One of the biggest questions right now for working parents is CHILDCARE — when the regular system can resume, whether you’ll lose your spot/caregiver if you don’t keep paying, etc, etc. So let’s discuss! Here are a few questions to kickstart the discussion, but obviously each situation will be different…
If your kids’ daycare has closed, are you still paying for daycare? How has your daycare dealt with the #stayathome orders, if your state has one — has there been a way to pause services? If you have decided to end your payments, are you worried about getting a spot when things open up again? (There was just a great thread on this on Corporette, and another one here…)
If you still have the option for daycare (or school!) (for example, you’re an “essential employee” and childcare is provided through your work) — are you sending your kids? (Some states have closed all childcare centers except for those serving essential workers; some states only have “recommended school closures.”) Are you nervous about your kids contracting COVID-19 from someone there and/or passing it to others?
If you have a nanny or babysitter, are you still paying them even if they are social distncing and not coming to your home? How long do you plan to do that? If you your nanny/babysitter HAS been coming to your home, have you taken extra steps to insure that it’s a “closed loop,” or that you’ve socially distanced long enough to ensure that none of you have been exposed to the virus?
If you have grandparents watching your kids as a large part of your childcare, are they still doing so, or are you social distancing from them? (We talked about granny as nanny a few years ago!) If they have been coming to your home (if they don’t live with you regularly, have you taken extra steps to insure that it’s a “closed loop”? If you did social distance for a while, when did you decide (or when will you decide) that you’ve socially distanced long enough?
Are you enlisting older siblings to watch your younger child(ren)? How is that going? Is it something new you are trying, or have they watched their siblings before?
Have you tried virtual babysitting, by asking either a relative, friend, or an existing babysitter? Or would it not work well for your child(ren)? (Or is screentime in general your new babysitter?)
When do you think it will be safe to send kids to daycare or school again? In the federal government’s plan to reopen segments of the country, the first steps include “reopen[ing] community settings where children are cared for, including K-12 schools, daycares, and locally attended summer camps, to allow the workforce to return to work.”
There are no easy answers right now!
Here’s one brilliant idea I read about somewhere: If you need to go to the grocery store, for example, but can’t leave the kid(s) home alone, see if you can get a friend, family member, or care provider with a car to “babysit” your kids while you go into the store. Everyone stays in their own cars, but you park right next to each other so the babysitter can see the kids. When the weather is warmer, in theory, people could do the same and “watch” kids from a distance…
Stock photo via Pexels / Gustavo Fring.
In a state with stay at home orders; daycare has been closed since mid-March. We paid April tuition to hold our spots, but will be able to credit that money to a future month of care once they’re able to re-open.
My parents watch my kids normally, and they’re both 65+ and my mom has some preexisting conditions — so we’re social distancing and it’s killing my husband’s and my productivity. But when can we stop? Every time we get a grocery delivery or walk past someone on the sidewalk I feel like the clock resets — and they’re going out and doing more walks/drives than we are.
I am a corporate lawyer and was WFH before all of this started. We have a nanny that comes to the house two days a week. She is social distancing and has elderly parents so she’s being extra careful. We are also isolating and being extra careful. So we figure that’s as closed as the loop will get for us. Don’t get me wrong, I do still have moments of panic and paranoia about it.
Our 4 year old attends a private preschool that is currently closed due to a “safer at home” order. The school suspended tuition for April but asked for donations in lieu of tuition. We paid our tuition as usual because we’re fortunate to have not had a change in our income and had already budgeted for the year’s tuition with our dependent care FSA. We’ll continue to pay May’s tuition even if it is suspended again. We love the school and they are really hurting financially due to this situation.
Same, except that I am unsure we will make an equivalent donation (ie, full tuition) for May. I am becoming increasingly worried that my job may be eliminated in the fall, and we could build our e-fund significantly with a couple of months of tuition payments. I’m not super worried about holding spots bc I doubt the school will reopen before September, and we will be moving on to public.
When this all went down my husband was just returning from paternity leave after birth of our 2nd daughter. We’ve hired our nanny and starting paying her, but still distancing for now since we have the little one and our community is still on the upswing for quite a while. So right now our nanny helps me plan out the days for our oldest and will FaceTime her a bit. I want to get to a spot where we have better testing and significant reduction in cases before we ease up on the distancing but my husband and I are already working around the clock to balance childcare and work. So we’ll see…
School is closed. The 5 year old does two Zoom classes (15 minutes each) a day. Her teacher has put up a thoughtful, optional curriculum online. We barely follow it (screentime is working mom’s friend), but it is nice to have. Full private-school tuition applies. We will keep paying through the end of the year, but Fall 2020 is a big question in my mind. I do not think it will be safe to send my child back to school even if they re-open. I’m fine with paying out tuition this year, but I can’t imagine paying full private tuition next year if the school is closed or we choose not to send our child. My child goes to a very small school and I am worried that it will completely shut down because of this crisis. I honestly don’t think it will be safe for children to go back to school until we have a vaccine or enough herd immunity has built up. Neither of those will realistically happen by the fall. It could be a very long time. 18 months is not an absurd projection. But I’m not sure the social fabric holds together that long if Congress won’t provide basic income for the unemployed and start tackling some systemic issues, so I really don’t know what happens.
+1. If we’re going to be homeschooling for another 12 months on and off we are really re-thinking private school tuition.
We have two kids in daycare. Tuition was suspending for April but we have to start paying in May to keep our spots. We are grateful for the suspension, and both remain employed so we will begin paying again in May. I have no idea when my kids will go back but we are years away from K, so I assume we will need the spot eventually.
We have been very strictly following social distancing, beyond what is required in our state. But after a month at home pregnant with a toddler and two parents trying to work from home, we are throwing in the towel and hiring part-time help. I know there is a risk but I am out of ideas. I have to bill my time and simply haven’t been getting enough hours, so the only other option I see is to quit my job.
I forgot to add that our daycare is currently closed until the end of the month, and we have not been paying. It’s unclear to me whether they’ll actually be reopening in May, and I’m very torn about what to do if they do. At this point, I’d rather they stayed closed so I don’t have to pay.
You’re not alone. We made it a month juggling childcare for a toddler and 2 FT jobs, but I reached my breaking point yesterday. We have part-time help starting tomorrow. Our daycare is supposed to reopen in 2 weeks, but my husband and I probably won’t send our daughter back for a while longer. Our state isn’t supposed to peak for another 2-3 weeks, and I’m high risk. We’re paying 1/2 tuition now (even though daycare is closed), and they may allow us to continue paying 1/2 tuition to hold her spot after it reopens if we keep her home. 1/2 tuition + PT sitter isn’t cheap, but we are fortunate to be able to throw money at this problem.
I totally feel for you! I am on leave now with a 1 month-old and a 2 year-old, and I am dreading having to go back to billing time and caring for both of them at the end of the summer. I’m scared for the baby getting exposed to anything too early (even if kids have mostly been safe from COVID-19) and don’t know how I feel about what to do when our daycare reopens. My neighbor is in your shoes (pregnant with a toddler) and is doing exactly the same thing (working with a nanny while daycare is closed). But for all of us to keep our jobs and pay the bills in this precarious time, we need to have some childcare help. Hang in there!
anon for this says
We reached our breaking point two weeks ago and found a non-working teacher who became more strict about her isolating and will start with us next week, after 3 weeks. She will do the mornings until naptime, and with nap that will give DH and me each 6-7 solid hours of work. We’ll still have to juggle the afternoons and evenings but a guaranteed long stretch of productivity will be huge. My employer provides a subsidy for in-home “crisis” child care that will cover the cost, at least until the end of May when I’ll hit my benefit limit. Our daycare has closed but they stopped collecting tuition at the beginning of April.
We are still paying 50%. We love our provider and want her to still be around when this is over!
We have a two year old that is usually cared for by a nanny, who we pay on the books. In NYC where there is “PAUSE”/stay at home order, although childcare providers, which may technically include nannies, are considered essential workers. However, our nanny is in her mid-60s — she would have been willing to keep coming in, and in fact I suspect she’s bored at home alone. But we didn’t feel comfortable asking her to take public transportation each day. So we’re still paying her the full salary and juggling childcare between me and my husband, while both WFH full time. Luckily we’ve been able to balance hours on and off. I’ve been a lot busier than my husband due to work (legal work for a bank), but now that the stock market is less hectic, it’s just normal busy which is manageable instead of Hair on Fire like the first two weeks. We’re also continuing to pay our housekeeper who usually comes every other week, even though she’s not cleaning. I feel pretty strongly that because we are continuing to get paid and are not subject to economic insecurity ourselves, it is the right thing to do.
We are doing the same as you. If our own income changes then we will rethink but so long as we are lucky enough to continue to get paid then we are going to make sure that the women who do this essential work for us but who we have asked not to come in do not get left high and dry.
Boston Legal Eagle says
Our two kids (4 and 1.5) are normally in full time daycare. Once they closed, they stopped charging tuition so we haven’t been paying since mid-March. It’s a large center so hopefully they ‘ll be ok financially and all the teachers can come back, assuming it’s within the next few months.
We don’t have other help during the week when we work but my parents (<65, no major health issues, were already retired/WFH and basically living the socially distant life) have come over occasionally on the weekends to take the kids outside and to give us a break. It's a risk we're all willing to take. I think the risk of one of us getting it and passing it on to them will be higher when I return to commuting on public transit/kids are back in daycare vs. now when literally all we do is sit at home, go on walks or go to the grocery store 1x week so I'm not sure how long we can realistically not see each other.
We have to keep paying our closed DC daycare for 3yo and 1yo to keep our spots. In mid-March, we moved out of DC to my retired parents’ house in a rural area. We couldn’t get our hours in without their help. They are going to burn out soon so we’re taking whatever leave we can accumulate to lessen the burden on them. It would be impossible for those of us with very young kids to telework during regular work hours without help – and our jobs require us to be available during core hours. As Feds, we are not eligible for the explanded FMLA program.
It’s some real BS that people employed by the federal government don’t get federal protections….but sadly that’s a tale as old as time….
My state has a stay at home order, but daycare is expressly exempt as “essential business” and a lot of daycares in my area are open. However my university-run daycare voluntarily shut in mid-March, about a week before our state’s SAH order. They are not charging tuition currently. The university president has guaranteed all university employees will remain in paid status through June 30. I am desperately hoping, but not that optimistic, that daycare can reopen by July 1. If it doesn’t and assuming I still have a job (not a sure thing), I would be happy to contribute partial tuition (at least 50%, possibly more) to help support teachers and staff. We love this daycare and the staff and will be devastated if it shuts permanently as a result of this.
We currently have no childcare and are fortunate that we’re managing pretty well without any. My biggest concern is my preschooler’s social development (especially since she’s an only child) and unfortunately bringing in a babysitter or nanny doesn’t fix that problem. As much as we love our daycare, if they don’t reopen by fall, I think we’re going to be looking into other daycares and preschools in the area. I’m really scared my child won’t develop normally if she goes a year or more without interacting with another child. In theory I like the idea of finding another quarantine family and being “quarantine buddies” (especially once the SAH order is lifted) but we don’t have anyone we know well enough to do that (ie., we wouldn’t be any other family’s first choice) which makes me feel guilty and like I’m failing my kid by not having more of a village here.
Maybe you could find someone through this site?
I live in a tiny college town so I doubt it ;) I’m not going to do anything while we still have the SAH order since I don’t want to advertise that I’m trying to break the rules. But once that is lifted, assuming daycare isn’t open, I might post on neighborhood Facebook groups and the daycare Facebook group to see if people want to do outdoor play dates at least.
Our kindergartener is out of school for the rest of the academic year, and her after care program stopped charging tuition (which was pretty low to begin with). Daycare for our toddler closed a few weeks ago and also stopped charging tuition. We both still have our jobs and are setting the extra money aside in the event we lose income or need to figure out extra childcare this summer (if we need to hire a nanny, for example, so that we can go back to work). We do have an after-school sitter who we’ve continued to pay, even though we’re not currently using her. I’m hopeful once the stay at home order lifts (maybe) at the end of the month that we can get some relief, or at least let my kids spend a couple of hours with their grandparents. We have been socially distancing to the extreme and are managing to both get some work done, but we’re exhausted.
I have one kid in daycare. It’s closed now, but we started keeping her home about 2 weeks before the official closing because we didn’t feel comfortable sending her. Daycare says it will reevaluate on May 6, but I don’t have high hopes that it’ll reopen that soon. We are currently paying 25% tuition to keep our spot. It would’ve been 75% but the daycare applied for, and got, some money through the CARES Act to keep paying the teachers.
I have no clue what we’ll do if daycare is closed through the summer. Our older child enough to fend for himself at home right now, but the younger kiddo still needs a lot from us. What we’re doing now isn’t sustainable; productivity has tanked. Older kid watching younger kid usually results in fighting because younger kid totally resists being “bossed” by her big brother.
In the current environment, I’m not sure how we’d even find a sitter.
We have/had one kid in first grade and one kid in full-time daycare. Schools closed for the year in mid-March; daycare remained open until fairly recently but we haven’t sent our 3 yr old there since mid-March because my husband is able to watch both of them at home.
Our daycare (allegedly?) paid employees until the center closed, although they didn’t ask for parents who were not sending kids to pay. So we’ve had a month with no childcare bills, which is nice.
Next month we’re going to have to start paying for our spot in a new center in the city we’ll be relocating to, which will remain open as it’s affiliated with a hospital. Very thankful we won’t have to pay for two spots (current city, future city) which is what we were anticipating.
I have one kid (3) in Montessori school. His last day to attend was March 5. I paid full tuition for March and April but I will not be paying for May. I don’t expect it to be open before the Fall. I may re-enroll him then, but I will likely lose my job soon so I’ll decide that when it happens. My SIL moved in with us and is helping with child care while DH and I work FT. We’re not seeing grandparents because they are high risk and live far away.
In Virginia. Our governor allowed daycares to stay open, provided the daycare follows additional restrictions on social distancing, smaller class sizes and prioritizing children of essential workers. My daycare remains open as a result. We are not sending our child but still pay
In NYC with a toddler and expecting another any day now. We are still paying our nanny, though we have not had her come since March 11. We adore Nanny and trust her, but her husband is an essential worker, she has kids of her own who are home from school, and she cannot get to us without public transit or a taxi. Given my pregnancy, we did not want to take any chances. We only just stopped paying our housekeeper though she has also not come since March 11th. I would feel differently about continuing to pay housekeeper if this were her only job. However, her “day job” is as a nurse and she has been picking up extra shifts at her hospital. We are struggling with both parents WFH but I will be on maternity leave soon (though obviously a much different leave than I initially imagined!), which will help. Also, DH runs his own company that given the situation, has zero revenue currently (but still a decent amount of work with clients and whatnot, if that makes sense).No income from him at the moment or for the foreseeable future. But with things being way down, it also means he can lean more on his employees and help me more during my leave than he would if his business were in full swing as it ordinarily would be right now. We will keep paying nanny because we ultimately will need her back, she is like family, and I really don’t know what she would do financially otherwise if we did not. My toddler was enrolled in a slew of enrichment classes at various places where we pre-paid for the semester . All of those places have been closed with no mention of pro rated refunds/credits for future classes, etc. so that is also up in the air.
I’m very jealous of families with au pairs right now.
My state has shelter in place at least through 5/3. Last day at preschool was 3/13. Paid half tuition for April voluntarily, not sure what we’ll do for May. Desperately want to hire a PT sitter so that my kid’s brain isn’t turned completely to mush by Doc McStuffins and Paw Patrol as DH and I both have to work FT still.
Our daycare shut in mid-March and stopped charging tuition but has asked for donations in order to keep paying the staff without taking too much from their reserves so they’ll still have a buffer when they can re-open. They also just got a loan through the CARES act which will help. We donated remaining March tuition and April tuition because we a) think it’s the right thing to do to keep paying the teachers, who are financially strained living in a VHCOL, b) we want the teachers to stay with the center and be ready to go when it can re-open, and c) we had access to a very generous employer match that we wanted to maximize. Now with the loan, not sure what we’ll do for May if they can’t open. We’re in the fortunate position that I’m on maternity leave with #3, so we’re not trying to juggle two parents working, but wow is it hard to manage 3 kids 4 and under solo! I’m so impressed with SAHMs who do this all the time. I’m also freaked out I may be laid off given all so using this as a “practice run” in case it becomes our new reality…
Two kids in full time preschool/daycare currently closed by the state through end of the school year. We are paying about 1/3 tuition as a donation as we love the school and want them to be able to retain as many teachers as possible or at least keep their health insurance – many have worked there 10-20 years. School is proving hourly optional zooms which we mostly don’t do, but it’s good to keep some school community going and the twice weekly religious programming is a good way to keep the kids’ usual routine. What I’m really anxious about is our deposit for private school kindergarten for next year…
We have an after school/summer nanny who is not coming due to social distancing. We are still paying her and will continue to do so unless a pay cut for one or both of us changes our ability to do so. We may need to reevaluate in the summer when she would normally be full time, as we’d be paying her $1000/week to not work. But, I’m cognizant of the fact that we are a big part of her income during the school year and her entire income during the summer. We love her, and we are lucky to have her, and we want her back when this is over.
Our older two are in middle school and have been helping with their little sister some. Mostly, they are just playing with her, but it’s easier to work while she’s outside when she’s out there playing with her older siblings. We live in a really insulated little neighborhood, so it’s pretty safe either way, but it gives me comfort. They’ve also helped her with some of her school work–working through phonics or math lessons. Sometimes, it’s enough of a treat to do work with them that she will do it a little more enthusiastically.
PR Anon says
DH and I opted to have my mom come at early end of pandemic and stay with us to care for 5mo when daycare closed in PA in mid-March and he was still going to office. We all practiced strict social distancing and DH cleaned up and changed clothes when returning home. She just went back home for 2 weeks (and will stay home!) while we both WFH. 4 days in… and man was that a luxury. Daycare hasn’t charged us, so we paid her. Will probably replicate this if closure continues on… which, with PA schools closing can’t imagine daycare opens anytime soon.
In Los Angeles the stay at home order came mid-March and all school districts closed but our private preschool was still open. We kept our 4 year old home out of an abundance of caution but still paid for another month+ as I was fortunate enough to WFH. The school decided to suspend payments mid-April but we decided to withdraw him permanently. He starts TK in August and looks like LA won’t start re-opening until May/June so DH and I will be home with him until then.