Planning Ahead For Problems In Child Care

It's an all too familiar situation. Your child care provider phones in sick, or quits without a moment's notice. Your child becomes ill and they will not accept her at the daycare centre. Or, your family day home Mom has a bad case of the flu and cannot look after any children for a few days. What are you to do?

According to a study conducted by the Work and Family Institute (U.S.), in a typical three month period, 40 percent of all working parents experience some sort of breakdown in their child care arrangements. Recognizing the potential for such problems and establishing an alternate or backup care plan can save you a lot of stress and worry which can actually cause you to be less productive on the job.

Here are a few suggestions to help you establish backup child care arrangements.

    * Discuss the situation with your family and see if any of your relatives can help you out in a pinch. You might want to be certain they will look after your child even if he or she is mildly ill.
    * Talk to some of the stay-at-home Moms in your neighbourhood. Perhaps one of them can substitute on occasion.
    * Look around for another family day home provider who can offer you assistance on a moment's notice.
    * Call your local child care resource and referral agency (listed in your Yellow Pages under child or day care) to obtain a list of caregivers who provide sick child care, last minute care, or even casual care.
    * Talk to fellow employees about their backup arrangements. Perhaps you could share providers.
    * Ask your regular provider if she can recommend a substitute.


Once your alternate arrangements are established, you should take the time to visit with the provider. This is important for a number of reasons.

    * First, you don't ever want to leave your child in the care of someone you are unfamiliar with. It is simply too upsetting for your child and too dangerous.
    * Second, it gives you a chance to see how the provider gets along with the other children in her care and how well she cares for them. Even if your child is only in her care on occasion, you will want to feel comfortable with the arrangements. Your child's safety and well-being must take precedence over any quickly-found arrangements, no matter how badly they are needed.
    * It gives you and the provider a chance to get to know each other, to discuss child rearing techniques such as toilet training, discipline, manners and the likes. The better you communicate the better the provider can look after your child.

But what do you do if your provider calls you at work and tells you your child is ill and should be taken home, or that she herself is ill and unable to fulfill her duties for the day? What do you do then?

You should discuss the situation with your spouse and perhaps decide ahead of time who will take on the responsibility. Perhaps your mother or sister could pick up your child on these occasions. A child who is ill will feel much better with someone who loves them and will have the time to cuddle them.

These are definitely tough decisions to make but they are much easier to make now than when you are in a panic. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to child care problems. Being prepared to handle the unexpectancies will make life easier though. So if you haven't yet got one, now is the time to work out your backup plan.

Care for the Holidays

Finding care for your older children when school holidays roll around can be difficult, so grab your calendar, mark off the days you and your spouse will be home to care for the kids, then grab the phone book and contact your local YM/YWCA, Boys & Girls Club, 4H Cooperative Extensions, Parks Department, temporary child care agency, local daycare centre, or resource and referral agency to find out what programs they offer for the holidays, then decide which one will best suit your child. Perhaps you can share providers, find a qualified ECE or college student, or even bring your child to work with you.


The Daycare Alternative By Catherine M. Pruissen, CanDan Publishing Co., 1992
Choosing With Care By Brenda L. Sissons & Heather McDowall Black, Addison Wesley, 1991
The Daycare Handbook By Barbara Kaiser & Judy Sklar Rasminski, Little Brown & Co., 1991