Finding childcare is a daunting challenge for parents in Alberta. It’s not just the cost, it’s finding a spot.

Ryan McGrath and Tanya Gladwell faced that times two when they were looking to place their 18-month-old twins, Ceira and Colby, in care so both parents could work.

The couple initially wanted a licensed facility because compared to a private dayhome, there are mandatory standards and government oversight.

But they couldn’t find a centre that would accommodate their toddlers and were put on multiple waiting lists.

“It was a huge challenge. Our second option was to start looking for dayhomes, which sounded all great from the people we spoke to,” said Ryan McGrath, the twins’ father.

The province says there is only space for 27 per cent of children up to five-years-old.

A report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reveals that about half of Canadian children live in child care deserts, which are areas where three or more children are competing for one spot in a licensed daycare.

The CCPA says about three quarters of licensed centres in Calgary and half in Edmonton have a wait list.

Many parents, like the McGraths, who can’t find a licensed spot, feel they have no choice but to turn to the private market.

Ceira died in a private day home in 2015. Her caregiver was later charged and convicted in the toddler’s death.

"She was beautiful and adventurous hungry to learn more about life cute little thing,” said Ryan.

“We still in many ways can't believe she is gone.”