Creating a Backup Child Care Plan
Families need a backup child care plan for those times when regular child care arrangements become unavailable due to illness, weather, vacations or unexpected circumstances.
Backup Care Options
Time-Off from Work Alternatives
Talk with your employer about time-off options. Become familiar with polices regarding sick time, working from home or flex hour arrangements. Find out if your employer offers any company sponsored backup child care options. Spouses/partners in two-parent families should both explore time-off alternative with their employer and decide who might be able to stay home when.
Relatives and Friends
Consider which relatives, friends or neighbors might be available to help you on an emergency basis. Talk with them about when and under what circumstances they might be able to help. Also talk with other parents to see if they could care for your child in exchange for you caring for their child on an alternate day or time.
Some communities have specialized centers for children who are mildly-ill with a cold or flu. Visiting nurse services, home health care or other in-home caregiver services may also be available for children who are ill and need to stay home.
Talk with Your Regular Provider
Your regular child care provider may already have a alternate care plan in place or may be able suggest someone who can provide care on a temporary basis. Ask about policies for ill children, scheduled closed days and substitute care. Also discuss your need to have as much advance notice as possible.
Arrange for more than one backup care arrangement
Alternate care that might work for a snow day may not work when your child is ill, so arrange for a combination of options.
Visit backup sites and meet alternate child care providers ahead of time.
Both you and your child will feel more comfortable if you've visited the alternate care location and provider beforehand. Even though this care is only temporary, you will want make sure that your child will be safe, healthy and comfortable.
Find out what forms and information a drop-in location or alternative care option will need to care for your child.
Make a List of Your Options
Compile a list of the backup care options you've contacted that includes phone numbers, hours/days of operation, and what kind of care they can provide.
Keep Documents and Contact Information Handy
Create a portable file that you can grab quickly that includes copies of birth certificates, immunization records, family phone numbers,/addresses and emergency contacts.
Create a "Get to Know Me" Profile for Your Child
Help your backup care provider get to know your child. Provide them with information about your child's sleep patterns, favorite foods and activities they enjoy. It is also important to include information about any health concerns, such as allergies or asthma. Be sure to make updates to this information as your child grows and their likes/dislikes change.