5 Options for Backup Care
Find child care solutions to avoid last-minute scrambling when plans change.
When parents work, they have child care in place to look after their kids. But what happens when those usual arrangements go awry? Your regular nanny goes on vacation, calls in sick or quits unexpectedly; schools and day cares are on vacation or there's a snow day; your child is sick and can't go to school; or you have to work late or on a weekend.
These are all very real scenarios that happen to everyone. But your kids still have to be taken care of and you still have to get to work. It's frustrating, and can cause total panic. But here are five places to turn to find suitable backup care -- whether it's last minute or weeks in advance.
Many employers offer regular day care or backup care as a benefit. Check with your employer to see what options are available; some are free or low-cost for employees, some require first-come-first-served registration and some are available only during school breaks. Click here to find out more about getting backup care as a company benefit.
Hire a backup nanny through a nanny-finding website (um, like Care.com). You can quickly find caregivers who are available on short notice. But even though it's last minute, make sure you still take the time to interview candidates and review background checks and references.
Your Local Day Care
Day care centers sometimes provide space for a child in an emergency situation -- as long as they're not sick. Every center operates differently: some require pre-registration, others simply ask for a call ahead and some allow a child to be dropped off without any notice at all. Be sure to research nearby day cares and know what they require.
Learn more about finding the perfect day care »
If you are a member of a local community organization, such as a church, temple, YMCA or other cultural group, you may be in luck. Many of these groups offer backup care and run short-term camps during school breaks.
Your Friends and Family
Friends and family can be your most reliable resource. If you know a neighbor or have family members who live close by and are often home during the day, ask if they would be willing to be put on your list of last-minute sitters. Offer to exchange the favor in case they ever need backup care or a date night sitter!
No matter what you decide, it's always best to have a plan in place before an emergency arises. Call ahead to various centers and individuals and create a list of potential caregivers you can trust. Backup care doesn't need to be as stressful as it sounds -- if you plan ahead, both you and your family will be happier!
Jennifer Eberhart is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found here.
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