Centralized waitlist to give county parents ‘one stop’ to apply for childcare spaces

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Parents applying for licensed childcare spots in Wellington County will soon have a one-stop place to go online where they can find and apply to area programs.

If you’re one of the hundreds of parents with a child on a waiting list, current applications will also be visible on the county’s new centralized waitlist, expected to launch this spring.

Waitlists from area childcare providers are currently being transferred to the new centralized system, known as “Child Care Connect” and administered by a company called “OneHSN.”

The initial $62,300 cost of starting and running the system in the first year is covered by a portion of the county’s allotment from the federal Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care program. The yearly cost drops to $56,600 after the system is running.

Once launched, parents will get an email prompting them to create an account and login to the web-based platform.

Those who already have existing applications with area providers should see those applications in the new system, but will still need to contact individual providers for updates on where their child is on a particular list.

For those applying to programs, users will see a listing or a map of providers that can be applied to.

Though each program must be applied to individually, that’s done with a single profile, meaning parents won’t have to repeatedly fill out information for each application.

“They’re still going to select what programs they want to apply to, but they’re going to do it all in one spot,” county early years director Mandy Koroniak told the Advertiser.

She’s responsible for the move to the centralized list, and has been spreading the proverbial gospel about the platform for the better part of a year, telling operators they’re going to want to participate.

There are around 80 childcare programs in the county, run by around 40 operators, and though not every operator is participating, the vast majority are.

“Once the system is live, this is where families are going to go to look for childcare,” Koroniak said.

“I’m really trying to make it as successful and painless as possible; I believe very strongly in this system and the value that it will add.” 

Beyond the 1,500 children on waiting lists for the county’s directly-operated childcare centres, the county doesn’t have an accurate understanding of what overall local demand is because waitlists are currently held by individual operators.

The county can make a best guess based on census data and the number of licensed spaces, but it’s still just a guess.

With the new centralized list, the county will, for the first time, gain an understanding of the number of families seeking childcare placements by age groups.

“I’m really excited about what we’re going to be able to learn,” Koroniak said.

The county will known how long children have been waiting on a list, and where demand is greatest, according to Koroniak.

The data will also help with advocacy, and inform county planning for future childcare spaces.