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Extension > Family > Partnering for School Success > Child Care Resources > Child Care Dilemmas: What Do I Do When...

Child Care Resources

Child Care Dilemmas: What Do I Do When...

Rose Allen, Extension Educator – Family Relations; Reviewed by Ronald L. Pitzer, Family Sociologist and Professor – Family Social Science

Reviewed July 2013 by Kathleen A. Olson, Program Director — Partnering for School Success.

No matter how good you feel about the child care that you have selected for your child, you still need to plan for certain situations. Problems such as a sick child or financial restraints can change the ideal situation into a sticky one. This factsheet addresses some of these problems and possible solutions. The key is to plan for them before they happen.

My Child Is Sick and Can’t Go To Child Care

You can plan on your child getting sick at one time or another. Before your child gets sick, check with your employer’s human resources or personnel department on their policies for sick child care.

When you cannot miss work, arrange back-up care. Possibilities include a neighbor or relative who knows your child well. There are public and private agencies who will provide in-home care for sick children.

Sick child care centers are available in some cases. Some employers even cover a part of the daily fee.

Keep in mind that when your child is really ill he or she needs to be in the care of either a parent or someone who is close to him or her, as well as separated from other children to prevent spread of illness.

My Child Care Provider Is Sick and Can’t Care For My Child

At the time you select a provider it is a good idea to cover what happens when he or she gets sick. Is there a back-up person who can care for the children or are the parents expected to find alternative care? Are you required to pay the provider for days when he or she is ill and cannot care for your child?

If your provider doesn’t have a back-up plan, you need to make arrangements for your child.

Some possibilities include:

I Work Odd Hours and Can’t Find Child Care

Most family child care and child care centers are open during regular work hours. If you work during the day but have early or late hours, a child care center may not offer the flexibility you need. If you work nights and/or weekends, you may have more trouble. Check with the following places for lists of child care providers and their hours of service:

I Need Help Making Ends Meet

Talk to your provider and let them know what’s happening. If this is a short-term situation, try to arrange for a payment plan after paying at least part of the bill. If your provider is agreeable, consider offering to help with care for his or her children in exchange for a reduced rate. If you have other skills such as sewing, yard work, or accounting, consider offering these skills as partial payment for your child care. Keep in mind that your financial problems will create financial problems for the provider as well.

If you’re having long-term financial problems, you need to find help with your child care costs. Find out what your county social service department can do to help. Ask for information about the sliding fee program.

I’m Going To Be Late Picking Up My Child

Call your provider. Let them know that you will be late. To avoid problems, try to plan in advance for times when you will be late. The following tips can help:

My Child Has Bruises or Marks When I Pick Her Up from Child Care

Your first step is to ask your provider to explain what happened. Ask them how your child was injured. Get as many details about the incident as you can. If your child is old enough, ask her what happened. Do the stories match?

If your child frequently has bruises or marks, it may be a good idea to take him to a doctor for medical attention. Ask your doctor if the injuries could be explained by the reasons you have been given. Some children regularly hurt themselves during play activities. If the injury seems related to a particular piece of play equipment or furniture, point this out immediately to your provider. Ask that the item be removed or modified so your child will have a safe environment. If you suspect that your provider, or someone in the home or center, is abusing your child, report it immediately to your local child care licenser or child protection agency and remove your child from the program.

I Have Had a Change in My Personal, Home, or Work Life that Is Affecting My Child

When you and your family have a change, whether it’s good or bad, it’s a good idea to talk about it with the person who cares for your child. This person is a partner in caring for your youngster. They need to understand your situation so they can respond appropriately to your child. If you or your family are going through some tough times, your child care provider can play an important role by providing stability for your child. It’s important to involve them and keep them informed.

My Child Seems to Be Sick a Lot Since He’s Been in Child Care

Some kids are more prone to illness than others. They may have a chronic cold, ear infection, or always get a bug when it’s going around. Discuss this with your child’s doctor. If your child fits this description, you may want to consider using child care where your child will be exposed to fewer children. A family child care provider who cares for three or four children might be ideal. Another option is to examine your provider’s sick-child policy. Are other children coming to child care when they really should be kept at home? Ask your provider about this; let them know you are concerned. Keep your child home when he or she is sick. As inconvenient as it may be, it is your responsibility to reduce the spread of infection. Proper hand washing in the child care center or home – before and after meals, after toileting, and diaper changes – can help reduce the spread of germs that can make your child ill.

Related Resources

Guidelines for Setting Consequences with Your Child — Strategies for parents to use to teach natural and logical consequences rather than punishment to change the child's behavior.

Understanding Child Care Contracts and Rules — Knowing the ground rules is important to a successful relationship with a child care provider.

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