Juggling childcare with a career or other commitments, such as looking after relatives, can prove tricky, especially when an emergency crops up.
Whether it’s an urgent business meeting, a sick childminder or an emergency over-night stay away, it’s helpful to have a contingency childcare plan in place.
Here CashLady looks at your emergency childcare options, including last-minute childminders and nurseries, using agencies to help source the extra help that you need, and calling in help from friends and family.
When you need emergency childcare
Lots of situations can arise where you may need emergency childcare.
A child becoming too sick to attend nursery, an ill nanny or childminder, or an unexpected event in your personal life means that it’s useful to have a list of childcare option B’s to hand.
If you have a regular childminder or nanny then consider arranging a back-up for when an emergency arises.
Using an agency for your emergency childcare
If you don’t already have backup childcare in place, then an agency can help you access qualified local nanny’s and childminders at a moment’s notice, for a variety of different rates.
Selecting the right person to look after your child is an important decision and so many agencies, usually found online, offer childcare options that are regulated and vetted and can be organised within as little as 30 minutes.
This type of childcare can be expensive and you may pay a premium for the ease of organising it quickly, but it offers good protection to both you as a client, and the nanny as an employee.
A backup nanny or childminder for emergencies
Confirming a back-up childminder or nanny means that in an emergency you can act quickly to put childcare in place.
Ask friends for recommendations or visit local childminders to find someone that suits both you and your children’s needs, who would be happy to provide childcare at short notice.
Using friends and family for emergency childcare
If you are lucky enough to have grandparents or other willing friends or family members living locally then you could ask if they are able to help you out with childcare in an emergency.
A great perk of using friends or family is that it’s much cheaper than relying on more formal forms of childcare, plus it’s likely that your child will feel safe and comfortable under their care.
It is, however, important to set boundaries with your friend or family member and discuss essential points of your child’s care, including attitudes towards discipline and behaving badly.
Remember that things can get complicated without a formal arrangement in place.
For example, it’s relatively easy to complain at a nursery if your child comes home with a bruise but it’s less easy to work out what you could say and how you’d approach things with a friend or family member.
If your child is young then it’s a particularly good idea to go through your friend or family members home to check for areas that might need ‘child proofed,’ such as flights of stairs or cupboards full of cleaning products that could be easily accessed by little hands.
What to consider when selecting emergency childcare
Initial questions for your emergency childcare provider
The Family and Childcare Trust has provided suggestions for questions to ask and what to look out for when selecting your emergency childcare.
- The hours that childcare providers can provide childcare
- The hourly, daily, and/or weekly cost
- If they have places available for your child
If you are visiting a registered childminder or nursery then it’s recommended that you look out for:
- Trained and experienced staff, ready to learn and respond to your child’s individual needs
- Busy, but relaxed, children who seem happy and purposeful
- Safe and clean premises – welcoming and friendly with outside play space
- Cultural sensitivity and responsiveness to children’s home life
- A staff team and group of children who reflect local ethnic and cultural groups
- Fun activities planned each day – childminders, nurseries and out-of-school clubs all need to plan their days with children’s interests and enthusiasms in mind
- Planned exercise and quiet times to relax are important