Using the List

When I first started writing this post there had been some talk in the news about the Online Childcare Registry.  I got sidetracked by my playroom renovation but still want to finish this post – better late than never.

Some parents complain that they have had their names on the registry for years and never get called because childcare facilities do not use the list.  I can’t speak for all facilities but I can say that I definitely do use the list.

In fact, recently I’ve used it a lot.  I’ve had a couple families that have moved away and so I’ve had some open childcare spaces – actually I’ve had more open spaces in the last six months than in the three years prior to that.

So yes, the online childcare registry works but it is complicated.  The most recent space I had was actually empty for two whole weeks!  That is a really long time for a space to be empty especially considering that I had more than a month’s notice as to when the family was moving.  Why did it take six weeks for me to find someone for that space?

Was I being picky?  I know providers who interview several families for a single childcare space – like an employer seeking a new employee.  They contact everyone on their list and set up interviews to narrow the list down to a few preferred applicants.  Some families get called back for a second interview or even a meeting at the family’s home.  Eventually the provider chooses the family whose child they believe will be the ‘best fit’ for their program.

I can’t do that.  I simply can’t make the call to say that I decided another child was a better fit for my program and you didn’t make the cut so you’ll have to keep looking.  Yes, it would be easier for me to enrol a child whose family shared all my values and beliefs but what about the families that are not so easy?

I’d love to fill all my spaces with outdoorsy children whose families would never complain about their child getting dirty or going out to play on cold or wet days.  Does that mean that I shouldn’t take the child that hates is afraid to be outside – the one that doesn’t even have proper outdoor clothing because they never get to play outside – the family that will require me to spend a lot of time explaining the reasoning behind and the benefits of unstructured time outdoors?

No, it took me so long to fill that space partly because I did use the childcare registry. There were 137 children on my waitlist on the registry.  I chose to sort by ‘space type’ because I had an infant space available. Then I started at the top of the list – families whose ‘required for’ date had already passed.

This is where the problems begin.  I click on the name of the first child on the list – the family’s info is  displayed on six tabs; ‘Child’ including name, age, # of siblings etc, ‘Requirements’ including date applied and preferred start date, ‘Hours’ including FT, PT, evenings, weekends, etc, ‘Notes’, ‘Main Contact’ name, address, phone #’s, email etc, and ‘Other Contact’.  I have to click through the tabs to get all the information I need – and write it down on paper.

It would be easier if all the information was on one page and I could just copy/paste what I need to contact the parent.  I can’t just leave the information open on my computer screen – the system will time out before I finish the phone call/email.  I’m also going to want all that information again later if I do manage to arrange a meeting – assuming all the family’s information is up to date.

Being unable to contact the parents on the list is another issue if they haven’t updated their contact information.  I’ve had parents call me and explain that they are already on the registry but have a new ‘required for’ date or other information and the system wouldn’t let them log in or change their information.  I’ve encountered problems logging in too – once the login button had mysteriously vanished – the rest of the page displayed fine but there was a blank space where the login button should have been.

When I am logged in I usually write down the information for several prospective families just in case I can’t contact any of them and I am unable to login again.  Each time I view a family’s information and then return to the main list I have to redo my ‘sort by’ selection because it automatically reset.

I know, this probably is beginning to sound like a rant against the registry but it is just frustration.  I really do prefer the online registry over my old paper list but I just wish the registry was a little more user friendly.  I shouldn’t have to set aside a large portion of a day just to create a list from a list.

But I did, and from that list I eliminated several who had already found care, and there were some I couldn’t reach.  Yes, I did have an empty space for two whole weeks before I managed to fill it – with  a child from the online registry.

I know there are many parents desperately seeking childcare – they call and interrupt my online search.  So, I ask them – ‘Are you on the childcare registry?’  It might be quicker to just to set up an interview with the caller but I’m stubborn.  There are others who have been waiting longer I just have to find them. I want the online childcare registry to work.