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The never ending day care waiting lists


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#1 sarihod

Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:45 AM

A bit of frustration coming up the next few lines, but what can I do - daycare centers here in Australia are some kind of an exclusive club.

So, my son has been on waiting lists for a few months now. You may think that once your turn on your list arrives then you will be contacted and get a few days of care for your child and hop back joyfully to the work force. No such thing. Nope. After a while had passed and no communication from the centre (I have called every month to touch base), a friend suggested even more nagging. I didn't want to be annoying, after all there is a list no? There are order and planning etc. no? But I picked up the phone anyway one more time and ever so casually the manager dismissed me with - "we're fully booked till 2013" and then even more casually -  "unless you want Fridays".  

Helloooo - why do you think I'm on the waiting list? Because I just enjoy enrollment forms and waiting periods?

I am trying to get back to work and with no family to take care of my son this mission seems impossible. This means either be on never ending lists or paying a fortune for a nanny. One day of day care is not enough to hold a job but I was happy to "be in the system". Maybe this way I will get more days (just 1 or 2 more!!) to find me some part time work. No, nope again. I am to be on another waiting list - which actually means no real lists just nagging and nagging again until they allocate another day for me. By the time he'll celebrate his 5th birthday I will probably hit the 3 days mark.

I have to do a little comparison here, please forgive me. My friend who gave birth 5 days after me is leaving overseas. When she and her husband decided it was time for their daughter to go to daycare and for mum to go back to her beloved career, they just had to pick a center which was able to cater for their child 5.5 days a week (yes even a few hours on Saturday..) and they had a few nearby options to choose from. Here there are so little options for so many kids no wonder we can't get any days.

But what is the solution I ask. I will not open a family daycare service if that's what you think, and that's usually what people suggest as a solution. I thought of nagging a few centers at the same time and maybe get him to have one day here one day there, but isn't that going to be confusing for him? I don't think we can afford a nanny.

Personally I think something in the system should change, why don't we see some government centers opening up and helping mums be part of this economy. But I don't know how to organise demonstrations...


Any creative suggestions or experiences are much welcomed :-)

#2 Ice Queen

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:20 AM

Firstly may I say I dont work and dont use daycare BUT that doesnt mean I dont agree with your plight.  My biggest frustration is we have all forked over a fortune via our taxes to pay for baby bonuses and paid parental leave and here we all happily producing offspring BUT there is no back up for them all.  No infrastructure AT ALL!  

All I hear is how important it is to get women back in the workforce but as you say, HOW?  

I have just discovered that due to recent changes in the ed system here in SA that my daughter will be nearly 5 before she starts kindy and nearly 6 before she starts school!  Awesome, lets encourage everyone to have kids.......then double the price of daycare so the nonprofitable ones close because the govt funding is cr&p AND start the kids education later.  Brilliant.

Come and drink coffee with me OP. Oh and wine by 430pm.   biggrin.gif  I would shop but I have no money.

#3 seepi

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:23 AM

If you accept the Friday they had available, then you will be an exisitng customer of the centre and will get offered any other days that come up before they go to the waiting list.

I'd do that. Have a day off to yourself, and go back to work once you get two days of care.

#4 baddmammajamma

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:31 AM

Call them back immediately and GRAB THAT FRIDAY SLOT! As seepi points out, once you are "in the system," you have a much better chance of picking up additional days.

I feel your pain. The daycare supply-demand imbalance is a REAL issue for so many families.

Good luck.

#5 RichardParker

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:41 AM

A baby dump on the lawns or steps of parliament.  It would make a fantastic news story and photo opportunity, with the by-line, 'You want us to go back to work, you need to help take care of the children."  Imagine hundreds of babies and kids just sitting all together on parliament steps, their mothers just out of shot at the sidelines, protesting.

A nightmare, logistically, but I'd love to see it happen.

#6 JillyJellyBean

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:47 AM

Greenbag, great plan.

I have been trying to get my 6 month old (she not even born yet) on a wait list in Canberra and cant even get her on a list given that the lists are so long. Its madness. Looks unlikely that Ill be able to go back to work.

#7 Mumma_G

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:51 AM

Take the Friday, more places will become available in January once the current pre-preps move on to schools, people relocate areas. When we were on the 'waiting list' I called every week without fail. It took 9 months before we got a position.  I could have got places elsewhere but I didnt like the centres. Infact I took one of these places, after 6 months of hell we pulled DS out and waited until we could get him into the centre we loved in the first place.

#8 MadamDivine

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:53 AM

Thats mad waiting times..

But it must be only certain areas. I live in SA and I can walk into alot of centres and get a spot within a week, I am always seeing vacant signs advertising for spots. Prob not near the CBD but outer suburbs

#9 boatiebabe

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:59 AM

I would also take the Friday offered.

That's how I got my first child into a day care centre and then I was able to get more days the following year.

For the first year I had to drive DD a hour each way to my aunts house one day a week, DH took a day a week off, and she was in day care one day.

Once we were in we were in and it was no problems getting the three days the following year, and getting my DS in a couple of years later.

Also volunteer to help with fundraising etc if you can. They will see you as a more 'valuable' parent and also make it easier to get more days.

I agree, it's very hard to get care in some places.

#10 Escapin

Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:08 AM

Greenbag, that is simply a fabulous idea! Now to find someone to organise it.

Our own experience has been that DD has been on 3 waiting lists since 4 months BEFORE she was born. We finally got offered places, for next year, when she will be turning 2. Luckily this has worked out for us as I have taken 2 years mat leave. In fact, I think most of the kids starting at this day care will be nearly 2, as the wait list is 2+ years.

It's such a ridiculous system huh. And then to make it financially non-viable for so many people just adds insult to injury. Plus all the crap about how daycare only comes out of the woman's wage. What about their partners? Makes me want to scream.

#11 Bluenomi

Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:33 AM

QUOTE (*Greenbag* @ 03/12/2012, 10:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A baby dump on the lawns or steps of parliament.  It would make a fantastic news story and photo opportunity, with the by-line, 'You want us to go back to work, you need to help take care of the children."  Imagine hundreds of babies and kids just sitting all together on parliament steps, their mothers just out of shot at the sidelines, protesting.

A nightmare, logistically, but I'd love to see it happen.


We have a daycare centre at Parliament House so you don't need to dump them out the front, you can dump them inside! To be fair though it is full and has a waiting list, this year they turned away more families than they had places for  sad.gif

With childcare you put your name down on a list the second you get your BFP. And once you get a place you hang onto it. People who have problems getting places are more likely to be the ones who don't start looking for one until after the baby has arrived by which time the lists are long.

In the long term they need to make it a more attractive career for people to enter. We've lost a lot of carers who go on to become teachers because the pay is better. Which is saying a lot because teachers get paid crap as well.

#12 Guest_Sunnycat_*

Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

QUOTE (Bluenomi @ 03/12/2012, 11:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We have a daycare centre at Parliament House so you don't need to dump them out the front, you can dump them inside! To be fair though it is full and has a waiting list, this year they turned away more families than they had places for  sad.gif

With childcare you put your name down on a list the second you get your BFP. And once you get a place you hang onto it. People who have problems getting places are more likely to be the ones who don't start looking for one until after the baby has arrived by which time the lists are long.

In the long term they need to make it a more attractive career for people to enter. We've lost a lot of carers who go on to become teachers because the pay is better. Which is saying a lot because teachers get paid crap as well.


My DS has been on a waiting list since January and will finally have a spot in January next year. I rang a couple of centres while still pregnant but they said call back a couple of months before starting work, they said they won't put you on the waiting list earlier. My boss rang her centre when she was about 6 weeks pregnant and they put her on a list so I think it must depend entirely on the centre.

#13 liveworkplay

Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

with respect, a couple of months is nothing. Dd1 was on one for 2 years and not offered a day. The only solutions that have worked got us are you work opening their own cc centre or moving to an area where they are available. We add an extra 30min on our trip to work to get the childcare (in the opposite direction I might add)

There are never going to be enough inner city childcare places as land is at a premium and their are more financially lucrative things to use it for. That's the sad reality and I can't see it changing.

#14 Awesome101

Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:57 AM

Call them back and get that Friday. You can build up your days from there. This time of year most centres are fully booked and wont take new customers until February 2013 after they have completed all the enrolments for EXISTING customers.

I had DD and DS in two centres for a few months while waiting for more days at the centre of choice. They settled into the routine with no problems and was not at all confusing for them. (just for me original.gif )

#15 RichardParker

Posted 03 December 2012 - 10:58 AM

QUOTE (Bluenomi @ 03/12/2012, 11:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
With childcare you put your name down on a list the second you get your BFP. And once you get a place you hang onto it. People who have problems getting places are more likely to be the ones who don't start looking for one until after the baby has arrived by which time the lists are long.

Yeah, it depends on the centre.  The one across the road let me put my name down while I was pregnant.  But all of the council-run ones (the best and cheapest ones in my area) have a waiting list of 2 years, which you can't join until the baby is born.  

Bluenomi, the fact that the day-care centre AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE cannot cater for the demand tells us something is really wrong with the system.  

This baby-sit-in idea has merit.  I may just have to organise this for the first session of parliament next year.  



#16 nup

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:03 AM

I'm sorry you're finding it difficult but this is not a nation wide problem by any means. It affects a portion of people who live in densely populated areas where there aren't enough facilities. And people don't want to open up new facilities (as you yourself have said OP) or go out of their area, so the problem will continue for these few people.

Sounds like a case of your chosen area no longer really meeting your needs and yet people persist and whinge. What's the opposite of a NIMBY?

#17 DS1979

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:27 AM

I agree, definitely take the Friday. I wouldn't be surprised if a Monday spot pops up for you soon as well as Mon/Fri are the least most popular days at daycare (well at least where I am they are)  Once you have a spot you will notice that any spare day that comes up will be advertised either near your sign in sheet or via email to existing families before they even go near the waiting lists.

I've left it so late this time as our newest bub is due in March and I've only just started putting its name on a few waiting lists (all with over a year long wait apparently) But with my other two I found if I was flexible and I just took whatever days they had on offer then it was so much easier to switch to the days I really wanted later on down the track.

Good luck, hunting for childcare can be VERY stressful!



#18 casime

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:32 AM

A few months doesn't really seem that long of a wait really.   And why haven't you taken the offered Friday?  If you knock it back, I'd expect that you'll probably go to the back of the queue again.  Take it and go from there.

I put DS's name down when he was born because I was hoping to find a place when he was about six months.   I said that I was willing to take any day they offered, and would change if there was a working parent who needed a specific day (I'm a studying single parent, but because I study online it didn't matter which day I had).   I didn't "nag" as I don't think that it's going to achieve anything except annoying the poor staff who can't magically make places appear when you want them.  They can only work with what they have available.  I got my chosen one day a week when he was six months, immediately asked for a second day, which became available about a month later (two extra days became available, so I took both for a three day total).   It does help to be in the system, and to be prepared to work with the staff.  I'm flexible with my days (have always said I'd switch for a parent who needs a specific work day), pay in advance, always buy the raffle tickets, nice to the staff, and don't niggle over any non-issues, which I think has contributed to me always getting the extra days I wanted.   I've also requested additional days during exam/assignment time which they've always accommodated if they have someone taking a day off.

#19 FeralFP

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:34 AM

That is crazy! We must have lucked out because our area in Perth has plenty of vacancies.

I would agree with others on taking the Friday

#20 witchesforest

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:41 AM

QUOTE
Sounds like a case of your chosen area no longer really meeting your needs and yet people persist and whinge. What's the opposite of a NIMBY?


great, everyone in australia who can't get daycare will all just move house to your area!

perfect solution - except then maybe the daycare where you live will be oversubscribed...and it is hard to move house and get a new mortgage or rent a new place while out of work cause you can't find childcare...and all of our jobs are back in our original area so we will need to find new ones...or we will be adding zillions of dollars in petrol or train fares to our weekly budget making it impossible to afford the daycare once we have moved...oh and our partners will have to leave their jobs and then be in competition with your partner for whatever jobs might be available in this daycare paradise where you live...hmmmm...actually maybe this solution is not the magic bullet to solve the childcare problem?

i put my DD down on our centralised council waiting list (inner city Melbourne) as soon as my 12 week scan confirmed she had a heartbeat. no joy when i needed to go back to FT work when she was 11 months.

i ended up ringing around every private centre in the area and just crying each morning for a month and eventually one took pity on me and gave me 4 days and i just paid through the nose for a babysitter for the 5th day.

#21 Bam1

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:46 AM

Have you looked at surrounding areas, its not like every childcare has waiting lists, a lot have vacancies. When I had twins I couldn't get in for love or money at my closest CC but less than 10 mins away, no problem.  Otherwise take the Friday,and build from there.

#22 Ice Queen

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:49 AM

QUOTE (*Greenbag* @ 03/12/2012, 08:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A baby dump on the lawns or steps of parliament.  It would make a fantastic news story and photo opportunity, with the by-line, 'You want us to go back to work, you need to help take care of the children."  Imagine hundreds of babies and kids just sitting all together on parliament steps, their mothers just out of shot at the sidelines, protesting.

A nightmare, logistically, but I'd love to see it happen.


I do think this is a brilliant idea!  We might have to pen the babies in so they dont fall the steps.....minor details that can be worked out.  We are mums, no logistic is too hard for us!

#23 Cat Burglar

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:57 AM

I feel for you OP. Im in Adelaide where the situation is nowhere near as bad as the Eastern states but I had to try a few different centres. I found if you are flexible with which days you take that helps. You may need to go across a couple of different centres which is far from ideal for your kids.

Thats just been my experience - friends who went on waiting lists for the same centre got in before me as I wanted any 3 days and they only wanted 1 or 2.

Is it possible that if you are looking for work centrelink or JET program will help you in any way? I know that they prioritise places for people who need it for work, which is as it should be.

Hope you find something

#24 Cat Burglar

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:59 AM

QUOTE (liveworkplay @ 03/12/2012, 11:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
with respect, a couple of months is nothing. Dd1 was on one for 2 years and not offered a day.


Yep! several of the centres I put DD down for had waiting lists of over 2 years for the 0-2 age, so obviously the wait list is completely pointless as they will be in the next room by then!

#25 jayta

Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:00 PM

I put my name down at my desired centre at 7 weeks pregnant. Finally, almost 2 years later, my DD had her 1st day last week (aged 13months). And they could only offer us 1 day a week.

We luckily managed to get in elsewhere in the meantime (only spent 6 months on that waiting list)




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