Three-and-a-half year old Evie was the size of a plum when her parents placed her on child care wait lists in Toronto.
“We didn’t even know it was a girl at this point,” said her dad, David Scanlon. “We put, ‘we have a person who will soon become a person’ on the waiting list.”
They should tell you at the doctor’s office when you find out you’re pregnant that you should put your name down,” said Evie’s mom, Aislinn O’Loughlin.
“Basically you need to put your name down as soon as you see a little pink line on the pregnancy test.”
Evie was waitlisted (under her dad’s name) at three centres. That’s fewer than the dozen-or-more lists other parents have admitted to putting their unborn children on. But because Evie’s parents had applied for a child-care subsidy, their options were limited.
Still, all three centres assured them there’d be a space when they needed it. Then — two months before O’Loughlin was set to go back to work — all three said they were full.
The parents begged the centre closest to them to reconsider.
“We brought Evie up there and we just told them the truth,” Scanlon said. “We were told we’d get into one of the places, everyone’s now said no. And we need this.”
“We have no family here, no car. We’re both working and want to keep working. So we just asked if there was anything they could do, if they could help.”
It worked. Others haven’t been as lucky.
“I signed Grayson onto wait lists once he was born. Clearly that was too late,” said Vancouver mom Megan Hooft.
Her three-year-old is still waiting for a spot at a city-run daycare. And over the past year, his position on the wait list has only gotten worse.
“We used to be in the 300s and now are in the 600-700s,” Hooft exclaimed. “How is this possible? I’m not sure.”
She thinks it’s because she lives a block outside the “priority” boundary.
WATCH: Expensive fees and extensive wait lists frustrate parents
For a while, the kids had to go to two separate centres until two spots opened up together.
That meant two drop-offs and two pick-ups before and after work for the parents with no car.
They stress the daycare wasn’t the one at fault. It’s hard for staff to predict availability because people put themselves on so many lists, Scanlon said.
“Daycares don’t know how many of those names on the list are real,” he reasoned.
“The system is the problem. There’s just not enough spaces.”
Later this week, we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about child care subsidies and how Canada’s child care system could be improved.
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