Finding Childcare in Calgary

11 February 2020


I've been navigating the childcare terrain in Calgary since moving here in 2011 and we're not done yet. With 8+ years of this hustle in the bag, I thought I'd put a few guidelines together.

Childcare Choices in Calgary

The first step is to determine the childcare choice that is most attractive to your family. The options that are available include dayhomes, daycare centers and nannies or au pairs. Each option comes with it’s advantages, disadvantages and costs.

Childcare Costs in Calgary

Dayhomes: In this situation, the provider is offering childcare in their own home. The province regulates the number of children that can be taken in at any one time. This is usually the cheapest childcare option available in Calgary and costs run from $150 to $500 per child per week depending on the provider's qualifications, location etc. There are also a handful of Dayhome Agencies that take care of licensing and regulating a number of independently-owned dayhomes.

Daycare Centers: These are centers that provide various childcare services. They are more expensive than dayhomes and their prices are typically fixed based on the age of the child with infants being most expensive. Most centers charge upwards of $1000 a month with some charging up to $2900 monthly for infants. Centers located downtown are the most expensive.

Nannies: Nannies are usually the most expensive option as they have to be paid the provincial minimum wage which is currently $15 per hour in 2019. If the nanny resides in your home the government allows a small deduction for rent and the minimum wage is currently ~$2800 monthly. If there are more than 3 kids requiring childcare, hiring a nanny could be an attractive cost proposition.

Subsidies: The government does provide subsidies for families that meet certain criteria. See the link at the end of this post for more details on qualifying for this subsidy. Note that not all dayhome providers will accept subsidized families or issue tax receipts.

Choosing Location

Next step will be to determine the location where you’d like your childcare to be. A nanny can live in your home or come in daily. If you work downtown, you may want to consider one of the daycares in downtown Calgary. If you live in a large suburb, you may find more dayhomes within close proximity of your home. If you’re a student, you may want to find out if your school has a daycare that prioritizes kids of students and staff members.


Not all childcare providers are licensed by the government. View the government website for a list of approved and licensed providers. Unlicensed care is often cheaper, but peace of mind is the price to pay.

Finding Childcare

Use the search engines to find daycare centers in your particular area of interest

Use the government lookup tool to find licensed and approved care

Use to find advertised dayhomes and nanny care

Use a nanny or au pair agency to get a nanny placement

Infant Care

Infant care is very hard to find in Calgary. This is most likely attributable to the "Employment Insurance" that makes it possible for most families to take up to 50 weeks of paid maternity/parental leave. A lot of the centers that I called had long waiting lists to fill spaces for infants under 19 months. This is further complicated by the fact that there's only a handful of centers that will accept children under 19 months. My advice? Start your search early. Call the center and be prepared to visit even if you're told on the phone that there are no openings. You'll find that sometimes if you can speak to the center's manager, they may be able to move things around to accommodate your kid or refer you to another center that has a spot. I found that when it came to finding infant childcare in Calgary, facetime counts for a lot.

Don't live in Calgary? Most major cities have childcare services similar to what I've listed above. Have fun!

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