By Cindy Krischer Goodman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Alternatives to full-time childcare are providing parents options to fit their new ways of working. One of the most-popular options is drop-in care, where childcare is available by reservation, or at the last minute as a service offered by full-time day care and early-learning centers.
Today’s workers often want flexibility in their work. That, and the changes that followed the recession, have led to a freelance economy, shared working spaces and individualized job schedules.
But the trend toward flexibility in the labor force also has spawned another need: flexible childcare.
From nannies on demand to day care or after-school care on demand, alternatives to full-time childcare are providing parents options to fit their new ways of working. One of the most-popular options is drop-in care, where childcare is available by reservation, or at the last minute as a service offered by full-time day care and early-learning centers. Parents can pre-buy preschool hours and use them as needed. Costs vary but start at about $10 an hour, plus a one-time registration fee.
Earlier this month, Suzanne Santos, a mother of three, found herself using this alternative. Santos, a real estate agent in South Miami, had a photo shoot set up for one of her new property listings and needed childcare for her 2-year-old daughter for the afternoon when the nanny called in sick. So, Santos bought a package of drop-in childcare hours at The Fun Club in South Miami that she will use as needed over the next month.
“The all-or-nothing day-care scenario doesn’t make sense anymore,” Santos says. “People like me who have a flexible job with strange hours have a lot of moving parts and need options.”
Pamela Guilarte began drop-in care as the owner of Fun Club in South Miami and just sold the preschool to Orange Blossom Learning Center. Now, she plans to license the format she used locally to preschools around the country. She and her mother, Maria Sayre, have developed software that allows parents to log onto a website, purchase a package of hours and sign up for preschool/childcare as needed, or several days a week. Preschool owners are able to use the software to track parent usage and send out renewal notices.