It’s a fact of life for many Champaign-Urbana area families – some form of childcare is going to be needed to allow parents to work and to assist children engaged in remote learning
We cover how to find someone like a babysitter, nanny or other childcare provider to come to your home during the fall of 2020 while many area students are not in school their typical hours
One thing we know for sure during 2020 so far – flexibility is the name of the game. So when it comes to getting creative with how we structure our kids’ school day while we also work, there’s going to be some flexibility involved.
Usual before/after school programs may not be operating, let alone the school may be entirely or partially instructing remotely for the time being.
Add in the fact of the unpredictability in store for us in the coming months of COVID-19, and childcare concerns certainly rise to the top of the list for many area families. Let’s walk through how to find something that may work for you and your children.
For the purposes of this article, we are offering suggestions for how to find someone to come TO your home, generally speaking. If you are looking for childcare OUTSIDE of your home, please check out this article about programs being operated by businesses and area organizations.
Finding a Babysitter/Nanny/Tutor
For all of those situations we encounter as parents where it just makes the most sense to have someone watch our children in our home, you’re going to want to know how to find a babysitter in Champaign-Urbana.
COVID-19 adds an extra layer of consideration to all of these options.
In all these suggestions, the goal is keeping kids safe. It is perfectly reasonable to ask how someone is practicing social distancing, what their other jobs may be, and what their exposure risks are. Bringing someone into your home isn’t something we do lightly, even in the best of the times — it’s all the more complex now.
Before you start looking:
- Pinpoint your babysitter needs. What hours are you looking for someone? Will they watch your children every day or are there just 2 or 3 days a week you are looking for?
- Can you share a babysitter with another family? One trend we’re seeing emerge is two families (generally with similar schedules/needs/ages) teaming up to search for a sitter together. Is that something that may work for you? More in-depth info on searching for a babysitter available here. Also, how much should you pay them? Read the responses of area parents.
- Figure out who you want to take care of your children. Are you OK with a teenager? Or do you want a college student? Or perhaps someone who is older? (Generally the older/more experienced the sitter, the more expensive. How much to pay? Here’s what some people in Champaign-Urbana say. )
- Be honest with yourself about expectations. Want your sitter to assist your 6-year-old with learning remotely? What about tutoring your sixth grader while in your home? How about emptying the dishwasher? Then be ready to set that expectation with the person you will have in your home.
Child Care Resource Service (CCRS)
One place to start when looking for a babysitter in Champaign-Urbana: The Child Care Resource Service located in Urbana. CCRS is a program of the Department of Human and Community Development at the U of I. CCRS typically has a booklet that includes contact information for available students willing to do childcare in the child’s home. (We haven’t seen this for 2020 yet but hope it’s still a thing.)
Parents should call 217-333-3252 and go to option three to talk to get connected.
Important notes: remember that CCRS is also where you call to get assistance in paying for child care. CCRS also has a way to search for licensed daycare centers (both in-home and larger school-type centers).
You can check in with Nannyville, a local sitter service and nanny placement agency that specializes in connecting reliable-qualified caregivers with busy families. They have made adjustments to the structure of the business, as it is no longer safe for sitters to be hopping from home to home, so their sitters are working in no more than two homes during this period, and that is only if they are practicing social distancing and self-isolation when they are not at work.
Champaign-Urbana Childcare Connection Facebook Group
Another great resource online: The Champaign-Urbana Childcare Connection group on Facebook, which serves as a matchmaker for local sitters – from high school kids to college students to grownups.
Many more ideas
You might also consider posting an ad on Craigslist. The site has gotten a bad rap over the years but if you follow your instincts and follow up with reference checks, you could find the perfect fit for your family. Many of our area families also use Nextdoor.com to find local babysitters.
National websites like Sittercity.com and Care.com will allow you to peruse a list of potential caretakers for your children that includes information about their experience and references. The downside is it will cost you money to buy a membership; but there could be benefits, too.
Make your need for a sitter social media official and post an ad on your own social media channel of choice.
Don’t forget to look offline as well.
Ask around your (offline) networks. If you belong to a church/synagogue/mosque, perhaps there is a youth group there with kids who babysit. Or maybe a former teacher that isn’t currently teaching but looking for some work during this season.
Were you in a sorority or fraternity? Ask if you can post a flyer or info at the house on the University of Illinois campus. Same thing with campus-based faith organizations. Many of them offer bulletin boards where you can post a job.
Ask your neighbors – maybe they know of young adults in the neighborhood who babysit.
If your child has been in daycare or preschool in the past, ask the school what its policy is regarding teachers babysitting — go ahead and ask your child’s favorite teachers if they are looking to babysit right now.
Ask anyone you trust if they know of any good caregivers who may fit your parameters. That’s the best advice we can give. Word of mouth is how we’ve found our best sitters!
Backup plans, backup plans, backup plans – and more backup plans
Hiring a sitter or nanny can be a great solution for a family – but it isn’t foolproof. There are many reasons why a sitter might not be able to work on certain days. Or perhaps you’ve decided you don’t need someone with regular hours. Here are some suggestions for backup plans (which for some might work out as their first choice plans). Of course, the era of COVID-19 and social distancing makes cementing backup plans more complex.
1) 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 right now. Might it be ok occasionally, if not on an everyday basis right now?
2) Split/share some of the childcare needs among friends. Like we said, it takes a village, right? Find another school or daycare parent you trust. 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. Especially with remote learning, this is looking to be a very popular trend we’re seeing.
3) 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 a day or a few hours when needed. 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.
4) 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.
5) Check out home daycare options in your area. Find a home daycare in your neighborhood that might be willing to take in extra kids. Negotiate a rate in advance so you’re not surprised.
6) 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.
7) Possibly – do you know someone retired? This is where we’d typically encourage you to think of someone who is retired but still active and looking for some work to fill in their days… however, older adults are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, so this one isn’t towards the “top” of our backup list… but we have heard of plenty of scenarios where neighbors are pitching in, opening their homes or giving of their time in some form or fashion as families figure out all their logistics. If you’re not seeing many people as a family AND you find someone very willing to help out right now, this may be something that can live on your backup to the backup list.
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. We covered above the various ways to find them… it can’t hurt to go back to those searches once you’ve found your primary childcare solution and interview some backups.
Some more tips on searching for backup childcare right here.
Interested in care outside your home during remote learning? How about tutoring support? We also have a list of places that typically ofter school after care if you’re planning ahead for later this year.