Before & After School Childcare Choices
By America’s Nanny Michelle LaRowe – You’ve been looking forward to the time where you would no longer need full time childcare.
The season where your daughter would be enjoying her time at school, learning new skills and making new friends while you could work and keep more of the funds you earn, since paying for full time day care won’t be needed anymore.
Perhaps you spent the summer before kindergarten preparing for the first day of school: shopping for clothes, a new lunch box and the other gadgets and gizmos that mark the big day you and she anticipated coming. Your daughter is officially a big girl now.
And you’re officially entering into The Childcare Gap.
The childcare gap is the type of caring coverage that parents of school-aged children need: the gap of time from two or three in the afternoon — when the kids get out of school — until about five or six in the evening, when most parents return from their day at work.
It’s only a few hours, so finding childcare to cover this time should be easy, right? Wrong. Securing quality childcare for such a limited time can be tough. The twenty or so hours of care a week needed are just enough to need a consistent arrangement, but are often not enough hours to secure a slot in a quality program, or enough hours/pay for a caregiver to be willing to sacrifice their personal schedule to commit to a regular in-home childcare arrangement.
You’ll also have to factor in the transportation issue. Say you’ve found the perfect program across town from the elementary school. Now you’ll need to figure out how to get your child there. Does the school offer transportation? Does the program have a pick up service?
As you can quickly see, finding gap coverage has its challenges.
Let’s begin take a look at the chart below, showing several viable childcare options for working mothers who are looking for gap coverage.It shows the average cost and suggestions for what works best for a variety of needs.
Childcare Choices for Out of School Hours
Works best for Moms that
$449 to $7160 per year, per child
Have a workday that ends before the program does
Free and up
Usually paid per visit
(Geared toward middle-schoolers and up, exempt programs are drop- in programs, where each facility has its own set of “house rules” (unlike licensed programs which are required to confirm to certain regulations)and does not require student registration. Billed as “a safe place to hang out,” these programs are often housed in a community centers or churches and provide general supervision for the attendees du jour.(
Have older, independent children that need basic supervisory care
Nanny – $12-20 per hour
Babysitters -$5-$15 per hour
Au Pair – room & board plus $140 weekly stipend
Relative, Friend or Family -free and up
Need flexible coverage and want customizedchildcare
That have an independent, responsible child age 12 and up
Depends on arrangements
That have a great network of reliable support and a limitedbudget
If a licensed program seems attractive to you, you can find more information by checking out The National Afterschool Association (www.naaweb.org) or your local Childcare Resource and Referral Agency (www.childcareaware.org).Safe Kids (www.safekids.org) is a great resource and can help you determine if your child may be ready to stay home alone,as well give you information on how to prepare your child for that stage of self-responsibility.
Whatever type of gap coverage you choose, be sure to do your homework and choose a qualified provider and program that is a good fit for your family.
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