What should you do if you’re placed on a child care wait list?

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           According to Child Care America, a nonprofit child care advocacy group, South Carolina has more working mothers than ever. In 2018, the number of single and married working mothers with children was estimated to be 335,723 with the number of children under the age of 6 who potentially needed child care estimated at 226,195.

            So, with that staggering number of children headed into child care settings across the state, what does that mean for parents (both mothers and fathers) as well as other caregivers who are trying to enroll children into a quality child care center?

            A potential waiting game.

            Yes, as many parents and caregivers know, many accredited child-care centers typically operate at full capacity. What’s more, most child care centers also operate on a first-come, first served basis when it comes to admitting new children with infant care typically being the longest wait category.

            However, there are some tips that parents and caregivers can follow to help better navigate admission to a quality child care facility.


  • Sign up for a desired child care center the moment you know you are expecting a baby.
  • Wait-list your child at least a year or more before you expect to need care.
  • Get on—and stay on—the wait list of your first-choice center even if it seems hopeless.
  • Look for child care centers where you might be entitled to priority admission such as those sponsored by employers, churches or universities with which you have a personal or professional connection.
  • Enroll all your kids at the same center. Siblings of children who are already enrolled typically get first dibs on openings, to keep families together. Even signing up an older sibling for after-school care or summer camp at your target center may be enough to earn a younger sibling a place.
  • Get on wait lists at more than one center and check in with all centers on a regular basis to make sure you’re still on the wait-list.
  • Because wait-listed families or caregivers may only have a couple of days to respond to an offer of admission, make sure all centers have your current contact information — especially if you travel or leave town on a regular basis.
  • Try to enroll in the summer months since there are often more slots available during that time.

Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for ABC Quality approved child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.

By ABC Quality Team at 5 Mar 2019, 11:00 AM