Providers of informal child care do not have to register with the city. They are only able to care for one or 2 children. This type of care is usually provided in the home by a mommy who cares for her child and then another child or two. It may include children of all ages. This type of care offers less socialization for baby since there are fewer kids but there is more individual attention and flexibility for mom and dad.
Relatives and friends
Are you lucky enough to live close by to a relative who is willing to care for junior while you’re at work? If so, are you lucky? This is a tough one. Having friends or family care for mini me is often free. Score! You also benefit from having someone who is truly interested in your baby’s well being. Score! Also, often your pal or kinfolk will share your values. Score! Besides if your mom raised you, she’ll definitely do a good job with your child, right? At the same time, it can be hard to tell your mother-in-law that you don’t agree with her child-rearing style. An older relative may also have a hard time keeping up with your little guy. You’ll have to judge how it might work for you. It may help to offer to pay. If your relative won’t take your money, offer to barter services or pay bills.
With friends, you can start a babysitting co-op. You can do this by getting together with parents in your building or neighborhood to swap babysitting services. This is childcare you work for but don’t pay for. You may rotate days of the week in order to have daily child care. Do this by arranging your work schedule to match the day you will care for the co-op’s kids. You can also just sit for your neighbor’s date night this week and they’ll return the favor next week. Get points for play dates and sleepovers and then use them when you need childcare. Some co-ops design intricate point systems and web sites to keep track of babysitting jobs. See Babysitter Exchange for a web site your co-op can use to organize your childcare.
On the opposite end of the commitment spectrum from the nanny, is the casual sitter. You might use this type of service if you need a onetime babysitter. You hire a sitter on a by job basis. Pay has to do with the age, experience, number of children, hours and time of the job. The sitter may range in age from teenaged to retired folks.
You may find a sitter in your community or through a referral agency. Try the Barnard Babysitting Agency for referrals to Columbia University and Barnard College students who have signed on to be sitters. You’ll have to pay a registration fee and per hour pay varies.
Metropolitan Sitters employs college students and grads as well as nannies. They can accommodate last minute sitting as well as overnight gigs and travel. They charge a monthly membership fee and $20-22 per hour.
Creative sitters is dedicated to engaging your child during sitting. They rely on creative play to do this. You’ll have to pay a monthly or yearly membership fee as well as $17-$24 per hour.
Instead of using one of these services, you can also advertise with craigslist.org or with your local college.
Another form of childcare you may be able to take advantage of has to do with drop off services. For example, Kid’s Funhouse in Ridgewood offers a drop-off service where your kiddo can play at this amazing indoor playground for two hours in the evening while you have a date break. Reservations must be made a day in advance. Sessions cost $25.
You can also take advantage of the YMCA’s Child Watch Program while you work out. Members are entitled to two hours at a time of childcare. Call early to reserve because spots fill up quickly.
If you don’t want to miss your baby’s milestones, you may choose to stay home with him or her. If you are able to do this you will have the most control over any other form of child care. You won’t have to worry about differences in value or philosophy. But look out for isolation! You can help this by joining other mommies in local groups or children’s play groups. Of course you’ll make sacrifices such as the loss of income and experience.
It’s not just mommies staying home anymore! Some parents take turns staying home with junior by week, month, year, or even time of day. Other parents choose to work from home to be closer to the little one. Some parents hire mother’s helpers to take some of the pressure off. Helpers can be part-time or full-time and can be a teen or an adult.
Getting a Referral
The New York City Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Consortium provides referrals to local child care providers. Call them at (888) 469-5999.
Early Care and Learning Council’s website provides information about what to look for in quality day care. It also lists local day care referral agencies.
Join Queens Mamas Childcare Exchange to share information with other mamas about child care options.
Dependent Care Tax Credit
If you paid someone to care for your child so that you could work, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit on your taxes. In order to claim dependent care for your child, your child must be claimed as a dependent and be age 12 or younger. As with all tax matters, there are many rules governing this credit. Please refer to the IRS website for more information.
Dependent Care Plans
Many employers have programs where employees can set aside pre-tax dollars for child-care. You should speak with your employer’s human resources rep in order to talk through the benefits and drawbacks of this type of program. Check out the IRS for more information.
Whatever you choose, if the provider is outside of the home, it is important that you visit the location, of course and keep an eye out for cleanliness, child proofing, nutrition, and general safety issues. You should also ask whether teachers have early childhood education degrees. If you are looking into a nanny or babysitter, take interviewing and checking references seriously. In all cases, workers should be cleared to work with children through criminal background checks and medical checks. Another good way to gauge quality is to ask other parents about their experience with the care provider before you make a judgment.
By: Sandy Jimenez