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Holidays & Sick Days at Daycare/Preschool

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Childcare > Holidays & Sick Days at Daycare/Preschool


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Working parents and preschool's frequent holidays

Sept 2012

HI, I have a question for full time working parents out there, particularly single Moms. I am a currently unemployed single Mom, having moved back to the country recently with my now 2 1/2 year old. He just starte preschool, but as I'm not working, I can pick him up and deal with the days and many weeks the school takes off. I donB4t know if they are exceptional, but they take a week in Nov, a week at Christmas, a week in April and another in June, not to mention the various days they take. I wonder 'what will I do when I have a full time job?' which for me will likely entail a 8:30 or 9:00 am to 6:00 or so, with 2 or 3 weeks vacation per year. Do you just eat up your vacations on being dependant on a preschool's schedule? Or is this school particularly vacation prone? or do there exist other options for those weeks a preschool is on vacation? Thanks for any clues. wondering Mom


Hi there, There are a number of options to ensure you have childcare (and can work) during school holidays. First, ask your preschool if they provide childcare during all or some of those breaks. Often a school with long breaks will not provide instruction but will provide childcare during those times -- for a fee. Second, research camps. There are many camps of all kinds of varieties offered during many popular breaks, but they do cost $. BPN posts camp information all the time. Third, options like a temporary nanny, nanny share, babysitter, etc. will also come at a cost. Fourth, sometimes a stay-at-home parent will offer to watch a few children during a break, but, never having taken advantage of such an offer, I do not know if they charge. Last, some employers offer back-up childcare with select providers for a reduced fee. Sometimes that is in the form of a daycare facility (e.g., Bright Horizons) or in-home nanny provided through a service.

I know, when looking at preschools, I went with one with as much overlap with my work holidays as possible and no long breaks, except for during the winter holiday. I know in advance that I have to use a week of vacation that week in December each year. It is a huge challenge finding a preschool that works for working parents. I wish you much luck in finding support for school holidays while being able to use vacation for real vacation! Been There


Now that your child has entered the world of "school schedules" you will find that family time off corresponds to school time-off from here on out. If you are using a home-based preschool or daycare, resign yourself to taking vacation when your provider does, because that's how it's going to be in kindergarten and onward.

You could also try to find a preschool whose holidays and vacations match those of your local school district. That way you can take advantage of local camps and resources like the JCC and YMCA which operate summer and holiday programs. Keep in mind that many stand-alone preschools shut down for the summer. So if you need year-round childcare you should either make sure they have a summer program or look for a home-based preschool. There are stand-alone preschools and childcare centers that do operate year-round, so look for these too. It can be done!


How many weeks vacation & sick does your daycare take?

Jan 2007

My partner and I are looking for some feedback on how many weeks vacation + sick time do people typically pay their home-based daycare providers. Thanks --Looking for guidance


We had our now five-year-old in a home based daycare for a couple of years and paid for a full twelve months of care. They took two weeks for winter break, one week for spring break, another in summer and a day off a month for personal business.

We now have another child in a home-based daycare and they are closed less frequently - two weeks for Winter break, one week (I think) at another time during the year and a few holidays. Again, we pay a monthly fee, and as was true for our son's daycare, if we take vacation, we still pay the full month's fee to ''hold the spot.'' Berkelely Mama


We are asked to provide 3 weeks of paid vacation, plus federal holidays. I hate to complain, because daycare workers certainly need a break, personally and financially . . . but this still seems like a lot! I have never received paid vacation (or holiday bonuses, etc.) from any of my own service-related jobs. When our own son is sick and we must miss work to stay home with him, of course this is not the daycare's fault and we have to pay for those days too. It really adds up! (On the other hand, I can't remember ever having paid for a sick day at our daycare.) I will be curious to see what others post. Anon
I own a very successful home based daycare. When parents sign their children up (and now with the new year). I give them a printed list of days that I am closed. I take all the holidays that the schools would take off like MLK Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc off. On Easter weekend, I take Friday and Monday off. I am then closed a week in the summer and from Xmas Eve until Jan 2nd. I am paid for all of my holidays and vacations.

However, if I have to close the daycare because I am sick, the parents do not pay for the days I am closed for my illness.

I look at it this way. If I was working for someone else, I would get paid holidays and vacations. I do a hard job and deserve a break. I also have bills to pay. If you take your child to a large daycare, you will most likely have to pay for the days they are closed for holidays and you will probably have to pay for your child's spot when your family goes on vacation. They do this, because they have to pay the daycare providers for their holidays.

Just because my daycare is in my home, it does not make me a babysitter. I am running a business. Although it is sometimes hard to discuss the finances in a caring profession. I AM a business and I run my daycare like a business when it comes to that.

So, after that long explanation, I think you need to ask your daycare provider what the policy is about holidays etc and paying. If they do not already have one, they may want to supply each parent with a copy of what their policy is and what days they are closed. Family Daycare Provider


My daycare provider takes too many paid days off

Oct 2006

Recently my in-home daycare provider added a new policy of 10 paid vacation days and I was wondering if this is common. I'd be interested to know how many others out there pay vacation for their provider. (In home- large family daycare)

I am completely on board with paying for childcare when *my family* takes vacation, some holiday and sick. Maybe this new policy bothers me because over the 2 years that I've been with her things keep getting added on. Example: 1st there were 9 paid holidays. Now there are 12, including Veterans Day and Columbus day. Then added were 7 paid sick days and now 10 paid vacation days.

If all paid days are taken (and why wouldn't they be if they are paid), this totals 29 days. She made the point that I get paid vacation with my job, so she should with hers. (This is more total time that I have with my job, that I've been with 10 years!) I pointed out that I have to accrue that vacation by hours worked, I don't get it automatically. AND that # of days I am able to accrue is also linked to years of service. She and I don't have an employer-employee relationship. It is not the same thing. She is an independent contractor. What's next, her her healthcare and taxes?

I also pointed out that what happens is I am paying twice for childcare in the same week. Either I am paying her (for the vacation)AND someone else for care for that week she's gone. OR I am taking off work (at this point unpaid, because I don't have any PTO left due to any of my own vacation taken plus taking off for sick kids) AND paying her. OR, my husband (an independent contractor)takes off work and doesn't get paid if he doesn't work. If we didn't pay her vacation, yes, we'd still have to take the time off (or pay someone else), but it's the fact that IN ADDITION to that we also now have to pay her also.

Am I crazy that this bothers me? Are my thoughts on this unreasonable and without merit? (I add that otherwise, I truly like my provider-she is great w/my kids, 2 DD's) Maybe it's because we are also financially barely making it that this also bothers me. Interested in your responses. Thank you
Feeling Squeezed


In my experience, most family daycares do take paid vacation. In fact, I am now looking for a daycare for my second child, and have just written down the schedule of the provider we're seriously considering.

She closes for 11 holidays a year (more than either my partner or I get at work), plus two week long vacations.

We are expected to pay ''tuition'' each month, just as we do at our son's preschool which also has vacations. I think there may be a few exceptions to this, but the general rule of thumb is that the parents pay for vacations.

It is a bummer, especially now that we have two kids with ''schools'' that have two different vacation schedules. It does mean we have to either miss work (using our precious vacation days) or hire outside help, but it's standard practice. Berkeley Mom


Our daycare provider takes the 12 holidays you referenced and more like 5 or 6 weeks of paid days off. And I think she deserves it, I think she needs it, and as difficult as it is to deal with.... we do, because we firmly believe our children are the best possible place they can be, bar our home, when they are with her. Your childcare provider is running a business, these are her hours of operation, and the terms of the contract she makes with her clients..... and if you think about it that way, it either works for you or it doesn't. You are probably not going to change her terms or hours, so you make peace with the topic because there is no better place for your kids or move on to place that better suits your needs. (This happens occassionally with our daycare provider's customers). A comparison between your work vacation accrual, holidays, etc. is probably not helpful.... it's her business, not anyone else's.
Yes, we have our kids in a famiy daycare that shuts down for two weeks a year - 1 week in the summer and 1 week during the Christmas period. Also, all the other holidays we get. Personally, it doesn't bother me since the caregiver also needs time with her family. This makes for a happy, well-rested caregiver and hence, some very happy kids in her care. It also helps that in the 2.5 yrs my kids have been with her, she has only shut down one day for illness. Maybe a childcare center might be more suited to your needs. Luv my family daycare
It's fairly common for home day care providers to take paid vacations and paid holidays. The day care to which I sent my son for 3 years took all federal holidays (I think there are 11 or 12 of them), plus 3 weeks of paid vacation every year. One of their three weeks of vacation was always the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, one was in late July, and one was some time in the spring. Each year on January 1, they gave their parents their vacation schedule for the year, so parents could plan ahead. They didn't take sick days (the day care was run by a wife and husband team -- if one of them was sick, they would hire someone else to cover), but since they took 3 weeks of paid vacation whereas your provider is only asking for 2, the total amount of paid time off is similar. I visited several home day cares before choosing, and the others that I visited generally had similar policies too.

It seems totally reasonable to me for home day care providers to get paid vacations and sick leave, like any other working professionals. And yes, I did have to pay another provider or take time off from work myself when my providers took a vacation. That's the nature of the business a day care provider is in -- should they not get to take vacations just because you'll need someone else to watch your kids when they do?

It seems to me the only cause for complaint that you have is that your provider added the paid vacation after you hired her. I do see that as an issue, given that you may have chosen her in part based on her previous vacation/holiday policy. Do you have a written contract with her that lays out her vacation and sick leave policy? If you do and she's changing it after the fact, and especially given that it's a hardship to you, you may want to talk to her about sticking with your original agreement. If you don't have a written contract with her, then I don't see that you have much grounds for complaint -- but I would recommend getting a written contract in place with her to cover the rest of the time you plan to keep your child with her, so that you won't have any more issues of this kind. Good luck! Diane


This is a major sore spot with all working parents. What she is asking for IS normal in my experience. (My son's daycare, a similar set up, takes 2 weeks at Xmas, 2 weeks in summer, plus all the major holidays.)

I know how frustrated you feel but I don't think you should feel as though you are being treated unfairly or abnormally. I think it is just one of those things we have to work around. Almost all family daycares have a similar setup. It doesn't work for them to plan their vacations around yours, because not all the kids' families would be gone at the same time. So an ''enforced'' vacation period is the only way the workers could have more than 1 day off at a time.

When you are shopping for a new daycare (now that you know), factor in that ''double care'' (times when you would have to get childcare when the center is closed) into the price and into your family budget. Many families including mine just plan their vacations around the school closures where possible. This is what we will all have to do later when our kids are in school, after all. (Although it's different when we are paying through the nose- I feel you.)

Sometimes families get together to hire a caregiver (sometimes even one of the daycare workers who needs the extra $$!) during the center's vacation days. This can help with the cost. And we sometimes are able to have retired grandparents come during those periods - they love being able to help in such an important way Squeezed but resigned


First I would like to say that I think every parent struggles with this issue at some point or another. It seems like a lot of your paycheck goes to the daycare provider. Still if you think about it, you actually make enough till have money after you pay her. Which means that in terms of dollars,your job is considered more valuable than hers. Mine is too and yet i struggle with that because nothing should be more important than taking of my kid right? Most people don't get good vacation and yet i think we could all agree it's not right. If she is good to your children and a good worker then do the right thing. You are basically taking your frustration form lack of adequate time on her..really you should take it on your employer or your government. I stayed home for a while and it dramatically changed my attitude towards day care provider and i think often their job is not considered like a ''real'' job and it should be. So be to her the kinof employer you would like to have...take the high road. However, I would sit down with her and talk about rules and how often they are expected to change...so that once a year she can rework the ocntract but not just whenever. ML
I am glad that you bring this up, because I completely agree with you! I have been in the same boat and have coughed up the money. You make an excellent point, though. She is an independent contractor! I think that it is fair that you provide vacation pay to a nanny who exclusively works for you. However, this is a different arrangement. Our previous daycare provider had similar policies and though I thought she was great, I didn't really like that I paid when I received no service. Now I found a wonderful daycare who is significantly cheaper and works all the time. She doesn't take sick days. Her daughter will cover for her if that is needed. The only days that she is closed are Christmas and Thanksgiving. I think that the daycare provider has every right to ask for all these perks, but that she may loose out on customers by doing so. You have the choice of staying with her or finding someone who doesn't take advantage of this. Good luck! JOJ
I don't see how a daycare ''center'' even if it is in a home, has these presumably ''floating'' vacation and sick days. Does she just call all the parents and say they are closed that day? If I were her, I would have just announced that day care was closed a certain week, and/or raised the rates. If I were you, I would just figure that what she is doing is the same thing. Figure it out over the course of the year--is it really a big enough increase that would justify switching daycare? anon
Our former day care provider (in-home day care), whom we absolutely adored, charged by the month, depending on how many weeks were in the month. She took all federal holidays (9 or 10?), approximately 7 days in the winter (Christmas through New Year's Day) and 2 weeks in the summer. She did not ask us to pay for her summer vacation days, but we paid for the federal holidays and the winter vacation. She did *not* ask us to pay in advance for sick days, but when she was sick, those days were paid because we had already paid for the month. In 2 years, I think she was sick only once or twice. Honestly, I would have happily paid for her vacation days, too. What we did was make sure that we took vacation at the same times she did. She was significantly more expensive than the previous day care provider we used, but exponentially better. So I guess you have to ask yourself if you really love the caretaker and how much it's worth to you. Even with all of the paid days off, it was less expensive than preschool is now, and with fewer days off! The fact that you are paying twice for childcare in one week is not her problem. Yes, that's what we all do: we either stay home with our kids or pay for childcare if our usual provider is unavailable. I agree with you, though, that it would be very frustrating to have additional costs added on to your childcare bill over time. Childcare is so expensive -- it hurts! When I felt a little bit like you do, I figured out what our daycare provider made per hour, and realized she had to pay healthcare and taxes out of that and how little it really was . . . to care for the most precious person in my life. On the other hand, if you don't absolutely love your provider, it might be too much and you might feel better finding a less expensive place. She has a right to ask for what she wants. I hope you can find a way to feel better about this. It is uncomfortable to be resentful at your daycare provider. Good luck! Anon
Time to find a new daycare! Look for one with a larger staff so if one person is on vacation or sick there is always someone to cover. I hope you didn't sign a one year contract or any such binding agreement with your current provider. I've been in daycare for a long time (20 plus years) and know that providers need their time off like everyone else, but it shouldn't be at the expense (monetary and emotional) of parents that employ them! Enough is enough
Daycare providers are some of the most hard-working and valued members of a community. In an urban area a space with a quality provider also come at a premium. When our first child started daycare, I admit that I was shocked and wondering about paying for days when my child was not receiving care. My partner and I basically live paycheck to paycheck so it has always been hard to pay for a day off for our provider and a second time for a substitute provider. Many providers go by the local schools calander ( like ours ) but we still have to pay the same amount every month of the year. One solution we have found helpful is to find other parents at the daycare/preschool in the same boat. We hire one of the assistant teachers or another care provider we know and alternate houses. It's a little cheaper, and when each parent takes a day to help, you dont have to take as much time off. We also try to take our vacations during the times that the school is closed. Hope this helps a little. What you describe sounds fairly common. Most of us work very hard without many benefits (holiday/sick/etc. time off). Try to remember how hard teaching/nurturing/loving 6+ kids is day in and day out. If you're happy with the care that your child is getting otherwise consider yourself blessed. anonymous
We ran into a similar situation once and I spoke to Bananas to get their take on it. They said that daycare providers really should not spring these big extras on the parents. Fortunately we had a good enough relationship with the provider that it was worked out to everyone's satisfaction. Of the other two daycare situations I was in, one was a long-time provider who put everything into a contract up front. The other situation was a nanny-share and the agreement was that the nanny could have two paid weeks off/year: one week chosen by the parents and one week chosen by the nanny. You really can't compare your vacation allowance to your daycare provider's: your daycare provider won't be taking care of any one child more than a few years. I can think of two options she has: 1) write the vacations into her contract and let the parents see the policy at the beginning, or 2) not take any paid vacations and raise her charges to compensate. Either way, she has to price herself according to what the market will bear, and she shouldn't change her policies without fair notice Been there, but it doesn't last forever.
I agree with you in that she's a contractor, not a permanent employee whose position comes with its benefits and sacrifices. Everyone who works as a contractor knows that you get paid by the hour or by the ''project,'' and you simply don't ask your employer to add benefit policies after the original contract/agreement has been established. No employer would agree to after-the-fact benefits without outstanding performance or renegotiation of the original terms and conditions. I've known in-home childcare providers moving to work for child care centers and preschools because they wanted to be permanent employees receiving salaries (rather than hourly pay) and vacation benefits. In the world of work, employers, either individuals or companies, will likely tell you to look elsewhere if you are an hourly contractor asking for additional sick/vacation pay.

As to paid sick days, I also have the following story to share: A few years ago we had a full-time nanny. She received a monthly salary (which was carefully calculated to equal the 12-month average of her hourly rate) plus 1 sick day per month, in addition to all paid holidays that I received from work (for example, I didn't get Columbus Day off, so she had to work on that day.) She was pretty good not to miss any regular workdays, but she also managed to call in sick once a month religiously.

After 6 months, however, she wanted to be paid based on the actual number of hours worked each month. I explained to her that the salary system was better because it was based on her full-time hourly rate plus holidays and sick days. Still, she believed that she would make more money the other way around and told me she would rather not getting paid holidays and sick days as long as I paid her by the number of hours worked each month. So, I went with it.

She never called in sick again (not only because she knew she wouldn't get paid but also because she was never sick!)

There are a lot of good, caring childcare providers out there, whose outstanding performance makes you want to provide them with additional benefits as a token of your appreciation. Start looking if you don't think the performance of your current childcare provider worth the 29 paid days she has asked for Chris


As a future childcare provider, I have looked around and think that this IS normal for daycares. I understand the financial burden childcare puts on a family, however from the other side, Childcare is a very demanding job in so many ways. The value of a good caregiver with whom you feel comfortable leaving your child each day is unmeasurable. Being a quality caregiver starts with caring for your self, making sure that your needs are getting met, and that you are getting down time so that when the kids come you are ready to give 110% (and that's what it takes). Burnout among childcare providers is very common, so just think of this paid vacation as an investment in the continued excellent care of your child. I am aware of the average rate for daycare, and doubt that your provider is getting rich doing this. Like you mentioned, she does have to pay her own healthcare, and probably pays a helper, taxes, food, supplies, etc..... not unreasonable
I think it's normal, including the paid days. I look at it as ''paying for the slot'' in the daycare, rather than an hourly thing. I'm not rich by any stretch, but I think that you should be fair to your childcare providers. If you like your provider and your child is happy and safe, I say pay it. There are a lot of crappy day cares out there so if she's good, she's worth it. We always knew well in advance when day care would close and would work out time off between my husband and I or friends at the day care or relatives. anon
I sympathize! Unfortunately for working parents, it is a seller's market. While I fully support paying daycare providers for reasonable vacation, I've found it is common to take an excessive number of days (one school took 46!). I did extensive interviewing at both daycares and preschools and found it very common for providers to take all 10 federal holidays (many of which private employers do not give, such as MLK, Columbus and Veterans' Days & Washington's BD), 2.5 days at Thanksgiving, a week at Christmas (sometimes two), a week in February, a week in April, and 2 weeks in summer. If you add it all up, it's about 7 (or 8) weeks of vacation, when most employers provide 2 weeks. If you had to pay a babysitter at $12/hour, it would add up to an additional $3780 per year in day care costs! I don't know how other parents cover it. It's not like you can send a baby or preschooler to camp for those weeks! It's a huge hassle.

I have a few suggestions: look for preschools that provide daycare for most of their vacation days, check out Claremont Day School--they're open year-round. Develop a list of places that accept ''drop-ins,'' (of course, they may be closed on the same days!), team up with other parents and hire a babysitter together. Best of luck! Wishing I had two months of vacation, too


After reading the responses to your question, I wanted to chime in with my experience. NOT all home daycares take that much paid vacation. My daughter's preschool is only closed for the 7 major holidays - the same ones that I get. I will not put my child in a preschool that takes paid vacation because I simply cannot afford it and there are plenty of facilities out there that understand this. I would suggest that you look for a daycare/preschool that takes school age children after school and on school holidays - my daughter's preschool does this so they are open on all those teacher inservice days, federal holidays (except the real holidays), and all summer long. I would also suggest that you look for a daycare with more than one provider. My daughter's preschool is jointly run by three women, so if one is out sick it is not a problem (just a little more chaos that day). Good luck
One thing to think about: If the daycare/preschool is asking parents to pay for its own vacations and public holidays, is it paying its own staff full salary during those days? I notice that some daycare operators/preschool directors seem to make a pretty nice salary themselves but get away with paying their own staff salaries barely above the minimum. If parents are expected to pay for those days an establishment is closed, I think at the very least parents should be assured that all staff are being paid too. If they're not, it sounds a bit greedy to me, to say the least. Candace

Daycare is increasing number of paid days off

Nov 2005

Our family daycare providers, which have been open for about 1 year, are asking for a big increase in their vacation schedule. The original agreement was holidays and 2 weeks vacation per year, all paid. Now they are asking for an additional week this year, another week at spring break and month off during the summer as well. We want to negotiate a fair and resonable plan for everyone. It's hard for us because I personally get no vacation or sick time at my job, so if we're paying for daycare and yet I'm not working, then I'm paying double. We all want our providers to have the breaks they need. What is your agreement with your daycare? How many paid vacation/holiday days to they require? Do you pay them for summers off? anonymous


The family day care that my son went to for three years took 3 weeks of vacation per year -- a week at Christmas, a week in the spring, and a week in July. This seemed reasonable to me, and I didn't mind that the vacations were paid. I think typically family day cares take 2 to 4 weeks of paid vacation.

Some preschools take very long breaks, including a month (or more!) in the summer. I didn't look at any of those preschools, because I knew that, as a working parent, those wouldn't work for me. My son's preschool takes 4 weeks per year (2 at the end of December, one is spring, plus the last week in August). This was at the upper limit of what I would have considered.

Your child's day care provider is trying to change from 2 weeks per year to 7!!! (3 weeks plus a whole month). In my opinion, this is way too many weeks, especially if they expect for all of this time to be paid -- and especially given what a large increase it is over what you previously agreed to (it's a 3.5- fold increase!) If they wanted to take one extra week, I would go along with it, but to expect you to foot the bill for such a large increase in their vacation time is, IMO, completely unreasonable. If it were me, I would flatly refuse, and if they won't agree to be more reasonable, I'd look for child care elsewhere. Diane


At our family daycare (which has been operating for 10 years) the providers take about 10 holidays + 2 weeks paid vacation each year. They choose the dates for their vacation and let the parents know a couple of months in advance so they can make plans. In addition, each family is entitled to 2 weeks of vacation when they can take their child out and not pay (any additional time missed we pay for). This seems very reasonable to me and comparable to most jobs.

I would definitely suggest talking to the other parents at your daycare to see how they feel, and perhaps talking to an organization like Bananas or CocoKids (Contra Costa County's excellent childcare referral service) to get their perspective on what's standard. Two months of vacation seems like a lot (unless you live in Europe) - but unless you can convince the providers to change their minds, you might be faced with a choice about whether to stay or place your child elsewhere. --good luck!


Did you sign a contract with your daycare provider? Did it (I hope) outline the days that the daycare would be closed? If so, legally, they cannot change the contract for it's duration. After that time, they may change it anyway they like, but you don't have to sign up with them again! 20+ years in day care
Our daycare has the usual holidays throughout the year (Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, etc) plus 2 other weeks, paid. I think that's standard and reasonable. In my opinion, your daycare is asking for way, way too much. Jen
I think that my day care provider is very reasonable. We pay for the major holidays off and two weeks per year. Only in the last 3 years has she asked for extra days; when her father passed away she took 4 days, Dr. appointments she took 2 days and she needed CPR training for her license and took a day. Hope this helps, Amy.
you should not have to pay for the one month summer closure. the rest seem in line- it is hard, but they have to live here, too. And I think good childcare workers need more time off than most other occupations in order to take care of themselves, in order to be able to be present and appropriate with the children. We pay for all closures except for summer- generally it aligns with when public schools would also be closed- Christmas 2 weeks, Thanksgiving 2 days, president's WEEK! and Spring Break week,plus the handful of Monday holidays thruout the year. It has helped for us to arrange trades with other families from the daycare when there are closures so as to not have to pay even more and/ or to miss less work. anon.

Day Care Policies: When your provider is sick

March 2005

Hi, I'm a new family day care provider working with infants. I did so much research and planning before starting my business, but there is a huge gap in either the information out there or just in child care in general (I suspect the latter): what to do when the provider is sick. Of course in my second week of providing care, I've gotten quite sick, and I really don't want to pass this on to the child in my care. I've asked around to other care providers, spoken with Bananas, and just racked my brain in general. There isn't really an answer. What do people do when their child care providers are sick? Do parents have a back-up? Do providers have a back up? How do you find those people? My ratio is so low that I can't afford an assistant, and I really want to offer something (at least a suggestion!) to my parents. Any suggestions and comments are welcome, from provider and parents both. sick provider


Dear Sick Provider, I'm not sure what to tell you exactly, but I can offer information on what my daycare provider does. She includes one week of sick time into her policy/contract for just this reason. She doesn't offer an alternative, that is up to us. So far, we have just used our own sick time from our jobs to cover when we need to. Sometimes a family member can help out too. I have seen a sign on a business here in Berkeley on 6th Street called something like 'the sick child day care'. I've wondered if they actually offer drop in service when kids are sick. Or, perhaps they are a referral service. Interested to know what others day care providers policies are....

Daycare's excessive vacations

Sept 2004

My daughter has just started daycare at a wonderful little in-home daycare, but I am extremely shocked to find that many places, including ours, close for up to 5 or 6 weeks a year for holidays/vacations, in addition to another 9 or so holidays, and families are still obligated to pay their regular rate. This is in spite of the fact that many of us who work full time and cannot take as much time off, must find alternative childcare during those excess weeks, essentially paying double in childcare 6 weeks out of the year!

I am wondering if this a commonly accepted practice? I suppose it is a precursor to when they begin school, but it seems a bit excessive. I would love to hear other parents' opinions on the matter and whether this is typical, in which case I have to just suck it up and deal! Overextended parent


I too was surprised when I looked for preschools. Our preschool is closed 5 weeks/year plus holidays (which, surprise, included Valentine's Day.) Another is closed for 7 weeks/year, including most of August. One doesn't even run preschool in the summer, but has an alternative program. The best coverage I know of is offered by the Claremont Day on Claremont at Woolsey, closed only one week/year, plus holidays. My husband and I have flexible schedules and work near home, but it must be near impossible if you both have set hours and commute. NotSureHowOthersDoIt
In my experience, home-based daycares or preschools will have several weeks of vacation per year, simply because it is a small business and those running them need a break. We chose to have our oldest daughter at a large center (St. Johns), which was perfect for her personality and for our schedule. The center was only closed for a few days during Christmas break. The caretakers rotated their vacations so that parents didn't have to take any time off during the rest of the year. The downside is that a center is typically more expensive than a home based daycare, partly for this reason. Our other children were in a home-based daycare and preschool because we felt the smaller scale school suited them better. We knew that these home-based schools would be closed for several weeks during the year before we enrolled our kids, but we felt that it was worth it. What has worked for us, it to have one of the teachers at the small preschool earn extra money during the closure by coming to one of the parents' houses and taking care of several kids. Also one set of parents at our preschool had a nanny, who was willing to babysit some preschoolers during school vacations. You might also see if any other parents would be willing to babysit your child in exchange for you doing the same for them during school closures. anon
Times like that when I wish we lived closer to family for back up day care in emergencies, etc! My son is in a home day care and vacations are definitely a drawback. My daycare provider closes for all major holidays, plus any holiday that herkids school is closed. She closes for the week between Christmas and New Years, spring break and a week in the summer! I have been fortunate to have jobs that respect my role as ''mom first'' and I also have the opportunity to work from home when necessary (although it's extremely challenging with a 2 year old in toe)! I want my son in a home day care environment right now so we just bite the bullet on it and keep the other benefits in our minds......... Rosie
I think five to six weeks is too excessive. I have been a daycare provider for over twelve years, and for the longest time was open year round. For the last three years, I have begun to close at christmas time only, and then only from christmas eve until new years day. This is a much look forward to and much needed break. It doesn't inconvenience parents because most people take time off around the holidays or grandparents visit etc. I think parents should ask up front what the vacation schedule is and then if it is too dificult find care at another facility. Good Luck
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