What Does the Future of Childcare Look Like?

We had the opportunity to interview Tim Allen, the CEO of Care.com, the digital platform that provides comprehensive solutions for finding, managing, and paying for childcare and more, about what life might look like this summer and how working parents can navigate the future during this new, quarantine-style world. 

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How do parents navigate going back to their workplaces while schools and daycares remain closed?

“One thing that’s been abundantly clear to everyone these last few months is that childcare is simply essential for working parents. That means that access to childcare will be critical to our economic recovery. In fact, in a recent survey, we did with our members, of the more than 1,000 who responded 98% said childcare is crucial for them to get back to work. With daycares and schools closed, we expect that more families will look to hire in-home caregivers as parents return to their workplaces. In-home care is in abundant supply with a workforce of professional nannies, displaced teachers, daycare workers, and college students. In addition, having one person come to your home to care for your children is far less daunting to some parents right now because it enables them to more closely manage the number of people with whom their kids are in contact and to control the environment with things like regular handwashing.”

What are you hearing from parents about those concerns going forward?

“They are concerned about bringing caregivers into their homes and concerned about their kids going back to daycare. In our survey, more than half said they wouldn’t feel comfortable putting their child back in daycare and ¾ of those parents say they’re now more likely to hire in-home care. As a parent myself, I get it and expect that this will be an on-going discussion in most households for many months. At the end of the day, each parent has to make the decision that best suits their family.”

What do you think the childcare landscape will look like in the coming months?

“Clearly there will be changes inside daycares to control class sizes, interactions and the ability to keep things sanitized. Exactly what they will look like remains to be seen; we’re watching some of the European countries who are slowly started to re-open. And again, with daycares closed and even after they reopen, we anticipate many families will turn to in-home care as their new childcare solution.”

What about the summer?

“Many camps and summer programs are canceled. While it’s true that many camps and traditional summer programs are canceled, there is actually some good news: we parents have some time to solve for that and make alternate arrangements. One of the most challenging aspects of the last few months was how quickly schools and daycares closed. Overnight, we were all scrambling to be stand-in teachers as well as parents all while trying to work. Now with the luxury of a little advance notice, we can make new plans. Not surprisingly, most of the camps and extracurricular programs are being adapted for a digital world. We have a service—Care.com Explore—where thousands of classes and programs are now available virtually. From music to video production to art to science…it’s all there and you can put together a pretty fun summer for your kids.”

If parents are hiring nannies or sitters, what should they do to ensure a healthy environment, given the pandemic?

“It’s essential that parents and caregivers have candid conversations on this and are clear about expectations while on the job. When a caregiver is in your home and with your child, you have the right to set the house rules. For clarity, we encourage parents to have a nanny contract where everything is mapped out from salary and hours to responsibilities and yes, to expectations about maintaining certain protocols surrounding COVID-19. We encourage both families and caregivers to follow the CDC protocol guidelines and, on our website, we have recommendations on specific questions to ask during the interview process to help ease concerns.”

What else should parents think about going forward?

“The parent/caregiver relationship is unique. On the one hand, the caregiver becomes a part of your family; after all, you’re entrusting them with your child. On the other hand, you’re now a household employer and that comes with certain obligations, like paying your caregiver over the table. Our Care.com HomePay team often hears from parents who are concerned that their caregiver won’t want to be paid on the books and here’s what we counsel them:

Paying your caregiver legally is more than just the law; it’s protection for the caregiver, someone who is now a part of your family. During these last few months, while parents have been home, caregivers who’d been paid legally had access to paid sick leave, paid time off, and unemployment benefits, as well as any help offered by the federal government. Those were real benefits and real dollars at a time when it was desperately needed. As parents look to hire in-home caregivers, we urge them to start the relationship on the right foot: paying above board. Is there anything else you’re hearing from parents right now? Knowing how intertwined care and work are, we were curious if these last few months have influenced how parents think about childcare from a policy standpoint, so we asked some questions in our survey and the results were eye-opening. A whopping 92% feel that childcare is something that should get more attention from the government and 68% said that childcare policies will impact how they vote in the election this November. I think it’s fair to say that childcare is a topic we’re going to be talking about for quite some time.”

A lifest‌yle writer whose work can be seen in Red Tricycle, Money.com, Livestrong.com and Redbook. When she’s not checking out new events, museums, and restaurants to keep her and her kids entertained, she can be found wandering around flea markets and thrift stores looking for cool vintage finds.


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