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Part Time Daycare (or Drop-In Daycare)
Think of a scenario where you have an important function to attend, but your nanny leaves unexpectedly. Your partner has to go to work, and none of your regular babysitters are available. What do you do next? You look for a part-time daycare near you!
It’s alright that you’re feeling nervous about leaving your child in an unknown environment for a short period of time. However, the quality of care in a part-time daycare is similar to that of full time ones. You just have to choose a facility that you’re comfortable with and is reliable. If you’re unsure about how you feel regarding the drop-in child care concept, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision.
When Do You Need Part-Time Daycare?
Part-time daycares also referred to as drop-in daycares, are child care centers that look after your child for less than a full day or on an irregular schedule. Unlike full time daycare centers, your child doesn’t go to the facility every day or on a schedule. You simply drop them when you need someone to look after your child at a particular time. Part-time daycares especially come in handy when;
- You work based on shifts: if you work part-time and have a late-night shift or early morning one, you’ll need quality care for your child. Unfortunately, most full time daycares only operate within traditional hours and are often closed at night. Part-time daycares bridge this gap and ensure that you can access child care services when you need them most.
- You need more adult time: yes, your child is very important to you, but your entire life shouldn’t revolve around them. You deserve to interact with the outside world once in a while. Go out, meet your friends, and have a glass of wine over brunch without worry because drop-in daycares have got your back.
- When your regular child care option is suddenly unavailable: situations like this happen all the time and at the most inopportune moments. If you need quality child care so that you can attend an event or run errands, you can easily use a part-time daycare service near you.
Top Child Care Challenges That Parents Face
Parents are the real unsung heroes. Child care is often challenging but is one of the most rewarding jobs. However, once in a while, you’ll need help, and when that happens, part-time daycares will be there to save the day.
Here’s an overview of the difficulties parents face in finding child care and how part-time child care can potentially alleviate them.
- High expenses associated with child care: full time daycares are usually expensive, and if you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, the costs can be overwhelming. However, your child’s safety is always a priority, so you can’t compromise on the quality of care that your child gets. If you’re tired of constantly asking your friends and family for help with babysitting and can’t afford to pay for a full-time program, you can take your child to drop-in daycare once in a while. Part-time daycare rates are more affordable.
- Unexpected emergencies: life has a way of throwing you curveballs when you least expect them. For instance, your babysitter could fall sick just when you have to go to work for an important presentation. In this case, you can’t reschedule the meeting, and at the same time, you can’t take your infant to work. The best thing to do would be to take them to a part-time daycare for infants.
- Planning for business travels: if the nature of your work requires you to travel a lot, there are instances when conferences will require overnight stays. If this happens during the week and you have no child care alternatives, you can look up drop-in daycares with overnight options. This will alleviate your anxiety and ensure that your child’s schedule remains uninterrupted.
- Maintaining a work-life balance: the sad reality is that there’s a national child care crisis that’s keeping women out of the workforce and interrupting their career progression. Most mothers have had to quit their jobs so that they can provide their children with full time care. Even with a nanny and a daycare center, you may find yourself struggling to bridge the gap between the time you leave work and when the daycare closes. Some drop-in daycare centers are always open and are willing to work based on your work schedule.
- Getting personal time: most people fall into the trap of being helicopter parents instead of finding a balance between their parenting and personal needs. Between working, taking care of your children, and running errands, you risk getting burnt out. This doesn’t do you any good. You deserve to take a break, and a part-time daycare center is a perfect solution. It provides your child with quality care so that you can have enough time to pamper yourself or meet up with your friends.
Using drop-in daycare services also allows your child to interact with other kids their age, aiding in their development process.
How to Find a Part-time Daycare
Before you enroll your child in part-time daycare, there are several important factors that you should put into consideration. However, we recommend that you first look up a part-time daycare near me on your device and then screen the available options. Choose the perfect fit based on factors such as cost, accreditations, proximity to your location, and operating hours.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to find the best part-time daycare center;
- Step 1: conduct extensive research and get recommendations from friends and family.
- Step 2: screen the recommended centers to find out whether their operating hours coincide with your needs and how close they are to your home or workplace.
- Step 3: visit the centers to find out if they tick all the boxes and whether they seem right for your child. Don’t forget to ask about the accreditation of the center and the qualification of the staff.
- Step 4: Check their references to find out how satisfied they are with the services.
- Step 5: make an unexpected visit to get a true picture of how the daycare center is run.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you should then conduct a site visit and watch out for the following features;
- Available safety measures: your child’s safety should always come first, so make sure the drop-in daycare center has the necessary safety precautions. Some of the things you should check for include;
- Fire extinguishers, marked exits, smoke detectors.
- Window guards if the room is on an elevated floor.
- Clean floors that are safe from hazards.
You should also ensure that their rooms don’t have any choking hazards.
- Segmentations based on age groups: babies below 1 year should not be interacting with older children. They require more attention, and the other children may not have mastered the art of being gentle.
- A mentally and physically stimulating environment: are their toys appropriate for your child’s age group? Are the staff actively interacting with the kids? Find out the kind of stimulation that your child will be getting, and be sure to ask about the daily activities they’ll be engaging in.
- The emotional climate of the children: do they seem genuinely happy, or are they zoned out? How active and alert are they? There’s so much you can learn about a part-time daycare center by simply paying attention to the children. You should also look at how energetic and interactive the caregivers are. If they seem to have a good relationship with the children, then this is a good sign.
- Level of cleanliness: the health and sanitation condition of the daycare center spells out how effectively it’s run.
Signs of a clean and healthy setting include;
- Sanitary environments for bottle preparations.
- Caregivers sanitizing and cleaning their hands before and after a diaper change.
- Sanitization of toys.
- Individual pacifiers and teething rings for the babies.
- Disposable or machine washable utensils.
You should also look at the general cleanliness of the entire center.
Once you zero in on the best drop-in daycare center for your child, have a physical meeting with the caregivers to find out how long the staff has been working there and what criteria they use to screen them. You should also ask about their emergency policies and who specifically will be looking after your child.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Drop-In Daycare
Choosing a part-time daycare center is a difficult decision, but here are a few questions that can make it significantly easier;
- How much does part-time daycare cost, and is it within my budget?
- Which factors do I consider important? (proximity, diverse programs, operating hours, etc.)
- Will the daycare center fit into my working hours and commute?
- Do I prefer being close to my baby in case of an emergency?
- How often do I plan on using the drop-in daycare center?
As you make your choice, make sure you trust your gut feeling. If something feels off, then look for other alternatives.
Find a Part-time Preschool Near You
Choosing a part-time daycare center for your child is often a difficult decision, especially when you haven’t used similar services before. Make sure you go for a facility that is accredited, has friendly & energetic caregivers, segments children based on age groups, and has a diverse range of programs.
If you need help choosing the best drop-in daycare center for your baby, Wonderschool is delighted to help! We work closely with parents to identify their needs and then use this information to help them locate the perfect facilities for their children. Contact us today for more information!