The Dandelion Daycare Co-op is made up of families who work cooperatively to build a childcare space for our children that is nurturing, creative, playful, and based on principles of social justice. Integral to the Co-op is the commitment of all members to provide healthy, quality, home-like care, which results in an environment that kids of diverse ages can thrive in. All kinds of families and family compositions are welcome.
The Co-op is about our children - their basic needs and rights are our main concern. The aim is to encourage self-confidence while meeting the unique needs of each child within the context of the whole group. We try to ensure that the programming, activities and atmosphere serve every child's needs.
The children's freedom to develop in their own unique way and the democratic participation of parents along with staff in the running of the Co-op are central to our philosophy.
While we are not technically a co-operative, our space features strong parental involvement where every family plays a part in our day-to-day operations.
In addition, we are not a licensed daycare but operate our space as, according to the definition in the Ontario Day Nurseries Act, informal child care.
Dandelion Daycare Cooperative is located in the Bloor and Dovercourt neighborhood in Toronto's West End.
The Dandelion Daycare Coop was founded in September of 2007 by a group of progressive parents who were interested in being active participants in the day-to-day raising of their children and collectively exploring issues of social justice and community building.
They were inspired by other neighbourhood-based daycare co-ops such as Dover Gardens and the Share who also gave support in the early stages though consultation and donations.
Early planning meetings included all the kids, which helped to develop a sense of community among the families. This has continued throughout the life of the co-op through meetings, duty days and celebrations but also through socializing during drop off and pick up.
The original location was in one of the member’s basement apartment, which was converted into the daycare space. The name “Dandelion” was chosen because of its natural/environmental connotations, but also because everyone seemed to like the idea of a “beautiful weed”.
“Cooperative” was also incorporated into the name to reflect the community-based, co-operative nature of the project.
With a little help from their 'duty kid,' today's duty parent will make sure the space is set up and ready for everyone else to arrive.
Anytime after 8:15AM, the kids bring in their parents, then send them off while they play. Our ECE worker gets here at the same time, ready to start the day and follow their lead, anticipating what they might want to be up to that day. In the meantime, the duty team makes sure snack is ready to go.
The vegetarian diet at Dandelion includes a range of unrefined foods: whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low amounts of salt, sugar, and additives. Parents try to bring organic and local. Oh yeah, and keep it tasty, too!
Our staff and parents make sure kids are ready to head outside to play and explore the turf around Bloor and Dovercourt. From sunscreen and hats in the summer to mitts and toques in the winter, the kids get ready to be out and about.
Dandelion outings range far and wide, taking in Bob Abate CC and Christie Pits to the east, Bloor-Gladstone Library and Dufferin Grove to the west, and all kinds of parks and spaces in between. Occasionally, and with help from other parents, we've even made trips to Toronto Island and Scadding Court CC (trout fishing!)
Our Dandelion recipe blog offers ideas for nutritious and delicious vegetarian lunches, from curried veggie soup to rice pasta and tomato veggie sauce, banana muffins to gourmet pizzas.
After lunch, diaper changes and/or trips to the potty are followed by some down time (books, songs, stories) as the kids prepare for a nap.
Parents and staff use the quiet to grab a coffee, clean up some dishes, or even catch a nap and recharge after an especially busy morning.
A snack, a diaper change/washroom visit, and then some more informal programming, whether in the space or outside (depending on where the kids' interests seem to be).
Parents ask their child about her or his day, chat with the duty parent and learn from the staff about concerns. Often, some playing is involved before a thanks and bye. Meanwhile, the duty parent attends to chores to ready the space for the next day's adventures.
Duty Parent meetings are every other month unless specifically requested. Duty parents will meet with staff to address concerns, learn new things and propose improvements to duty days as a way to strengthen the parent/staff relationship and collaboratively create the richest childcare environment possible for their children.
About once every month, parents all meet to address the concerns required to keep the daycare up and running.
We welcome a wide range of families at Dandelion. Currently, we have parents who are public school teachers, graduate students, artists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, photographers and small business owners. Most of our current families have one or two children. Many live in the Bloor and Dovercourt area, while others come from other west end Toronto neighbourhoods to be part of Dandelion.
Children can attend Dandelion starting at 18 months of age.
The Dandelion Co-op was the best care my children could have had outside our home. It was like a home away from home for our kids, in fact, for our whole family. The extensive creative and outdoor play was so perfect for their age and stage. Four years later, our daughters still share a close relationship with their Co-op friends, which we hope will carry on for years to come.
— Hilary and Jonni
I am very grateful to have had the exceptional experience of being part of the Dandelion Co-op. I can't say enough here. My son Roy from an early age became very close with the other kids, and significantly, also with their parents and families. This connection has continued so that as a five year old, and an only child, he has very good “old” friends, entire families, that he's known very well since he was two. I loved doing duty at the co-op. Meaghan La Croix is exceptional in her work. She is wonderful with the children and has created a beautiful fun space. I loved the high quality food. I also loved being part of running the co-op; going to meetings, building the thing together with the other parents. The time required to do duty and be a part of running the co-op was well worth the quality of the experience. I highly recommend joining!
Our family was part of the Dandelion Co-op for a year and a half. During that time, our daughter Sienna learned to play and interact with a very diverse group of children and parents. We all grew so much from our experience there. We became part of a very compassionate, progressive and intelligent community of families from whom we learned a great deal about parenting and with whom we shared many of our parenting joys and challenges. Sienna grew into herself and was encouraged to participate in activities that she was passionate about, as well as express her individuality. Though it was hard work at times, we all had a lot of fun and made lasting friendships. Dandelion provided an experience for our children that you could not find in any other childcare setting.