also have experience in Early Childhood Education. Be sure to ask for what experience they have working with young children.
SO, how the heck do I FIND good childcare? I don’t even know where to START!
Finding childcare can be totally overwhelming and emotional. We have been there and had those sleepless nights. Whether you are just starting to look, or are unhappy with your current childcare arrangement, the process is SO hard. We provide a service to help you streamline your search and do the leg work for you.
If you are totally overwhelmed by the childcare search, and would like some help, simply Book a Call or fill out the attached form, and chat with us about how to get started.