West LA infant care
July 25, 2013 8:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find an infant daycare in West Los Angeles - and I've applied to 2 places (with a total of 4 locations), but evidently the wait lists are somewhere between 1 and 3 years. At which point my future child will no longer be an infant, and also I need to go to work. LA parents, please help a clueless newbie!

Our baby is due in early January, so we're looking for something between 3 days a week and full time infant care starting around the end of March 2014. I will need to be at work full-time M-F once my leave ends and, my husband can be home part-time after that, 1-2 days a week.

Parents of LA, how have you made this work? Do you just get on the waitlists and hope for the best and it usually comes through? Are there alternate arrangements I should be looking into? Can anyone point me to good infant care programs in West Los Angeles/Santa Monica, or other resources I can follow up on? My husband is employed by UCLA, so we're already on the list there (the 1-3 year wait...) and another private place nearby that gives priority to UCLA employees. Are there other places a UCLA affiliation will help us? We'd prefer a center over in-home nanny care or similar.
posted by annie o to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Former ECE parent here - it sounds like you've applied to the UCLA ECE system, but have you also applied to the IDP? I'm assuming the private place you're referring to is Bright Horizons?

Spots at ECE tend to open up in the late spring and throughout the summer, in my experience, but I would keep in touch with them and let them know you still want a spot.

We actually got called twice for a spot at ECE, the first time when our daughter was about 8 months old. We had just gotten her settled in a fantastic family home daycare, so we asked them to keep us on the list for preschool, and they called us back almost exactly two years later. FWIW, the preschool program was amazing and totally worth it.

I would strongly recommend you look at a licensend family home daycare. Have you or your husband been to the Child care resource program? I found it very helpful and the coordinator is very knowledgeable about local providers. If you come across a possible name or center, you can run it by her and she may have some additional info for you. She said great things about our provider, which really reassured me.
posted by mogget at 9:22 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel you. I just went through this. Unfortunately the infant daycare situation on the westside is just as terrible as you're perceiving; there's no secret daycare system out there that people are keeping quiet about. My personal infant is starting at one of the Bright Horizons in Santa Monica in a few weeks and I was indeed on the waitlist for a year.

It seems like most of my coworkers don't get it together to waitlist that early, and either they have wives who stay at home, they hire nannies, or they end up in smaller in-home daycares which tend to have more openings on short notice. They just require a lot more legwork, since most of them don't have websites, answer email, etc.

If you haven't already looked at Santa Monica much, the bigger centers that I applied to were the two Bright Horizons locations, as well as Hill 'n' Dale and Growing Place (I don't make regular commitments east of the 405). I have coworkers who had their kids at the SM YMCA and really liked it, but we had daycare tour fatigue by then and didn't bother. For what it's worth, Hill 'n' Dale offered me a spot starting about eight months after I applied, so maybe you'll have a chance there, and Growing Place never offered me a spot at all - but I took myself out of their waitpool in June as I'd already got a spot elsewhere. There's also Les Enfants which I toured, but I didn't hit it off with their director so I didn't apply. Still, check them out, because the thing about Les Enfants is you can pay a big chunk of money in advance and commit to a space right then, which removes the uncertainty. If you like their style that might be a good solution.

Best of luck! Memail me if you'd like any additional info about any of these daycares or just want to vent about how hard this is.
posted by town of cats at 9:48 PM on July 25, 2013

Oh, another detail, Hill 'n' Dale and Growing Place both offer priority registration to SM residents and city employees because they are city subsidized. In effect this means if you don't live in Santa Monica the probability you'll end up in one of those daycares is very low. So if you have limited time to waste touring daycares, and you don't live in SM city limits, may not want to bother.
posted by town of cats at 10:05 PM on July 25, 2013

A lot of my friends on the Westside have gone the nanny route, until 18mos or 2yo, for just this reason. They have used Sitter City or Care.com. They have had to sift through lots (lots!) of applications, found a few they wanted to interview, then did sort of trial runs where the nanny hangs out at the house with the kid while you are home, in order to find the right person. So it takes a time commitment but you can find someone really good, they all did.

Are you also employed on the Westside? Because if you work a little farther afield, it might be worth it to you to find a daycare closer to your work.

Just an fyi; for in-home daycares, I believe the legal ratio is 1 caregiver to 8 children, presumably the ages of the children are mixed. If you go with a daycare school type setting, the legal ratios are 1:4 for infants, 1:8 for (crawlers, not sure of the age) to 2, and 1:12 for 2yo and up.

And congratulations!
posted by vignettist at 8:13 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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