So you’ve delivered a baby and survived severe sleep deprivation, but are you ready to leave your little one with someone else? For the majority of families, paternity leave ends around the time your little one turns one, which means that someone else will have to take care of your baby for you. This is one of the most important decisions a family will make for their baby. With a bit of preparation and planning, selecting the perfect daycare will not be as stressful as it can sound!
When should you start looking for childcare options?
In Toronto, the earlier you start looking for daycare, the higher the chances you will get the centre of your choice. Most daycares have wait lists that are a year in length, so don’t feel silly if you start your search when you are still pregnant with the baby! A great resource to find licensed child care is through the City of Toronto Child Care Locator.
You can easily search by neighbourhood and by age range (infant, toddler, preschool, kindergarten and school age) to find all the centres in your area of choice. You will find if a fee subsidy is available for a centre, quality ratings for most centres, contact information, languages spoken by staff and dietary services to name a few.
Arranging a daycare tour
Once you make a list of the centres that are of interest, booking a site tour is a must. Tours take less than an hour and are a great opportunity to ask all your questions and to see the teachers/staff interacting with the children. Some factors to consider are where the snacks and meals are sourced (cooked in house or catered in), daily schedule including nap/play/eat times, educational training of the staff (Early Childhood Educator, Montessori certified, etc.), extracurricular activities (some centres have weekly physical education and music classes included in the fees) amongst other important questions. Once you have narrowed down your list to a few top choices it would be recommended to get on their wait list. Some centres offer part-time options, but generally for infant age (12-18 months), most provide full time registration only.
What if I’m not interested in a daycare centre setting?
There are plenty of other options available to parents such as home daycares, hiring a nanny – or if you are so lucky – have grandparents watch your child! The home daycare option is beneficial to those families who want a smaller group setting (usually 5 kids or less in a home) and you may be able to find one that is right in your neighbourhood. Here’s a list of licensed home child care agencies in Toronto.
What if my local Toronto daycare centres are full?
If you aren’t able to get into your desired centre of choice near your home, another option may be to find a centre closer to your work. There are some benefits such as spending a few more minutes or hours (depending on your commute!) with your precious one!
Now that you’ve got the daycare figured out you will soon have to start looking into the kindergarten school of your choice. Many schools have wait lists for the before and after school program!! Have fun with the search and good luck!
– Written by 2x Mommy Connections Alumni Yvonne Ng
Yvonne Ng is a chemical engineer and works in the energy sector selling the fuel that your car needs to keep your family going. She is still trying to master how to juggle between a demanding career, being a loving role model to her 4 children (if you include her husband and their wheaten terrier) and indulging in her other passions like travelling and cooking. Yvonne currently resides in Etobicoke, but grew up in Ajax and spent a chunk of her golden years in Hamilton and downtown Toronto for school and work.