How to Find Backup Childcare in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
Plan ahead now for the inevitable days when your childcare may fall through.
Thank you to our friends at Lodgic Kids Camp for presenting this resource of how to find backup childcare in Champaign-Urbana and beyond. Lodgic’s uniquely flexible childcare has all the accreditation of traditional daycare, without the restrictions on your time or wallet. Lodgic Kids Camp provides top-quality care from fully qualified teachers across daytime, evenings, and weekends — and you only ever pay for what you use.
If you’re a working parent, you know what a hardship it can be when schools and daycares are closed, whether for snow, cold, heat, a water main breakage, illness …. the possibilities are endless.
And as much as work-life balance is more in vogue – with employers using flexible workplaces as a benefit – the reality is that unexpected childcare lapses can be vexing and challenging for workers and employers alike.
So what do you do, especially when you don’t have family available in the area? Well, the first thing is first: If you are trying to figure out what to do with the kids after you’ve heard that school has been called off or the sitter is closed, you’re putting yourself behind the proverbial eight ball. Preparing for an unexpected day off school or daycare means, well, preparing — in advance.
These tips can be used for Champaign-Urbana parents but are really universal. In all these suggestions, the goal is keeping kids safe, so you may want to do some due diligence first, not matter the option.
1) Share some of the childcare burden with friends. It takes a village, right? Find another school or daycare parent you trust to share the burden. Perhaps you can work in the morning, while s/he takes over in the afternoon. Or if it looks like more than one day will be out, trade days.
2) Network with friends and neighbors who are home during the day. Whether they are staying home with kids or work from home, discuss with your friends or neighbors if they would be available to take in your children for the day. In return, you could offer childcare for his/her children at a later date (or bake lots of brownies). There may be other ways to barter.
3) Look into drop-in care at a local childcare center. That’s where Champaign’s Lodgic Kids Camp can fill a gap, as a pay-by-the-hour option that is fully licensed and cares for children from age 1 to 12. Be prepared by heading to Lodgic and filling out the registration paperwork and providing any info needed about your child, so all you need to do is show up. Other centers may provide this as an option for school-age children; pre-registration requirements are common at most centers, so regardless of what local childcare center you choose, call them and ask how they address drop-in care – and if there’s any paperwork you might need to file in advance.
4) Check out home daycare options in your area. Find a suitable home daycare in your neighborhood that might be willing to take in extra kids. Especially in the case of snow, not everyone is able to travel as far, so the home daycare may have capacity. Negotiate a rate in advance so you’re not surprised.
5) Seek out an older child (high schooler preferably) who also is out of school. Perhaps there is a reliable high schooler in your neighborhood who has babysitting training and/or experience. Ideally, you would try out this sitter before the event of a snow day. As one person wrote, “their parents would like be grateful for them to have somewhere to be …” Again, prepare for this kind of arrangement.
6) Check with your employer about your options and childcare benefits. If it’s an option for your role, make sure to have the conversation with your employer well in advance about their policies for working from home. Though not common, more and more employers are now offering backup childcare resources for their employees. This includes major employers such as Starbucks, Best Buy and Target.
7) Don’t dismiss retired folk. Perhaps you know of a neighbor or member of your faith community who is retired but interested in taking care of children on a drop-in basis, or would be willing to come to your home. Be up front about arranging a payment or compensation plan.
8) Find a backup sitter who is in college; University of Illinois/Parkland students can be an invaluable resource. We have a plethora of backup sitters in our midst with flexible weekday schedules: University of Illinois or Parkland students. Perhaps you found them when looking for a sitter for the occasional night out (we have lots of ideas for that).