By Lee Hurley
One fact stands out in trying to resolve child care issues in a post pandemic economy. If you want a job, become a childcare worker! For the rest of us who don’t have the skill, experience or patience to care for someone else’s children, we must seek child care alternatives.
“We can’t leave our kids alone”
Over 40% of employees in the U.S. are working parents. This highlights the critical need for affordable child care alternatives just at a time when job demand is outpacing daycare availability. Not to mention many parents and daycare workers are still not sure they want to go back to the false security of pre-pandemic life. So, while jobs are plentiful and pay continues to rise, it hardly matters if people can’t find someone to care for their children. However, if we are anything in this country, it’s resourceful.
Family to the rescue
According to a survey conducted by Cleo, 37 percent of working parents have discussed asking family to move in to help them with child-care needs. For others, the daily trip to “grandma’s” house is a viable child care alternative. This harkens back to earlier times when families were expected to help. This also cements the bond between generations.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
Many parents are recruiting babysitters, and makeshift at-home “day cares” with neighbors to make daycare safe and affordable. Having neighborhood parents involved in the care of your children while you help care for theirs makes good sense and adds to the feeling of having a village care for your child.
Some parents are working in shifts Pete Saab from Detroit says, “My wife Alana works the morning shift from 7 a.m. till 2 p.m. I have the 4 p.m. till 11p.m. shift. It’s not perfect but it’s what we have to do for now.”
The YMCA has always offered early education programs, but moms looking for part-time work can also apply to watch other kids along with their own. Many YMCAs also have a Childwatch program which gives you a chance to work out or use the onsite computers. For part-time care, ChildTime lets parents buy five days at a time on a prepaid card and reserve a spot just 48 hours in advance. There are multiple locations in 19 states. Select high schools are offering affordable part time child care alternatives which gives a student experience (with oversight from a teacher) and parent’s affordable options to work or bridge gaps between mom and dad’s schedules. In an attempt to help the young and old alike, a select few assisted living facilities are testing other childcare alternatives as well. Elderly residents love nurturing children and have time to spare. Programs exist in Seattle, Grand Rapids, MI and Los Angeles. Hopefully, more will come to the rest of the country soon.
Hopefully as we ease back to normalcy, child care supply will catch up with parent demand. But it’s also happily the case that “necessity is the mother of invention.”