Originally published in June 2014 in The Busy Signal.

For those of you who have children, I’m curious—how many of you have quality, accessible childcare?

At Prairie School for Union Women (PSUW), I learned that only 11.5% of children age 5 and under have access to regulated childcare! That was a 2012 stat and I don’t believe it has gotten any better.

Waiting lists in Regina have 200-300 children on them— the ones I have my name on. And when these centers only have a turn around of 10 children PER YEAR, it makes me wonder how anyone finds care when they need it.

Children under 18 months are the hardest to find childcare for because you can only have 3 infants per adult. When women get only 12 months of maternity leave, that leaves 6 months where they may be struggling (even more) for someone to watch their children.

Then there is the matter of unlicensed care, which all-to-often consists of setting the child in front of a TV.

I went to see a place in my neighborhood. The house was small to begin with. The area where the children were kept consisted of 1 playroom (half full of toys stacked up the wall and in the crib), a small kitchen, bathroom, and living/dining room combo. The children were not allowed anywhere else in the house. And the backyard was off limits because the lady said she put a pool back there. However, I noticed a large amount of garbage stacked along the back fence as I walked up.

The lady said she had anywhere from 3 to 20 children in her care. (Apparently her teenage son, who was glued to the TV while we were there, was one of her ‘helpers.’)

I couldn’t leave the house fast enough.