The introduction of full-day kindergarten was supposed to help ease daycare crunches in Waterloo Region and across the province.

But despite about 75 per cent of Ontario kids aged 4 and 5 now spending their whole day in school – an age group that half of all child care spaces were dedicated to when the program was launched – a common refrain remains in place.

“We don’t have enough licensed child care in Waterloo Region,” says Nancy Dickieson, director of children’s services for the Region of Waterloo.

Despite that current shortfall, Dickieson says efforts are being made to get younger students into daycares.

“We have a plan that plays out over the next couple of years,” she says.

“We’re hoping that will create a significant shift as those spaces gradually end and the new, younger age groupings open up.”

Full-day kindergarten was announced in October 2009.

In addition to educational advantages, it was expected to free up spaces in daycares for younger students, as older students would no longer need daycare.

Older students were expected to spend time before and after the school day, if they couldn’t go home, in school-run programs.

Local school boards jumped at the chance and offer before- and after-school programs.

“We’ve got these beautifully resourced rooms that we’re building – they’re fully equipped, they’re ready to go, why should they be empty at 3:30?” says Scott Podrebarac, an early learning administrator at the Waterloo Region District School Board.

Waterloo Catholic District School Board spokesperson John Shewchuk notes that the service isn’t offered at all schools, only those with sufficient demand.

“There’s a tipping point there where you have to decide if you can afford to actually run it,” he says.”

The arrival of those programs meant the boards had to hire a significant number of early childhood educators.

At Conestoga College, enrollment in early childhood education programs has doubled over the past six years.

This year, approximately 500 students are enrolled in the program.

CTV’s Lee Boyadjian is looking at the state of daycare in Waterloo Region in a special series this week on CTV News.