Child care is increasingly needed in a society where both parents work. There are a variety of options in Montréal to fit all needs. Always research your options carefully before leaving your child with someone else. It is important to find a facility that works for you and your child. Some factors to consider:
Budget: It is important to know what you are able to spend to help determine where you should look. Think about the number of hours and time to day you will need a sitter to determine your total costs.
Language: Your child may need a dual language facility if they do not speak the native language. As Québécois speak French and/or English, almost all facilities facilitate both languages.
Age of Children: Choices in child care are more limited before 3 years old, and children over 5 years old may attend public pre-school for at least half a day. Some schools require that children be potty-trained.
Service Provided: Some facilities offer occasional care or partial care (i.e. 3 days a week), while other facilities only offer full-time.
Proximity to home or work: This is often the deciding factor when choosing a child care facility. Consider your neighborhood, or the area around your work. The easier the commute, the better the situation.
When choosing a care center, also check staff turnover. Consistency in care givers is a major benefit for your child. Make sure that you completely trust any facility or care giver you leave your child with. This is an important element in creating a happy situation, and a happy life.
Meeting local moms is a great way to determine availability and options. Meet at a park, playground, or try online forums like EasyExpat's Montréal forum.
The Québec government recognizes three types of subsidized daycare services:
A child care centre permit may be issued only to a non-profit legal person or a cooperative. A day care centre permit may be issued to a natural or legal person running a for-profit business, or to a non-profit organization. The holder of a day care centre permit must provide day care in a single facility. Home child care is a paid service provided by an individual in a private residence. For the child care to be subsidized, the person must be recognized as a home child care provider by a coordinating office.
Québec offers subsidies for families that need help paying for child care. Child care expenses can be used to apply for a tax credit. Only one parent needs to have earned income in order to apply. The maximum amount of child care expenses that can be used to calculate the credit is $9,000 per child. At a tax credit rate of 26 percent, you could save $2,340 of income tax if you are claiming the maximum amount.
Exceptions to the rules do exist. If a parent is at school full time, has a disability or is separated from his or her spouse - they may still qualify for the credit. Consult a tax professional to find the best option for your family.
Babysitter's are generally employed on a temporary or short-term basis. Often a friend of the family or relative is employed for an evening to watch over the child at the parents's residence. Usually young women are the babysitter's and may offer their services as a business. The Canadian Red Cross offers a helpful babysitting info page for babysitters and parents.
The cost of care provided by a babysitter is usually lower than a daycare. This is because the overhead is lower and their status as self-employed avoids the charges of tax or national insurance contributions. Expect to pay minimum $5 per child per hour in Montréal, with prices averaging around $7. Additional costs may apply for multiple children, or care after midnight. It is up to you and the babysitter to negotiate a reasonable rate.
Most families find a babysitter by word-of-mouth, letting friends and family know that they are looking. Parents may also try posting on bulletin boards at community centers, grocery stores, or expat hang-outs. More resources are on-line, like on expat classified's babysitter search.
Always get references and check on them before leaving your child with a stranger. As many babysitters are younger, ask if you can talk to their family, neighbours, teachers, other babysitting clients or coaches. Ask open-ended questions such as, "Tell me about her" or "What's she like with other children?". Make sure you are confident in a sitter's maturity and reliability before leaving your child.
For consistent babysitting, you may look at an au pair. Consult the section on "Au Pair" under "Find a Job".