top of page

Work that Waitlist

In the United States, waitlists for daycares and early learning programs can be months and even years long. Jumping on waitlists late or before you’re confident in the services that a childcare program provides, can be a costly mistake. Let’s explore everything that you need to know to confidently navigate the waitlist process!

Why do programs have waitlists?

High demand coupled with a limited supply of daycare and early learning program spots has resulted in programs needing to maintain waitlists. Waitlists are used to manage demand and ensure that programs are remaining in compliance and providing quality services. Programs have licensing requirements that dictate child-to-teacher ratio, how many children they can serve in the square footage that they have in their classrooms, and age grouping.

When should I get my child on waitlists?

The length of waitlists varies depending on location, but on average lists are between 6 to 18 months long. This means, depending on when your family needs childcare services, that getting on waitlists prior to your child being born can be crucial. A ProEarly Co client recently shared that she was 4 weeks pregnant when she put down a deposit. “I remember thinking ‘this is so early,’ but it was the last spot and I am so grateful that we did.”

How do I get my child on waitlists?

  1. Research all your options. This could mean being flexible on location, schedule, and where care is provided (e.g. daycare provided in a home vs. in a school building).

  2. Talk to other families in your community. In-person, on facebook, ask questions and list to other family's experiences.

  3. Visit all the programs you are considering. Meet the teachers, not just the center directors or administrators. Pro Tip: Use the ProEarly Co Interview Guide to make sure you get all your most important questions answered.

  4. Submit applications with any required documentation and deposits.

What other pro tips should I know?

  • Waitlists may require non-refundable deposits that may or may not apply to your first payment. Knowing which programs meet your family’s top must-haves before you put in applications and deposits will save you money and frustration.

  • Maintain communication and follow up on deadlines. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to periodically check in with each program and express your continued interest. If a program shares that they expect to have a spot available by a certain time, don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Also, be sure to contact them if your contact information changes.

Navigating the waitlist process can be a challenging and exhausting process, but it is a necessary step if your family’s choice for childcare is a daycare or early learning program. If you start early and take the time to find a program that aligns with your family’s priorities, then you will dramatically increase your odds of finding the right fit. Remember, it takes a village and the ProEarly Co Team is here to support you every step of the way!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page