What To Do When There Isn’t Enough Care

Searching for child care can be a long, exhaustive process. With these difficult times, it seems more and more providers have long waiting lists, are freezing enrollment due to low staffing, or have just had to close due to the pandemic. If you are having trouble finding suitable care, consider these options:

  • Tell your story to your city, state, and national legislators so they will be aware of what families are struggling with today. They can design legislation, which can help alleviate the problem. A personal letter or phone call is very effective.
  • Search for care in a different location—on your way to work, near work, or near a public transportation stop on your route to work. You may also want to try a different rout to work and search for options along that commute.
  • Make a short-term plan for child care, but don’t give up until you find the kind of care you’re looking for. 
  • Consider a shared care arrangement by sharing one in-home caregiver for two families. Offer to pay the caregiver double the going rate if you can. Or, if your schedule permits, offer to share care with a coworker on a different shift so you can take turns caring for each other’s children.
  • Get on the waiting list at every program that would work for you. Sometimes openings come up unexpectedly. Waiting lists may be shorter than anticipated, so don’t let a long projected wait keep you from getting on a list.
  • Talk to friends, neighbors, people at your work or school, place of worship, or community centers. Has anyone faced the same challenges? How did they find care? The may even have resources you may not be aware of. 
  • If possible, consider changing your work hours so care is more available. For example, some family day home providers fill their first shift spots before their evening spots. If you have a spouse, consider working different shifts so someone is always there with the children.
  • Discuss your needs with your employer and coworkers. If many of you are having the same difficulties, your employer needs to know. There is a full range of child care benefits which employers can and do provide.
  • Encourage employers to adopt family friendly policies, such as using sick leave for sick children.
  • Encourage your local school to offer before and after school care.
  • Participate in community planning groups and community surveys so that the community knows of unmet child care needs.
  • Be sure you’ve considered all the types of care available to you.

Visit our Virginia Education and Action Center to learn more about the issues involved with promoting the health and safety of children in child care and how you can work with us to promote quality child care settings for children throughout Virginia.