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Online maps show child-care options

May 29 2012

Parents struggling to find child care can use a new online map to locate the closest facilities.

The interactive map lets parents pinpoint daycare and child-care providers near their home address, based on a host of factors, such as the child's age, facility licence, hours of care and meal and pickup service.

It bundles together government data that was already available in various locations, but rarely used.

"Folks would phone up wanting information and there was a level of frustration with all the stuff [that] was already there but it was hard to find," said Mary McNeil, minister of children and family development.

A map lets people easily target their own neighbourhood or city to access a list of nearby providers that fit their needs, she said.

"It's just a way better tool to get the information out in a really user-friendly way," said McNeil.

The government map also provides links to inspection reports for each child-care business. Those reports come from inspectors at local health authorities who check to make sure daycares are meeting licence requirements and standards of care.

While inspection reports have been previously posted online by most health authorities, they haven't been provided in a single website. They are "really useful" for parents, said McNeil.

The new map does not list the number of available child-care spaces at each facility, so parents will still have to call around to find an open spot.

Keeping a list of available spaces, which would change daily and be complicated by wait lists, would be difficult and likely inaccurate, said McNeil.

The map lists licensed group care and family-care facilities. The next step is to add non-licensed sites, said McNeil.

The government has launched a separate map for Early Years Programs, along with early language, literacy, aboriginal and special-needs programs.

The maps are located at mcf.gov.bc.ca/childcare.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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