Demand for child care high 0
An official at a Lacombe day care provider network said the demands for its services are the highest she's seen.
Small Wonders Family Day Homes co-ordinator Kerry Bajema, said they have 40 children from 27 families on this year's wait list.
"I've been here for seven years and usually the wait list has been between 10 to 13 children at any given time, so this is certainly the biggest as long as I've been here," she said.
To meet the demand, Small Wonders would have to expand its network of 19 day homes to 30, said Bajema.
There are a few possible reasons why the demand has climbed, said Bajema.
First, Lacombe is a growing community, with a lot of young families moving in.
Secondly, families are becoming more likely to look for licensed day cares as opposed to private ones, said Bajema.
Finally, the provincial government has raised the threshold needed to qualify for childcare subsidies. In April of this year, the maximum household income to qualify for the maximum amount of childcare was raised to $50,000 from $35,100.
"That increases the number of families that are actually able to access that funding to assist with the cost of their childcare," said Bajema.
That raise means a single parent making a household income of $50,000 qualifies for $546 in subsides per month. It costs from $34 to $39.50 a day for childcare at one of Small Wonders' day cares.
There is "absolutely" a need for more children spaces in Lacombe, said Bajema.
Small Wonders has been trying to recruit more day care homes to expand their network, but have only received four applications so far.
"Ideally, what we'd like to do is have a conversation with a lot of the privately owned providers," Bajema said, "because there's a lot of them out there, and be able to sit down and speak with them about the differences between private childcare and licensed childcare."
Those private day care homes that opted to become licensed by Small Wonders would be able to get access to professional development training, not have to worry about collecting individual fees as the agency would do that, and get additional liability insurance focused on childcare situations that aren't covered by regular home insurance.
Parents using licensed daycares can be assured they meet government standards, which are enforced by inspections from the agency.
They are required to only care for a maximum of six children under the age of 12, with a maximum three children being under 36 months, and a maximum of two being under 24 months. The providers have to have a criminal record check, plan a program of activities, and have back-up care plans ready to go.