As a nurse, Ann Arbor parent Latoya Sawyer isn’t always off work in time to pick up her son. "I work a lot of weird hours and sometimes, you can’t get out right on time," she says.
For Sawyer, morning and evening daycare – for before- and-after school – is crucial for her to ensure that her child is cared for while she’s busy at work.
Once kids are in school, working parents no longer have to struggle to find childcare for the middle hours of the day. But this new stage of childhood offers a new challenge – the gaps between when a child is not in school and when a parent is still at work.
"This was a really hard transition for our family," says Katie Greer of Clinton Township. "It was so much easier when my daughter just went to her all-day childcare while I was at work. I dropped her off before I went to work, she spent the day there, and then I picked her up on my way home.
"But when they are in school, it’s tougher. You have to get them some early morning childcare that will take them to school, then arrange some child care that picks them up from school. It adds extra steps."
How daycares help
That’s why most daycares have a pick-up option where the parents can stay at work and the daycare provides transportation to and from school.
"We provide transportation to most Brighton Area Schools," says Holly Fowler, director of Teddy Bear’s Playhouse in Brighton. "We provide transportation in a 2009 multi-purpose bus designed with a seat belt system."
At Teddy Bear’s Playhouse, drop off time in the morning can be early as 6:30 a.m. and the pick-up time for the evening can be as late as 6 p.m.
"Latchkey can also be good options that are already provided at the school, but they usually just let the kids run around and play," says Sawyer.
Daycares sometimes augment a child’s education, make sure they do homework and provide a little more structure.
"Children are cared for by the same qualified teachers as our regular preschool program," says Fowler.
Hunting for the right fit
To find before and after school childcare for your child, consider your schedule, the school’s schedule and what you want the childcare to provide while your child is there. Talk to the daycare facility about who will be driving and what background it does on that person (driving record, criminal history, etc.)
"I made sure I talked to people already using the daycare – ones I just asked who were walking out, so I knew that they weren’t hand-selected," says Greer. "Ask all the safety stuff, but don’t forget to ask if their kids enjoy going there. That’s important, too."