If you are a parent or guardian of a young child and you:
- have to go to school, work, appointments, etc.
- need to run errands
- would like to have a break, or
- need extra help...
...it is important to find someone trustworthy to care for your child. You want to find a place where children learn and grow in a safe and happy environment, or a person who will come to your home and take good care of the child.
Here are some options for child care:
- register your child at a licensed child care centre (commonly called daycare)
- hire a child caregiver to come into your home (commonly called a babysitter) or to live in your home (commonly called a nanny)
- take your child to a child caregiver’s house
- find a willing relative or friend
How to Find the Right Child Care
You need to choose child care based on both your needs and the needs of your child. Here are some things to consider when looking for child care:
- Think about the type of care you and your child need -- How many hours per day and how many days per week do you need child care? Do you need to find child care close to your home, school, or work? Does your child have any special needs?
- Find at least three places or people to check-out or interview -- As a parent or guardian, it is up to you to research, choose and monitor child care for your child. You can find potential child caregivers in newspaper or online ads, on bulletins boards, or in Yellow Pages [See Related Resources]. You can also ask friends, neighbours, relatives or coworkers if they have somebody to recommend.
- Contact child care facilities or private caregivers -- Have a list of questions ready. Based on the answers you get, you can set up an appointment to find out more.
- Visit the child care facility or caregiver, or have the caregiver visit you -- Find out as much as you can about what happens at the child care facility or with the caregiver on a day-to-day basis. It is a good idea to make notes. After you have finished your visits, you can look over your notes and make your final decision.
- Arrange the service -- Make the contact with the caregiver or the facility you chose and arrange the day care service.
- Follow up with the child care facility or the caregiver -- If you want the child care facility or the caregiver to make changes to the care that they are providing to your child, make an appointment to talk with them. If they are not able or willing to make the adjustments, find another caregiver. If they are taking good care of your child, tell them what you like about the job they are doing.
Introducing Your Child to Child Care
It can take time for your child to get used to the new person or place. The adjustment time will depend on your child's age, personality, and developmental stage. If the caregiver comes to your home, it may be somewhat easier -- you can invite the caregiver to spend some time with the family before leaving the child alone with him or her.
If the service you choose is at a caregiver's home or child care facility, here are some things you can do to help your child adjust to the new environment:
Before starting child care:
- Tell your child about the place and the people there. Talk about all the fun he or she will have.
- Visit the place with your child. Let your child meet the caregivers and the other children there.
On the first day of child care:
- Go with your child on the first day of care. If you cannot go, arrange for another familiar adult to accompany your child.
- Let your child bring his or her favourite toy or a blanket. Having something familiar is a comfort when everything else is new and strange.
- Say good-bye when you are ready to leave, even if your child is crying. Crying is normal, and in most cases will stop shortly after you leave. Tell your child you will be back, so he or she feels certain that you will return. If you sneak out without saying anything, your child may get upset.
- Once you have said good-bye, keep going. If you hesitate, you may confuse your child.
- Make sure you pick up your child at the time you said you would.
- Greet your child warmly. Do not rush to leave, he or she may want to show you around and tell you what happened through the day.
If possible, it can also be helpful if you begin child care gradually. For example, on the first day, take your child to the daycare for an hour or so and then leave together. Over the next few days, stay for several hours. As your child becomes more comfortable, gradually increase the time away until your child is spending the full day in child care without you.
Financial Help for Child Care
There is financial help for parents or guardians with low household incomes to cover the costs of licensed child care programs. This help is called the Child Care Subsidy Program. Eligible parents or guardians can receive this subsidy if they:
- are working or are enrolled in training programs, including an English as an Additional Language program
- have a child at risk or with special needs, or
- have emergency medical needs
You can contact Childcare Subsidy Program by phone. [See Related Resources]