When Should You Start Looking for a Daycare

September 30, 2020

Deciding to put your child or children in daycare is a big decision. And once you have made it, there will be a million questions that are probably racing through your mind. That said, knowing when to start looking is just as important as knowing what to look for. Like all parents, you’ll have a list of priority items that matter most, and so finding the perfect daycare will require some time. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you start looking for a daycare.

  1. How much time away from work do you have? / When do you have to go back to work?

    Understanding your timeline for going back to work is perhaps the most useful signal/benchmark for when to start looking. If you have to go back to work after 12 weeks, you’ll want to kick off your search before your baby is born. Most daycares have waitlists (which we’ll get into!) and you’ll want to make sure you are on it to secure the right timeline for your child.
  2. Consider current events

    Now, more than ever, there are more people looking into daycare programs. Between hybrid learning, remote/distance learning and people working from home, there is a whole group of parents that are looking for alternatives to keep their children safe while they work. If using a daycare is something you always planned for, keep in mind that there may be more parents out there now looking into childcare programs. You will want to start looking as soon as you know you will need to put your child in daycare, which could even be before they are born.
  3. Waitlists

    There are plenty of daycare providers that don’t have waitlists, but if you are looking for a specific type of program, you will want to start researching and looking at least two months in advance to make sure you can secure a spot in the program or on the waitlist for your child. If you have a specific daycare provider you know you want, call and find out their specific timeline.
  4. Availability

    As the amount of children daycare programs can accept gets smaller due to possible pandemic restrictions, you will want to start looking sooner rather than later. And some daycare programs might not even be able to open for health and safety reasons. The earlier you start looking, the more you’ll be able to find programs that are available and accepting new children.

So when is the right time to start looking for a daycare provider? With the above in mind, the timeline will be unique to you, but having an understanding of when you'll need the daycare will help you kick off the research process with enough time. Sure, it would be great to decide, yes, you are ready to put your child in daycare, and there’s an opening for you the next day. But the reality is, there is planning involved and with so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s important to be safe and be comfortable, and to have enough time to find the place that best suits your needs.

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