Like car insurance, back up child care is something all working parents need but hope they never have to use.
Taking the proper steps to ensure that your children will be cared for by a competent caregiver that you trust can go a long way in reducing panic, anxiety and stress when you are forced to put your plan into action.
When formulating your back up child care plan, keep these tips in mind:
1. Know your companies policies and procedures.
Some companies have contracts with emergency care providers that give employees preferred access to back up child care at discounted rates. Other employers allow parents to use sick or personal time to care for an ill child. Still others have onsite centers that keep a few spots open each day for mildly ill children or children who need back up child care. If your company doesn't assist parents in securing emergency backup care, consider reaching out to your human resources department and asking them to implement one.
2. Call on family and friends.
Let family and friends know that you are devising an emergency child care back up plan and ask them if you can include them on your list of emergency contacts. Let them know what time you would be calling, how long you'd need coverage and what would be involved. Assure them you'd provide everything they'd need, including supplies and a detailed list of information (that you have prepared in advance).
3. Have a pool of prescreened babysitters at the ready.
Having four or five babysitters that you have previously screened and used can be a real asset when back up care is needed. Other parents, church members and friends can often provide a referral to reputable babysitters.
4. Sign-up with a back up provider.
Some center based day care centers like Bright Horizons offer back up care programs. Local home day care providers in your area may also offer emergency care. Contact your local child care resource and referral agency for referrals to licensed and reputable back-up care providers.
5. Enroll with a babysitting service.
Many nanny placement agencies also place emergency care providers. If using a babysitting service, opt for one that is a member of the International Nanny Association or the Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies.
If you are a working parent that employs a nanny or sends your child to day care or school, chances are that sooner or later, you may need to make alternative last minute child care arrangements. Whether your child's normal provider is sick, your child comes down with a cold and can't attend school or your child's school or daycare unexpectedly closes for the day, having a plan already in place will reduce the stress and anxiety that comes along with making last minute plans for your child when you have to show up for work.