It is no secret that the pandemic has uprooted the schedules and routines of families around the world. The sudden lack of childcare options combined with the need to work from home is putting an especially large burden on women. So much so that the American workforce is in danger of losing a devastating number of women. So far this year, they have left jobs at four times the rate of men. Finding childcare during Covid has turned into a national crisis and it is time to look for more solutions.
When moms are unable to work the companies and organizations in the country are less likely to make decisions that favor women, take families into account, and miss out on female perspectives. It’s time to get creative and resourceful! We have put together a list of ideas to help you get started in finding childcare to support your family and keep you in your job.
Do the math
Before looking at alternatives and solutions for finding childcare during Covid it is important to do the not-so-fun work of crunching some numbers and looking at the details. The process our teams uses is:
- Look at how much childcare you need.
- Look at your top three “favorite” options and how much each cost.
- Determine how much you can afford each week.
- Explore how much free support you can rely on each week (can your mom or teenage niblings take the kids for a few hours once or twice a week).
Once you have this information you will be able to make easier and more informed decisions about your options. Now, it’s time to get creative. Below is a list of our favorite ideas for expanding your childcare during Covid and expanding your village of support.
Look at federal funding options
There are a handful of federal programs that will continue to provide support to families through the end of the year and possibly beyond. For instance, certain employers have mandates to provide two weeks of sick leave for parents who have Covid concerns other than being diagnosed. You can read more about that here.
There is also the possibility of having some of your childcare costs covered if you use a center. The CARES Act allows stipends to be given through certain childcare centers that accept subsidies. You can read more about that program and your own qualifications here.
Look at state assistance options
Each state has a different subsidy program for providing childcare assistance during Covid. The requirements vary and this could be an excellent route to go. Read about each state’s programs here.
Look at private center discounts
If you are in an area where you feel safe using a childcare center, it pays off for a lot of families to see what private discounts are available. At the very least, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Some possible options include sibling discounts, income sliding scales, payment plans, Groupon offers (yes – that is a thing in some areas!), employer discounts (many large companies offer one). Put a call-out in your mommies Facebook group and get some local tips. Then, start making calls.
Using a childcare center isn’t a safe option for all families. In many areas, nannies are returning to taking on clients and are open to nanny share arrangements. This may be a wonderful option for finding great childcare curing Covid.
A nanny share is just that, two families sharing one nanny and splitting the cost. Although a nanny will raise their rate for two families, it will typically still end up costing less for each. The nanny and families can then agree on safety guidelines and agreements and limit exposure.
Create a pandemic pod
A pandemic pod is a small group of families who limit exposure to the group. It can be a great childcare option if the parents in the pod have flexible schedules and can take turns with the childcare throughout the week or supervise the children while they do virtual learning. This prevents everyone from going stir crazy. Learn about creating a pandemic pod at this great New York Times article.
Hire a virtual sitter
If you have older children a virtual sitter could be an option for finding childcare during Covid. Though it is likely to only free up a few hours for you a week, it may be something to consider for variety and lightening your load a bit. If this sounds like an option you’d like to consider, get started with these resources: