What time do you start work? 9am? 8am? 7am? And what time does your child’s school start at? Many Canadian schools start between 8:30am and 9:30am. This makes dropping off in the morning a challenge for many families. Adding to this struggle, the end of the school day can be as early as 2:50pm. This doesn’t fit into most parents work schedules since many work days end between 4:30-6:00pm. Many families need two working parents to achieve a certain lifestyle. The conflict in scheduling makes it difficult to find suitable school-aged child care. Where can one find suitable school-aged child care and what are the options in the Canadian childcare market? Today we look at four different child care options for working Canadian parents that have school aged children.
Before and after school programs
Cost: $24.00-$28.50/day/child for before and after school care
Some Canadian schools offer a before and after school program through a separate organization, such as the YMCA Before and After School Care Program . This program is usually licensed through the Ministry of Education. They generally start between 7-7:30am until morning bell and then after school bell until 6pm. This is an option for parents who need child care during those times and that live near the school for minimal commute time. Having care available at the school is good for parents because they already trust the institution. The downside is that it makes for a long day for a school-aged child that arrives to school at 7am and doesn’t leave until their parent/guardian is done work, sometimes at 6pm. In addition, there is limited availability and the child care provider can’t spend as much quality time with each child since there can be as many as 15 children to 1 supervisor.
Whether a neighbour’s 14-year-old child or a College/University student, a babysitter who is available for either before or after school care is another option for parents. This person is usually there in the morning to pick up a child from home. Then they take them to school or to pick up the child from school and take them home. Parents may find it difficult to have the same babysitter everyday, especially if they are students, as schedules change daily. Babysitters can also be unreliable since they aren’t on contract and have no major consequences if they do not show up for work.
Cost: Minimum wage, less room and board
This non-traditional option is one that many families would greatly benefit from. Au Pairs live with a family to provide flexible and reliable care. They can be there before school to drop children off and again in the evening to pick them up. While everyone is at work or school, they can even do some light housekeeping . They also provide undivided attention to children as they are solely responsible for the children in their host family. Although this may seem like the more expensive option, Au Pairs are paid on an hourly basis not per child. Having an Au Pair is comparable to a before and after school program for a family with two or more children. Au Pair’s also provide a unique cultural experience that is extremely valuable to children.
Take time off work
Although this is not an option for many families, it may be for those who are able to compromise their work life. This alternative allows for one parent to be there at bell to pick up their child to take them home. Unfortunately, this option only works in dual parent households and usually if there is one parent who can sustain the family on their income. This option allows for more time at home with children to care for them, prepare meals and do some housekeeping.
Despite the fact that there are options available, many families still struggle finding child care that suits their needs. It is not an easy decision for parents to choose where their precious little ones will be while they are at work. But one thing all parents want is safety and security for their children. Since most families need both parents to work in order to maintain a certain lifestyle, there is still a demand for an alternative child care solution that can provide flexible and dependable child care (and maybe even one with a foreign accent!)