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Increased wait time for child care services in Waterloo Region

Since the childcare announcement was made back in March, wait lists have increased in the region for families wanting childcare services
child care
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Wait times to enrol children into the region's childcare centres has increased quite a bit since the federal and provincial governments announced childcare fees would be reduced by half by the end of the year to bring $10/day child care by 2025. 

The operation director with Rising Oaks Learning Centre said that one of their locations has received 150 new applications on the central registry, called One List, since the announcement was made.

"On average, we might have received five to seven One List applications a week per location. Now some of our locations are seeing five to seven applications a day. Each location has received 50 to 75 new applications since the announcement," said Kristine Parsons.

She noted it's never too early to get on the waiting list.  

"Things change, but there is no financial commitment to be on the waiting list. We know that it is hard for families to predict where they will be in 12 to 18 months when requiring the spot," she said. "Families sometimes go on a waiting list, then they move out of the neighbourhood. If it is about securing a childcare space, even if you moved out of the community, you may have to drive back into the neighbourhood for your childcare space."

Families check back regularly to see where they are on the waiting lists. Right now, the majority of families are looking for immediate space. But Parsons said they are fully booked and are looking at enrolment between July and September.

The childcare centre is opening a new location at Oak Creek Public school in Kitchener. Parsons noted there are 700 families on the waiting list for that location. Hence, it is never too early to get on the waiting list. 

The average of $10-dollar day child care fee announcement that child care centres have until September to apply for the Canada-wide child care plan. Therefore, fees would remain "status quo" until approved applications. Further instruction on reimbursing child care fees and how funding will be received would follow the acceptance of the application. 

"We are struggling with a workforce challenge. While it is wonderful that the province has offered and has this plan, there will be an increase in high-quality childcare space. We also need to find ways to train qualified early childhood educators," said Parsons.

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