Ooh, the competition! You’ve probably heard that daycares in Ontario nowadays are 1. Tight on space and 2. Ridiculously costly. However, did you know that sometimes to get into a daycare a year from now, you should sign up BEFORE your baby is even born? Isn’t that crazy? As I am 8.5 months pregnant, I figured this is a good time to see what the deal is when it comes to all of this. For this post, I will focus specifically on infant care (0-18 months) as parental leaves can range and this is what we will need.
First, the facts:
- There are 2 kinds of licensed daycare options available: Centre-based child care & Home-based child care. Read about the differences here
- Infant care is the most costly child care (more staff required per child)
- 95% of Hamilton daycares currently maintain a wait list
- According to a 2018 report, Hamilton has the 3rd highest infant daycare costs in the country (~$1497) after Toronto and Mississauga.
- Financial support is available if you qualify. How do you know? Access the Child Care Subsidy Calculator here
Not too bright an outlook, right? I mean, how does one line up a daycare at the same time one returns to work if you’re on a wait list? Aside from that, cost can be another barrier. Can two regular incomes even afford having two young children in daycare? Yikes. I have a friend who still has their one- year old on a wait list at a few places who told me that at one of them, they were ‘interviewed’ before being put on the wait list. Once an opening appears, the whole wait list is emailed and the first one to respond gets it. Ruthless! Currently my husband and I are looking at licensed centre-based child care options in downtown Hamilton. If you are also in a similar position (but please, don’t sign up for the wait lists before we do! haha) here are the options:
Downtown Infant Centre-Based Daycares:
Little Learning House (86 Homewood Ave)- This cute and colourful centre in the Locke St neighbourhood has both full-day, full-time (9hrs M-F) and full-day, part-time (9 hrs with 2 or 3 set days a week) infant care available. Nutritious meals and snacks are provided along with creative play to help babies learn and explore.
Central Day Care (101 Catharine St. S)- Started in 1971, this centre focuses on play and sensory learning (check out the big naturalized playground in the back with veggies and fruit trees you can eat from), and has full-time cooks on staff to prepare meals and snacks from scratch! Only full-time care (5 days per week) available.
First Class Children’s Centre (139 Rebecca St)- Staffed by a big team of 45 early child education instructors, this centre has a small child to teacher ratio. They also offer delicious hot meals and snacks prepared on site. Not too much information available on pricing or care flexibility but you can definitely contact them to learn more!
Cathedral Children’s Centre (30 Wentworth St. N)- Full day infant care is available at Cathedral High School where they partner with families and parents to encourage interaction and involvement- they even organize events like bbqs so parents can come. Nutritious meals that are culturally diverse are also offered.
*Remember that licensed home-care daycares are also available! Here is a map of all licensed daycare locations across Hamilton. Any advice to share? Any tips? What worked for you? Good luck in your search!