How To Find Childcare Solutions on a Budget
Are you trying to find ways to keep working without putting your kids in daycare? Maybe there is a scarcity of qualified daycares in your area, or all your preferred choices are full right now. Perhaps you can’t afford childcare on your salary, or you just can’t stand the thought of leaving your child with a stranger while you toil away at your job all day. While daycare can be a great option for many, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work out for some parents.
There are two primary reasons for people to get creative when searching for childcare: cost and availability. As of 2020, the average cost of childcare was over $10,000 a year.
In addition, 51% of families in the US live in what’s known as childcare deserts, meaning there are few to no childcare providers in their communities. Roughly half of Americans have trouble finding childcare, due in part to thousands of childcare centers closing over the last two years.
Here are five ways you can still do your job without relying on a spot to open up at the local daycare center. Better yet, the last two ways won’t cost you a dime, just the willingness to ask for help and lend a hand in return.
5 Ways to Find Childcare on a Budget
1. In-Home Daycare
This is the most reliable, and unfortunately expensive, of the options listed. It is still considered daycare, but it’s usually smaller and less institution-like than daycare centers. People opt for this kind of setting because it feels more familiar and comforting than those big centers, kind of like dropping your child off for a play date as opposed to a school day. Keep in mind, however, that many in-home daycare businesses have closed since the pandemic, so it might be a challenge to find one. Check out Angieslist.com and Care.com for options in your area, or ask around in your neighborhood or office to find out if anyone else uses one. There’s nothing like getting another parent’s first-hand recommendation to put your mind at ease when handing off your little ones.
2. Share Care With Other Parents
If you have a friend or family member with little kids and childcare needs like yours, you can pool your resources and hire a caregiver together. It will be cheaper for you both to pay one person to watch your little ones than it will be for you each to hire someone separately.
3. Bring Baby to Work
Some employers offer onsite daycare for employees. Others, such as Adobe, Amazon, and Intel, have partnerships with facilities like Bright Horizons, to prioritize and place employees’ children. Make sure to find out what kind of childcare options your employer provides. If they don’t provide any, maybe it’s time to make the switch to a company that does.
In addition, some communities offer coworking spaces for freelancers with daycare provided. A couple of examples are Wiggles & Work in Los Angeles, CA, and The Hive in Austin, TX. If you’re a freelancer, it’s worth looking into whether or not there is a space like this in your community.
4. Babysitting Coop
This is an arrangement among a group of local parents in which they swap childcare with each other. If your neighborhood is full of young kids like yours, then you might ask around to see if anyone is interested in starting a coop. If you are new to the area, or you live in a neighborhood with few kids around, websites like Care.com and SittingAround.com, and the app My Komae can be great places to start.
5. Friends and Family
If you’re lucky enough to have family in the area, this can be a terrific resource for free child care. Grandma and Grandpa might jump at the chance to spoil–I mean spend time with–their grandchildren while you’re at work. It’s a win-win for you both: you get free child care, and they get extra hugs.
Childcare is tricky. You’re trusting your most precious asset to someone else while you work. And as if that isn’t scary enough, finding quality child care can be daunting. Exploring these options can help you decide the best childcare solution for your family, your budget, and your peace of mind.