You wake up early. Not 5am early, but earlier than you might have, and at 7 o’clock sharp, when registration for City of Toronto programs opens, you are ready. The computer is on, the coffee is brewed and steaming on its coaster, the ‘Fun Guide’ open to a certain page in front of you. You click on the link to add the class to your ‘shopping cart.’ Instead of enrolling your child in the course, the website asks you to provide a ‘Family Number’ and also a ‘Client Number’ (see slideshow). There is only one way to acquire these codes, and that is to phone a certain number at the city – which begins taking calls at 8:30.
The trouble is that this number will be flooded with calls each new registration day, meaning that it could take many calls as well as time spent on hold before the necessary numbers can be set up, and programs registered it. It does help a little that once the numbers are acquired, the same city staff-person can register you or your child for programs immediately. However, if it is 9 or 10 o’clock on the first day of registration, the program you had in mind, or at least the particular time slot of the program, may be full.
A real attempt can be seen in the ‘Fun Guide’ to make the need for the family and client numbers clear. It is mentioned twice on the first page of the registration section; once in the body of the text with a bold heading, and later offset in a different colour as a special note. The problem is that very few of us actually read this section, figuring rightly that the process is for the most part easy and intuitive once you know the program you are interested in.
Ultimately, the only thing that a family can do to ensure that their preschooler will get into that particularly desired class or program is to do exactly what the parent does in the example above – but with one difference. Calling the city on the previous day to get the necessary codes practically guarantees the early riser their pick of programs. The rest of us must stay on the wait list with our fingers crossed, or compromise. That, and learn the lesson!