The most desirable childcare centres often have a long waiting list. If you are currently planning for your family and know that you will be needing a place in a long-term daycare centre, here are some tips to make sure that you move up the list.
Specify that you will be needing the place for work-related requirements
Childcare centres usually follow a hierarchy of needs when considering different families' applications for spaces. Preference is given to families needing respite due to child welfare issues, then work requirements (including looking for work), study requirements and then families without specific childcare needs. If you can specify that you have a work-related requirement for childcare you'll jump ahead of many of the other applications for spaces.
Many parents put their name down at multiple childcare centres when looking for a space for their child. However once they have a space, or move to a different location, they may no longer be interested in all of the centres that they originally applied for. By calling the centre and letting them know that you are still looking for a space in their centre you will keep your place in the list 'live'.
If you have a favourite centre it can pay to be flexible. Perhaps if the centre does not have a place for every day that you need childcare you can combine care options, including using grandparents or an au pair/nanny share during the days that you cannot get the care that you need. In many cases, you'll have top priority for any day spaces that come up if you are an existing family.
Equally it can make sense that if a place comes up earlier than you need it that you take that place. You can either pay for the spot as a placeholder or use this as a great chance to ease your child into childcare before you need to do longer hours. Perhaps you can get some important errands done before you end up back at work, such as food shopping or catching up on other necessary meetings and appointments.
Finding the right childcare centre for your family can make a return to work much less stressful for the whole family. Be sure to start your preparation process earlier by doing tours and submitting applications before your child is born to make sure you can get the best possible placement.
We have the trickiest time finding childcare for our baby, as we both do shift work. My husband is a police officer, and I'm a doctor, so we always seem to struggling to get someone to look after our son when we are at work at nights. We want to know that he is being loved and cared for even when we are not there. Luckily we have a great childcare service that is flexible, and sometimes we can leave our son longer if we need to work later or if emergencies arise. This blog is about juggling childcare for shift workers.