There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect childcare service for your little one only to be told that they don’t have any availability and you’ll have to join a waitlist until a position becomes available. Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid childcare waitlists. Read on to learn more.
How long is a childcare waitlist?
While some childcare providers have availability straight off the bat, others have waitlist times that can extend to anywhere from 1 to 2 years! Because childcare providers have to operate within strict educator-to-child ratios, there are often limited positions available for children at any one service, which is where waitlists come in. And because younger children require more one-on-one care, there are usually even fewer positions available for infants and babies.
To help you avoid that waitlist at childcare, here are our 5 top tips.
1. Start planning early
As the saying goes, ‘it pays to be organised’, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to enrolling your little one in childcare. While childcare might be the last thing on your mind while you’re pregnant, if you’re set on sending your child to a specific childcare service then it could be worth putting their name down early if they have extended waiting times. Especially if you’re planning on sending them to care within the first year or so.
Because of the low educator-to-child ratio requirements for babies and infants, these places can often fill up faster than other age groups, so it’s well worth doing your research and securing a position before you get desperate.
2. Join more than one waitlist
When it comes to avoiding childcare waitlists, one of the best tricks is to join more than one waitlist. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, so share the love around by signing up for a few of your top childcare picks. That way you can have your pick of the bunch as spaces become available. And just because you accept a position at one childcare service doesn’t mean you have to remove your name from the other waitlists if you’re still waiting to hear back from your top preference.
While it’s worth being across a few different lists if you’re set on securing a spot for your little one, it’s worth making sure you’re clear on the costs and fees too. Most childcare services charge a waitlist fee. The individual childcare service sets its own waitlist application fee, so chances are you might have to fork out a few dollars to submit more than one application. Although it’s not always convenient, it’s often a small price to pay to secure your child a spot at a childcare service. And don’t forget to check whether the fees are refundable in the event you’re not able to secure a spot.
3. Keep in touch with the childcare providers
While you’re on a waitlist, it’s often a good idea to stay in contact with the childcare service regularly to make sure you don’t fall off the radar. Touch base with the childcare providers you’re listed with at least once a month to keep your details up to date.
And while it’s important to keep in touch with the childcare providers, it’s also important to make sure you can be easily contacted yourself. In some instances, a childcare service may reach out to you if they need additional documents or information, so be sure to reply promptly or you could risk losing your place on the waitlist. If you’re going to be away, you might want to leave alternative contact details so there are no chances of missing out.
4. Build a relationship with the childcare educators
Keeping in touch with the childcare provider is one thing, but building a strong relationship with the childcare educators and staff that work there can also help you get across the line. Good things often come from positive relationships, and the same goes when it comes to securing a position at a childcare service.
Whether it’s the first point of contact or during your regular check-ins, be sure to maintain a positive attitude with the centre director, educators and staff. These people have the inside scoop, so they’ll be more inclined to share important information with you regarding the waitlist if you’ve taken the time to establish a rapport with them.
If you have friends or family members with children at the childcare service you’re interested in, it can also be worth calling in a favour to see if they can put in a good word for you. They may be able to mention to the centre director that you’re interested in enrolling your child there too, which could help you to get ahead.
5. Be flexible
When it comes to enrolling your little one in childcare, things don’t always go to plan so it’s important to be flexible and go with the flow where you can. In some cases, you might be offered a position at your service of choice but it might not be for the exact days you’re after or it could even be a little earlier than you initially anticipated. In these instances, it’s often a good idea to accept the position and get your child into the childcare service. Once you have your foot in the door it’ll be much easier to snag different care days that work better with your schedule.
It’s also worth making it clear to the different childcare services that you’re willing to compromise to secure your child a spot. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t also be upfront about your preferences either.
At Care for Kids, we’re here to help you navigate the childcare journey. Whether you’re in need of friendly advice or you’re looking to find a childcare provider in your area, you can count on us. Explore our huge range of resources or use our childcare search tool to find, compare and connect with local childcare providers.