How Can I Find Emergency Child Care at the Last Minute?

Girl is Feeling Sick and Wrapped in Blanket
Teresa Short Getty

Question: How Can I Find Emergency Child Care at the Last Minute?

I don't have family around, and my daughter's mom is deceased. How can I find emergency child care at the last minute, in the event that my child is too sick to go to school, and I cannot miss work?

Answer: Many single moms and dads share your predicament. Without having family members around to help with emergency child care, it may seem like you have no options at all. However, do not despair. You always have options--sometimes you just have to think creatively to uncover the ones that will work. Use the following steps to help:

  1. Make a list. Sit down and make a list of everyone you know. Chances are, there will be someone on the list who can help, or who knows someone who can help.
  2. Narrow it down Identify which individuals on your list have had prior contact with your daughter. Perhaps she has been to their house for a play date, or she knows them from your single parent support group.
    In addition, identify which individuals on your list are most likely to be available because they either do not work, or work an alternative schedule.
    Finally, if your daughter is old enough to discuss the issue with you, ask her which individuals she would be most comfortable with.
  3. Make some calls. Begin to call the individuals you've identified, and ask whether they might be able to take care of your daughter for the day. If you can do this the night before, even if you only suspect that your daughter is coming down with something, that's even better. Generally, the more notice you give, the more likely you will be to find someone who is willing to help.
  4. Consider professional emergency child care options. Keep in mind, too, that some child care facilities also offer child care for sick children. 
  5. Speak with your employer. Finally, don't overlook the importance of speaking with your employer about your need for emergency child care, as well. It's possible that they will allow you to work from, use some flex-time, or trade schedules with another employee until your daughter is better.