High costs have been listed as being among the main barriers to parents accessing licensed child care in Waterloo region.
According to preliminary results of the 2021-2025 Early Learning and Child Care Service System Plan survey, other barriers include programs being full, not offering the hours the family needed, or not offering the location that the family needed.
The survey was live from March 19, 2021 to April 16, 2021 and was open to all parents with children aged 12 and under, regardless of whether they access child care or EarlyON services.
The results were presented at the Committee of the Whole meeting last week.
Just under half of respondents — 47 per cent — reported that licensed child care was not affordable for their family.
For families earning less than $40,000 a year, 66 per cent reported that licensed child care is not affordable.
Seventy-three per cent of parents reported using licensed child care in the past two years, with the majority using licensed child-care centres. Twelve per cent of respondents said that they tried to access one or more forms of licensed child care, but were unsuccessful.
Parents were asked to report what two things they would change about their experience of using licensed child care in order to better meet their needs and preferences.
The most common responses were cost, quality, improved waitlist/registration process, more spaces, and flexible days and hours.
As the service system manager for early learning and child care, the region is required to develop a Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan every five years.
The 2021-2025 System Plan will map out the future of childcare and early learning in Waterloo Region, by identifying strategic goals, actions and targets.
The current Early Learning and Child Care Service System Plan was approved by Regional Council in 2016.
Analysis of survey results is ongoing by Children's Services staff and a report with the final results will accompany the completed System Plan, expected in fall 2021.