Registering your child for childcare can never be too early. In some Provinces, finding quality child care is so difficult that most parents put their names on wait lists as soon as they become pregnant.
Parents may require childcare because they are dual income family, are enrolled in school, or simply to get a little peace and quiet around the house.
So, what are the options available in Canada when it comes to child care?
Nannies or Au Pair
These are care givers who would usually live in the same household as the family they are providing care for. The duties of the nanny typically include childcare as well as light housekeeping.
A public centre where kids, ages 0 – 6 years are taken care of during the day. The ages of kids cared for vary across centres. The ratio of kids to staff is determined by regulation and is age dependent. These centres are regulated by government and subject to periodic inspections. Staff are required to have qualifications in early childhood education. Some centres will include meals as part of their services, while others require you to bring your kid’s food from home.
Private Day home
Similar to a daycare centre, except run from a home by an individual. They can be registered (licensed and regulated by government) or not. Because these are mostly operated by an individual, the number of kids cared for are limited.
This type of care is geared towards children ages 3 and 4. They are typically open for 2-3 hours and can be a good transition for kids starting kindergarten later in the year.
Before and After Care
Kids of school age requiring care outside of school hours are served by these service providers. The costs are not as expensive as full day care, because of number of hours care is needed, and the ages of the kids. Some of them also offer full care in the summer months when school is out.
Subsidy and Cost of child care
The cost of child care varies across Provinces. Generally, child care costs for children under 2 years are more expensive. Quebec and Manitoba have the lowest child care costs while Toronto and Vancouver have the highest. According to a recent study by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the median monthly child care fees for infants is $1649 compared to $164 in Quebec.
The government of Canada provides subsidies to reduce the costs of childcare to qualifying families. Eligibility depends on family income and varies by Province.
The school year runs from September to June. During the summer months, working parents may need to arrange to have their kids supervised. This may include enrolling their children in Summer camps. Summer camps can be day or overnight camps that run for a week at a time. The options are unlimited and includes sport, arts, science, cooking and bible camps to name a few.
Can my child stay at home by themself?
Most Provinces don’t have an age limit at which a child can be left alone. Manitoba and New Brunswick’s welfare Acts state that a parent cannot leave a child under the age of 12 unattended without making provision for adequate supervision. In Ontario, the limit is 16 years. And only Quebec has an age limit (7 years) that a child can be left alone in a vehicle.
Claiming Child care expenses
If you paid for childcare in order to work or study, you may be able to claim those expenses on your Tax return. Claiming these expenses could potentially reduce your Income taxes. You can claim up to $8,000 per child for children under the age of 7, and $5,000 per child for children aged 7 to 16 years. The amount to claim for disabled, dependent children of any age who qualify for the disability tax credit, is $11,000.
For more information about this credit, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.
The decision to entrust the care of your child to someone else can be difficult.
Whatever option you decide to go with, make sure you ask questions and feel comfortable with your decision.
Still have questions or need advice on child care? Post your question on Ask moi or leave a comment below.