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What childcare options can help me return to work?

Not every type of childcare is likely to be available or an option to every parent for a wide range of reasons. Options that you might have include:

  • In-home care, such as a nanny or childcare service.
  • Nanny-sharing, in which multiple parents share the cost of an in-home caregiver for their children.
  • Daycare, including drop-in childcare facilities that may take a child for several hours or longer on short notice.
  • Family members, such as a grandparent, who can watch the children during the workday.

If during the pandemic your children were in a childcare pod, in which you had joined another family or two to share childcare responsibilities, this still might continue to be an option even if you return to work. So it might be a good idea to ask in your network.

Only you can decide which form of childcare is best for you and your family. Not everyone has the budget to pay for full-time, in-home care. Some people do not work set hours, or they often work outside of the standard 9-to-5 workday when most daycares are open. You may need to find a creative solution for your particular case. Luckily, many resources are out there to help you find options and a set of Child Care Instructions can give important details about your child's needs and your expectations to any caregiver you select.

Don't forget, daycare businesses have contracts that describe responsibilities for parents and the daycare establishment for a reason. For private nannies and other private caregivers, a Child Care Contract lets you get your agreement in writing.

How can I ask my employer for childcare benefits?

Remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of the relationship between employers and employees. After a year or more of working from home, many employees do not want to return to the same old office environment and work schedule. Some may find that they now have more power to insist or negotiate changes, especially for childcare.

Before asking about childcare benefits, it is a good idea to find out what your employer may already offer. Many employers offer some type of childcare benefits, such as on-site childcare, discounted daycare rates, or flexible scheduling. Other benefits may include flexible spending accounts that help offset the cost of childcare. If none are offered, you may want to ask if your employer might consider these in the future, and how you might provide input.

How do I talk about childcare needs and work expectations with my employer?

Letting an employer know about childcare needs can be tricky. You may not want to provide too much detail to your employer, but making them aware of your expectations for flexibility can be rather important. Some state laws say employers cannot treat workers differently because they have family care issues. Other states do not offer those protections.

The balance between work and home life is not easy to get right. Having a clear understanding of what your employer expects of you can help you figure out how to meet those demands while setting boundaries. Clearly communicating your schedule, particularly when you will be unavailable, is a key element to setting those boundaries.

How can I deal with a daycare or childcare emergency if I cannot leave work?

It is often tough to let someone else care for your child while you are at work. It may be even harder if something goes wrong and you cannot get away from the office. In the event of an emergency, you can give your nanny or caregiver advance permission to do certain things for your child if you are not there or cannot be reached.

For example, you might use a Childcare Authorization form to name the child's nanny or caregiver as a trusted person when you are not around. If you want to give someone power to make decisions about your child on a longer-term basis, you may need to sign a document called a Power of Attorney for Child.

In addition, these forms may be helpful if you need to rely on a trusted friend of family member to be there for your child:

  • Letter to School, which lets school officials know a certain person can pick up the child or provide other types of care.
  • Consent for Medical Treatment of a Minor, which gives someone the power to agree about the kinds of medical medical treatment that can be given to your child when you're not available.

Lining up the right support can help ensure your return to the office goes smoothly.

To learn more about your rights and options when it comes to setting up childcare, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice today.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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