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Creative Ways to Care for Kids

Dear Debi,
I have two children of my own and often stay home on the weekends, so I would like to start a weekend child care service. Do you think Iíll get enough business if I only care for kids on the weekend? Do you think this is a good idea? ŅSerŠ una buena idea? !
Susana, Eagle Rock, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Get to know and respond to your communityís needs
  • Many families may require care at non-traditional hours
  • Anything you do to make a parentís life easier is an added bonus
Expert Advice
Greg Uba
Greg Uba
Childrenís Services Coordinator, Connections for Children
We talk to providers about meeting other providers in the community to help them network with one another. When providers go on vacation, they can make provisions for another child care provider to take over, so families wonít have to scramble to find other child care services. Some programs might even be able to share substitutes.

Substitutes may work a few hours each week for several different providers. Also, family child care providers can meet at the park with parents and let the parents socialize. Two or three providers may agree to have kids meet with other providers and parents as part of a special event. By agreeing to meet at some place like a park, they get that large group socialization.

Many families are overwhelmed by those things they need to do everyday to take care of their families. Anything child care providers can do to support parents and to make their lives easier will be seen as an added bonus and can be used in marketing their program. In addition to providing high quality care, responding to parentsí needs is the best way to ensure high demand for a particular providerís services. Quality care comes first, then unique services.

Each familyís child care arrangement needs are unique. Practical consideration like their employment schedules or the needs of parents to have time together without their children mean that many will require child care at other times than the typical 9-to-5 workday. Many times, family child care hours are 12 hours as opposed to centers which average a 9-hour full day. Family child care hours allow parents to go to the grocery store or the bank or run errands that would be easier without the kids.

If a child care provider finds they work better with a certain age group of children, they should think about focusing their business around that age group. Not only is it better for the provider, but itís better for the kids in their care. I know of some providers who only take children up to 3 years of age. When the kids get older, they refer them to other child care providers who specialize in that age group.
Child Care provider Comments
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
I offer evening care and holidays for people who have nightshifts. They can have the 6:00 pm Ė 12:00 am shift or 12:00 am Ė 6:00 am shift, so I accommodate all types of schedules. I also provide what is called ď24-hour care,Ē which is really 23-hour care because legally I can only be open for 23 hours. This flexibility with my hours of operation allows me to work with the parentsí schedules. Whatever their shift is, we accommodate them.
Alma Martinez
Alma Martinez
Child care provider for 10 years
Sometimes if my parents canít make a doctorís appointment, Iíll take their child for them. I also transport children to and from school and we go to the library for storytime. I also offer services for special needs kids. I can take care of children with diabetes, asthma, autism, or Down Syndrome. Iíve taken classes at community college about special needs kids, and since I need to continue to be informed on current practices, I also take workshops.
Clarissa August
Clarissa August
Family child care provider for 21 years
Parents have expressed a definite need for child care on the weekends and at night. You may want to start with a few kids, but she you still get a great child care business going. Word of mouth among parents is perhaps the best way to grow your business. You need to provide quality care, of course, but the fact that she is open on Saturdays is really going to get people talking.

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Topic: Professionalism
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