We all know finding good quality daycare for our children is a top priority if we return to work. I'm happy to welcome Catherine on the blog today, as she tells us more about her daycare experience. For me, becoming a parent has undoubtedly been the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done. Along with all the many high points (first smiles, wonderful hugs, “Mommy, I love you so much!”) and low points, (the multiple night awakenings, tantrums) come the pressures and stresses of being responsible for another being. Especially with my first child, when it came time to make a decision about childcare I found the options overwhelming: nanny, nanny-share, home- based daycare, centre-based daycare, non-profit vs. private, English vs. French, etc. I barraged myself with questions: where was my child going to get the best care? What did this mean? Where would she have an enriching experience? Where was she going to be the happiest? And what about us? What would make us the happiest?
In the end we chose a non-profit co-op daycare in our community 2 years ago, and are very happy with our choice. This was made even clearer to us when we needed care for our son and put him in a private daycare centre (he could not attend the co-op centre where our daughter attends until he was 18 months old). Our son was very happy at the private centre and he received good quality care from the educators, but it was in another neighbourhood - so we had to do two drop-offs and pickups everyday, which was a particular challenge if one of us was out of town. Our experience with the administration was very negative, we were rarely informed, and never consulted about what was going on at the centre. The fees were higher, we were expected to provide lunches, the snacks provided were often sugary and insubstantial, and the staff were not well treated or paid well, which resulted in a high turnover.
Our son joined our daughter at Capital Daycare Centre as soon as he was old enough. It was a relief for us to be able to walk our kids to daycare and spend less time in cars shuttling them around; something I am sure we will have to do enough of as they grow older and become more involved in activities. We were happy to have our children attend a centre with other children from our neighbourhood who they would also see at the park and on our street, making it easy to foster friendships with other families. As well, Capital Daycare has been providing child care to the families of Old Ottawa South since 1973 – that’s 40 years! And many of the staff have been working there for over 20 years, which makes it feel more like a family than a centre. As a co-op, the centre is managed by a Board of Directors made up of volunteer parents and staff, which gives parents the chance to be involved in the operation of the centre. I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve on the Board for the last 2 years. This has helped me to feel connected to the centre and a partner in the care my children receive, rather than a customer purchasing services.
Every family must weigh many factors when choosing child care for their child/children and make the best decision for their family. For all the reasons above, and many more, the non-profit co-op daycare in our community is the right choice for our family.
Non-profit daycare centres, such as Capital Day Care Centre, are increasingly at-risk of being pushed out of the market by private centres due to cuts in provincial and municipal funding. Our centre recently underwent a 5 year financial planning exercise which showed us that the centre will not be financially viable in 5 years if we are not able to significantly increase our revenue or reduce our costs. In light of this, the Board has decided to make fundraising a priority. We have our first big event planned for May 25th - see below for details. I hope you will consider coming out to help us support keeping good quality, affordable child care in our communities!