Moving to Vancouver or Victoria, young parents may need help wrapping their heads around the daycare system in British Columbia, because finding the right daycare for your children is – understandably – one of the greatest challenges relocating parents face. As usual, we are here to help!

There is no province-scale daycare system in British Columbia. All daycare providers are privately owned and operated (sometimes non-profit though). The Government only issues licenses and monitors the application of childcare-related laws.

We advise you to choose among the Licensed options, where operating conditions, personnel training and ratios are regulated by law:

  • Group childcare: group daycare centres are big, collective structures, open full-time and year-round, with several groups of 12 to 25 children.
  • Family childcare: one licensed and trained adult looks after up to 7 children at his or her place, full-time.
  • Preschool: for children aged 3-4, typically operating only four hours a day and from September to June.

License Not Required” childcare providers, or LNR, are people who take care of maximum two children, or one sibling group, either at their home or at the children’s home (“In Child’s Home”). There is no requirement of previous experience with children, training, or anything else, so we suggest that you use this option only for the occasional baby-sitting. If you really have no choice, try to find an LNR childcare provider that is at least “registered”, and ideally, recommended: it is guaranteed that their criminal record, health state and home safety are compatible with the exercise of childcare.

Whether you choose licensed or unlicensed daycare providers, you should know that there is a shortage of daycare spots throughout the province (even the country!), which means huge waiting lists that sometimes require you to register as soon as you get pregnant. For newcomers, it sometimes forces the “other” parent (who is not on a Work Permit) to renounce looking for a job here and to stay at home to take care of the children. To find a daycare spot, the best way to go is to contact the Child Care Resource and Referral program. You can also try the Daycare Bear.

Another consequence of the lack of daycare spots is that childcare costs are soaring, especially in the Vancouver region, where you may have to pay around $1,500 a month for each child! The Government of British Columbia subsidizes parents and/or private childcare providers, depending on family income and family composition, up to $600 a month. You may also be eligible to federal tax benefits. Click here for more information.

If you wish to know more about daycare in British Columbia, and if you need advice on how to choose a provider, you should read the Parents’ Guide, published by the Government. We wish you the best of luck!

Photo credits: Stuart Miles (