Is Drop-in Child Care Right for you?
While regular daycare is an excellent solution for working parents, there are often many instances when parents do not need full-time daycare. Such situations might include times when they have an appointment, work only part-time or a special situation arises. Drop-in child care can also be a good solution when a regular babysitter is ill or unavailable at the last minute. During such times parents may need a reliable source of child care at the last minute without the need to rely on a babysitter. Increasingly, many parents have also found that drop-in child care is also a viable solution for those times when they simply need some adult time. Whether parents need to run errands, attend an adult-only function, business event or simply need a date night, drop-in child care centers are growing in popularity across the country. Single parents find this service particularly attractive.
In such situations drop-in child care can be a great solution. Drop-in child care is a day care center that offers a wide range of hours. Parents typically pay for care by the hour rather than a flat rate. As drop-in care centers have become more popular with parents, they have also become increasingly popular with children as well. Many drop-in child care centers now offer a variety of events and even themed days to keep kids busy and hoppy. A drop-in child care center is typically operated much in the same way as traditional day care, with only a few exceptions. Staff receives the same type of training as those in a traditional daycare. In fact, it is not uncommon for the workers in traditional daycare centers to even work on a part-time basis in drop-in centers.
A drop-in care center will often remain open until 9 or even 10 p.m. during the week and may remain open until midnight on weekends. While there are some drop-in centers that are open on Sundays, this is not the case with every center, so it is important for parents to check on the hours of operation. For special occasions, many centers will offer later hours.
One important element to keep in mind with drop-in daycare is that it is possible for a center to become full due to the fact that centers must maintain staff-child ratios. To ensure those ratios are not exceeded, the centers may reach a point on some days when they are not able to admit any more children. Some drop-in facilities may also require parents to make reservations for babies due to staffing issues as well. The primary reason for this is that most states require all daycare facilities to maintain a lower staff to child ratio due to the amount of care small infants require.
One of the most common questions many parents have about drop-in child care is whether it is affordable. Parents are often surprised to find that the rates charged by drop-in care centers are about the same as the rate paid to adult babysitters. In particular, parents of multiple children often find it is less expensive in the long-term. This can be particularly true when snacks and meals are factored into the cost. The cost for a drop-in care center usually starts at about $7 per hour, but may range up to about $10 per hour based on the age of the child. Different geographic regions may charge less or more based upon typical costs in the area and supply and demand. There may also be a one-time registration fee.
When searching for a drop-in care center, it is still important for parents to check credentials. All centers should be fully licensed and should operate under the same regulations as other daycare facilities in your state. Parents can expect staff to be trained in first-aid and CPR, education in early childhood development, and be experienced in working with children. Most daycare centers will also conduct criminal background checks on all employees, but parents may want to check with the center to be certain this is done.
If you are considering using a drop-in care center, it is a good idea to conduct an initial visit first. Avoid waiting until the last minute and then trying to register your child, complete all of the forms and introduce your child to a new environment. Take the time to visit first, complete the registration forms and visit with the staff. This will help to ensure the center is a right fit for both you and your children, so that when a situation does arrive when you need childcare at the last moment everything will be handled in advance.