Finding a Baby-Sitter Fast

What to do when your child care fails you

Career Mom

Finding a Baby-Sitter Fast

What to do when your child care fails you

-Susan Crandell

babysittingIt should be every parent’s nightmare, but all too often the responsibility falls to us moms when child care fails. Your regular sitter’s going on vacation, or her kid’s got the flu. Either way, you need a good plan B for how to find a baby-sitter fast.

In the good old days of abundant staffs and abundant jobs, it might have been a great excuse to play hooky and spend a day with your kids. Now, no one wants to leave her office empty for even a day.

Our jobs are more vital to our family’s welfare than ever. A recent study by the Families and Work Institute in New York found that women in two-career families provide 44 percent of household income, a 5 percent jump since 1997. Add to the equation the number of emergency child-care facilities that are closing at cash-strapped companies that can no longer afford to underwrite such a worker benefit. When you need child care, you really need it.

Below are three strategies for success. And remember, what’s key is to put a plan in place now, well before the emergency strikes.

Sign Up With a Referral Agency  The Child Care Network  provides free referrals for licensed child care in a five-county region of Michigan. Investigate similar opportunities where you live.

Cut a Deal With an At-Home Mom  If you don’t have a friend who can take care of your kids in a pinch, the class moms in your children’s grades are a good place to start scouting emergency child care. These women are probably at home with their kids, and your children may know them already. Be generous with pay so they’ll more happily welcome the interruption in their own lives when you need them. If a friend is taking up the slack, be sure to reward her too. If she firmly refuses pay, buy her flowers or a gift certificate for a dinner out.

Investigate Nanny Agencies Many agencies will provide temporary help, as well as long-term childcare. Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article testing four agencies in different parts of the country. When you investigate an agency, make sure that their nannies are experienced, well screened and come with multiple recommendations from former clients. In extremes, you won’t have a choice, so you want overall reassurance. Fees ranged from $12 to $25 an hour, plus a placement fee or $25 to $40. It’s a pricey option, but some agencies can have a nanny at your home in an hour.

Remember, the time to finding a baby-sitter fast is looking before you actually need one!

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