When you decided to seek child care, you locate the "best matched" provider for your child. You took the time to research programs, visit staff, and ask all the right questions. You were able to make your decision and now you're ready to go. But have you thought of everything?
You have the formula, diapers, a favorite blankie for naps, and an extra set of clothes. Do you have a back up plan? Regardless of your child care setting, family child care or center-based, it is important to think about a back up child care plan before you need one. There may be times when you know your provider will not be available and there will be times when your provider may have to be closed on short notice due to illness or an emergency.
To avoid last-minute searches for back up child care, have a plan in place when you start with your primary child care provider. Here are some helpful hints:
- Check with your provider. Your child care provider may have information about back up child care that they suggest or have made arrangements with.
- Plan ahead. Know your provider's schedule. Make note of dates they will be closed (holidays and vacations). These may have been included in the parent handbook or contract. While you can not predict illness, you can be prepared for the planned closures.
- Have more than one back up. You may have family in the area willing to help out from time to time. There may be a stay-at-home mother who has mentioned that she's available if you ever need someone. Create a list of those willing to help out when back up care is needed.
- Will your employer help out? Check to see if there are any back up child care programs available through your company. Some employers may offer on-site back up care that employees are able to access. There are also companies that have designated "back up spots" at child care centers within the community. Depending on your job, you may be able to work out a telecommuting arrangement while your provider is closed.
- Back up is not just back up. When locating a back up provider take the same steps you did in your initial search. Ask the questions, conduct the interviews, visit the location, and ask for references. A temporary solution can still leave a lasting impact on your child. You want to make sure you and your child are both comfortable with the arrangement you select.