The Vancouver Society of Children's Centres operates 11 daycares, including Dorothy Lam and Library Square.
Spokesperson Sandra Menzer says the wait list has grown to more than 2,300 children. She says the list has become difficult to administer, and only a fraction of parents who pay the $50-fee will actually get a spot.
"This was an additional burden for families that we felt we could take off of them," she said. "Families are on five, 10, 15 childcare lists as they are waiting for spaces."
When the society introduced the $50-fee, it was aimed at keeping wait lists from ballooning out of control. But the fee hasn’t stopped parents from signing up at several licensed childcare facilities throughout the city.
"Families need childcare. There is a huge demand, there is a huge need for childcare," Menzer said.
"It's not an affordable service. Families are paying an arm and a leg for childcare in this city and in the province … and we felt … we could take this additional piece off their plate."
The society estimates it will take months to track down all the parents on its list and refund their money. Menzer says many have moved or changed contact information as some parents have been on the list for more than four years.
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