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Back to School Preparations: Finding Child Care in Your Community

  • Lifestyle
  • Friday, August 24, 2018
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There’s less than two weeks until September, which means the summer’s almost over and it’s time to head back to school!

While your kids may be excited about seeing all their friends again, it also means you’ll have to start the routine of packing lunches, getting the children ready in the mornings, and most importantly, figuring out childcare arrangements for them while you’re at work or away from the house.

With the growing population in Calgary, we know that it can be tricky sometimes to find safe and reliable childcare in your community or surrounding areas, so below are some helpful tips and resources that can lend a hand with your search.

How to Find Child Care Programs

One of the best ways to find available child care programs is to ask your family, friends or neighbours for any recommendations. Alternatively, another option is to use the Child Care Lookup Service, created by the Government of Alberta for all licensed programs and centres. It also lists any recent inspection reports, which can give you a good idea of the conditions and history of the program or centre.

It’s important to ensure that the program you enroll your children in is accredited by the Government of Alberta, meaning that it meets the rigorous standards set by Human Services Alberta for best child care and early learning practices. Each accredited program or child care centre will have their recent inspection report placed in a visible location on its premises, and also display the accreditation logo.

Differences Between Each Program

Child care programs can vary, depending on the age of the children and the location that the program is housed in. Below are the different program types as defined by the Government of Alberta:

  • Daycare programs: Generally in a larger facility catering to a range of different ages – from infants and toddlers to school aged children.
  • Family day homes: Care is offered in a licensed private residence. There are typically no more than six children being cared for at one time (including the caregiver’s own children), with one caregiver.
  • Group family child care programs: Care is offered in a licensed private residence, but with two caregivers at one time caring for typically between seven to ten children.
  • Out-of-school-care programs: Care is offered in places such as schools, and operate during the hours before and after school, during lunch and occasionally during school closures.
  • Pre-school program: Care that is offered for pre-school aged children for four or less hours per day.

Deciding on the Best Program for Your Family

Before making the final decision, it’s strongly recommended that you visit the centre or program residence in person so that you can see firsthand what the children will be doing during their time there, and to meet with the staff members. Programs are diverse in their environments and activities, so doing a one-on-one visit will help determine whether it will be a good fit for your children.

Don’t be hesitant to ask any questions you may have about health and safety, nutrition, and any other concerns. This Child Care Checklist includes a list of considerations and questions about the topics listed above, which can help you evaluate each program based on your priorities. 

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