Parents struggle with Quebec daycare web portal

A new web portal for Quebec parents is supposed to simplify finding spots for children, but many say the government service is unhelpful so far.

The online service was supposed to be available by June 2014, but some parents still can’t register

Cornelia Brack can't register her 7-month-old son Alexander on Quebec's new daycare web portal. (CBC)

A new web portal for Quebec parents is supposed to simplify finding spots for children, but many say the government service is unhelpful so far.

"I wasn't actually able to log in. I wasn't able to look at anything. I wasn't able to go back and edit my own profile. I wasn't able to see the daycares that are in my area," Cornelia Brack told CBC.

The web portal, which is funded by the Quebec government, is a tool for parents who wish to register their children in daycare.

On the site, parents can add their names to several waiting lists at a time.

Brack set up a profile on an older version of the site, but was no longer able to access it on the updated one, called La Place 0-5 One-Stop Service. She said she tried creating a new profile, but the site did not grant her permission.

This means basic requests, such as adding or subtracting daycare centres to the list of those she's watching, are unavailable online for now, she said.

Brack called the company running the site, CoopérativeEnfance-Famille. She said, as a new mother, making changes to her profile over the phone with a representative was not easy.

"No matter what it is that I have to do, I have a limited window of opportunity to do anything, so then I have to distract [my son], or feed him, or change his diaper, or do something else," she said.

Too much data

Coopérative Enfance-Famille told CBC parents who were previously registered on their old website will soon find their profiles on the new one.

General manager Marie-Claude Sévigny said there was simply too much data to transfer over to the new portal.

Its older site contained databases for daycares in the Montreal, Lanaudière, central Quebec and Mauricie regions.

"We needed to develop not only the database itself, but the site as well — the look and feel of it," Sévigny said, adding that  the new portal will include information for daycares across the province by the end of 2015.

Coopérative Enfance-Famille obtained a contract from Quebec last December for the site. The previous PartiQuébécois government said last year the project would launch in June 2014.

For now, Sévigny is asking parents already registered on the older site to be patient.

"It's shut down but at the same time we're not stopping service," she said. "Customer service can really answer to parents. You know, sometimes it's even more fun to talk to somebody instead of going on the platform."

Sévigny said older profiles will be available on La Place 0-5 One-Stop Service in a few weeks.

The provincial government also maintained there are no delays in the work.

Family Minister Francine Charbonneau told CBC the new portal will put an end to parents having to put their names on individual daycare lists.

"We thought that having a lot of places [for parents] to give their names, to give their preference, ask for information, was more complicated than anything. So...having only one phone call to do, one place to call, one place to ask, should be easier for the parents," she said.

For now, La Place 0-5 One-Stop Service only functions in French. Charbonneau said the site will be available in English by July.


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