Finding the right childcare can be a difficult transition. You want a provider who is caring and attentive and responsible. You want something that fits your life in terms of hours, location and cost. And you don’t want to spend years on a waitlist. Here we look at the most common childcare options available.
We’re here to help. We may not have all the answers, but we can definitely help you get started.
Age ranges for Childcare
When it comes to choosing childcare, age matters. Some providers cater to infants, others will only take toddlers and still, others work with preschoolers. You will need to make sure that the provider you are looking at provides care in the age range you need.
The ranges are:
- Babies – 0 to 18 months
- Toddlers – 18 months to 3 years
- Preschoolers – 2.5 to 5 years
- School age – 5 to 12 years
Types of Childcare
Unlicensed Family Daycare
This covers anyone who isn’t licensed by the province you are in. This can range from babysitters or family members to mamas who provide care to other people’s little ones. An unlicensed childcare provider can only provide care for two children – or a group of siblings – plus their own children.
In fact, it may even be free if you’re able to find a family member. However no licensing means no one else is checking in on the provider. So this is up to you to choose and trust who is taking care of your children.
Licensed Family Daycare
Licensed family childcare is provided in a family home. There can be up to seven children, including the provider’s own children, and there are rules around the children’s ages. There are also health and safety regulations that a provider must follow in order to maintain their license. Licensed family care is typically a little pricier, but the license demonstrates that the provider is creating an appropriate environment.
Group childcare is what we think of when we think of daycare centres. They are often located in a school, preschool, church or commercial building. There are usually multiple staff who all have some type of certificate or diploma in early childhood education. The hours are fairly generous, but there is little or no flexibility if you don’t work traditional hours. Given the costs associated with operating a centre, it is no surprise that this is one of the most expensive options. Also, waitlists can be long.
Nannies and au pairs are similar, but there are a couple of key differences. Au pairs are childcare providers from a foreign country who are in Canada for a limited time – usually around a year. Au pairs typically live with the family while they are here and room and board are deducted from their fees, which means you will be paying less than the number quoted below after deductions. Nannies, on the other hand, may or may not live with a family and may provide only part-time care. In both cases, you tend to pay the same amount regardless of the number of children in your family, and your costs reflect a number of hours you use rather than paying a per-day or per-month rate.
Childcare costs vary across regions. Your options and costs will vary depending on what part of the country you live in. Nannies and au pairs are paid about the same wherever you may live. The same thing, however, cannot be said for family and group care. Furthermore, costs for daycare may vary when you go from the suburban areas to the main cities.
For example, full-time daycare for 1 child in Metro Vancouver can average $1300 a month and up, compared to an average of $900 and up in the Fraser Valley regions.
You can ask for pricing and quotes from the types of childcare services you decide on from a few places, to average out what the costs will look for you on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, costs of childcare are, and may always be, on the high side, and it’s due to the growing demand and growing waitlists.
*Images courtesy of Shutterstock