Is an after-school child care job right for you?
I found my first after-school child care position when I was taking morning classes for my degree and working odd lunchtime hours for another family. I knew I needed some extra income, but many jobs I considered couldn’t fit into my schedule.
Fortunately, I found a family who needed an after-school provider for their 11-year-old daughter. The position began at 3 p.m. and ended at 6:30 p.m. each day, fitting perfectly into my schedule, the pay was fair and the girl was sweet as could be. I accepted the job, not knowing that it would become one of my favorite — and longest — positions. This after-school care job lasted nearly six years and allowed me to finish my degree, care for other children and support my own new family.
With today’s modern working family, after-school child care is a real need and can be a great job opportunity for caregivers who need the flexibility traditional jobs don’t offer. Whether you’re a student or a caregiver juggling multiple gigs, here’s what you need to know about after-school care jobs.
The basics of after-school care
According to the Afterschool Alliance, there may be as many as 15 million kids who need after-school care in the U.S., so these positions are in high demand. They can vary by family and school, but here are some of the after-school scenarios you might find:
Generally, after-school care jobs start “after school” — typically at about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. For a family with a child in half-day kindergarten, this could mean the job starts as early as 11 a.m. or noon.
An after-school position may require driving to separate schools if a family has children of different ages or chaperoning children home from the bus stop.
Depending on the parents’ jobs, an after-school child care provider may only have to stay for a few hours until “traditional” 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. hours end.
Other parents who work later hours may need a babysitter or nanny to stay longer, possibly until after the children go to bed.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which type of position (and schedule) you’d like to find and accept.
Deciding if after-school care is right for you
There are a number of benefits to finding an after-school child care job. These positions are a great way to work around other part-time morning jobs or your own school schedule, if you’re seeking a degree or formal training during regular school hours.
If you’re considering an after-school care position, it’s important to know exactly what the job entails. Christa Doyle, lead teacher and director of a preschool in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, says: “Know what is expected of you and consider whether or not you can, or even want to, meet those expectations.”
That goes for any child care job, Doyle says, but it’s especially important when it comes to helping families during the hours after school. After all, there is a lot to be done between when a child gets out of school and when their parents come home.
Before you dive in headfirst to look for after-school jobs, consider whether it’s right for you.
Sydney Naylor, a child care program coordinator from Broomfield, Colorado, says an after-school provider needs “patience and an understanding of what it is like to teach and help a child grow. You are taking care of the most important things in the world and your heart needs to be in it.”
You definitely want to make sure it’s a role — and a schedule — you enjoy.
Typical after-school care provider responsibilities
If an after-school gig sounds right for you, you need to consider what services you will offer families during those hours. After-school care can involve a mix of child care, transportation, tutoring, housekeeping and even some household management.
Examples of after-school services you may include:
After-school pickup (using your or the family’s vehicle)
Transportation to and from after-school activities
Playtime or activities at home
Some “extra” services you may offer for an additional cost could include:
Housekeeping (during child care hours or to fill extra hours during the day)
Pet care (dog walking, cat box cleaning, meals, vet visits, etc.)
Dinner prep (grocery shopping, creating menus, and/or cooking)
Special needs care
Child care for multiple families by starting an after-school nanny share
All-day care on days school is out, which can include spring and winter breaks, holidays, in-service days, snow days and summer break.
Where to find an after-school gig
When it comes to finding after-school child care jobs, where do you look? And how do you spread the word about your services? The good news is parents with school-age children love having a network of care available to them, so you may have an “in” already.
Ask your network or family friends if they need help with their children after school, or if they know anyone who does. You may also find a few “fill-in” positions, where a nanny is sick or on leave and a family needs temporary care for their kids. Taking on some evening and weekend babysitting gigs is another way to get your name out there and connect with new families.
Other ways to share your availability for after-school care include:
Social media. “Finding your neighborhood’s Facebook group is another great way to find nearby families who need after-school care,” says Rebecca Webb, a child care provider from Tucker, Georgia.
Online job sites. Set up or update your professional profile on job sites, including caregiver-specific sites.
Community boards. Post your nanny or babysitting offerings to your neighborhood, church or school bulletin boards to advertise your services.
Specialized organizations. If you have specialized child care skills, check out the local chapters of relevant organizations in your area. Child care providers with experience caring for children with ADHD and other executive function challenges are “gems,” says Erin Koerselman, founder of Honestly ADHD Parenting Academy — and they’re in high demand.
Wherever you decide to share your services, make sure to include your name, years of experience and a good phone number or email to reach you. Make sure to list your availability to work after-school hours and any relevant services, such as tutoring and transportation.
Expand your skill set
While you wait for that perfect after-school gig to come along, Leigh Aberle, of Family First Travel Nannies, recommends that you “continue [your] education by staying up to date on CPR and first aid training. Maybe take some classes on meal prep, and tutoring experience is always a plus!”
Continue to build your resume while you search so that you can have some great experience and new skills to bring to your after-school care interview.