Drop-in daycare is not as easy to find as full-time daycare
or even part-time daycare
, but it is becoming more popular and can be a fantastic alternative to a babysitter for families that need on-demand child care. The hours of drop-in child care centers can vary and while some are only open during regular hours, many are open late so that parents can plan extended evening activities. Some are also open on Saturdays and Sundays and provide weekend daycare
. Others even offer overnight daycare. Regardless of the hours of operation, a drop-off daycare can be a great for parents who need back-up daycare when their main child care provider is sick. These child care programs can also give stay-at-home moms or dads the time they need for solo activities without worrying about the well-being of their child.
Drop-in daycare can come in various shapes and sizes, from a small home daycare, to a large center and even a drop-in child care franchise. However, the inherent flexibility of home-based daycares makes them more common as a drop-off child care option. Because drop-in daycares are usually more focused on fun activities rather than pre-academics (especially during evening hours), toddlers and preschoolers themselves will often ask to go! Despite being “drop-in,” it's also always prudent to call ahead because staff-to-child ratios must be maintained in licensed child care programs, and there may not be available openings if you come by at the last minute. Most drop-in centers also require advance arrangements for infants, so it's always best to ask about the process before scheduling your child for the first time.
Child care providers and caregivers will usually have the same training as full-time daycare employees. In fact, many full-time teachers and caregivers also work part-time at drop-in daycare centers. However, parents should always ask for a State license or County permit, and confirm that all employees have received the proper training and undergone the required background checks. While more expensive per hour than most full-time child care programs, drop-in daycare cost of is often not much higher than paying for a babysitter (although an annual registration fee may be required.) Some drop-in daycares even offer tuition discounts if your child will be attending on a fixed schedule, so be sure to inquire if you plan on using drop-in child care services regularly.