What's Your Back Up Plan?

By: Audrey Adelson, MSW, WLCP

November 06, 2012


Most of us with small children don’t think about it until some sort of crisis arises – our child care provider

tells us that she is going on vacation next week or we receive a call at work from our child’s day care

center or school telling us to come and get our child because his nose is running and he has a fever. The

reality is we all need to have a back-up care plan - or two - or even three. This is especially true as we

enter into the cold and flu season and with escalating concerns over the spread of H1N1.


According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, businesses are asked to keep employees out of

the workplace if they exhibit flu-like symptoms and establish alternative work arrangements where possible

to help prevent the spread of disease this season. It is important for everyone that employees heed this

recommendation for themselves, their co-workers, and for their children by keeping kids home from school

or day care when they are showing flu-like symptoms. The WorkLife Resource Center has compiled a list of

helpful suggestions for parents to help them secure back-up care plans for their families.


1. Do your research.

    Learn about your organization’s policies regarding time off, sick time and flexibility for

    both you and your partner. You may want to speak with your manager about the issue and how he or  

    she can work with you with regards to coming up with a back-up care plan. Be sure to discuss these

    issues before a crisis arises.


2. Explore various scenarios.

    The back-up care plan you come up with may vary depending on your situation. If a child’s school is  

    closed for the day, you may find more options than if your child ill. Devise back-up plans for the various

    scenarios that you come up with.


3. Explore providers that offer emergency back-up and drop-in care.

      Relatives, friends and neighbors

      Part-time sitters, nannies or nanny shares, family day care providers

      Some Hospitals

      Some child care centers (including some in the Emory Child Care Network)

       Internet listing services

      Nanny Agencies

      Networking groups for parents and the CDC Parent Network LISTSERV

      College student job boards and career services offices

         (including the new Emory Employee-Student Job Network)

      Dependent Care Resource and Referral Provider (BrownRichards & Associates)

      Church Synagogue


4. Thoroughly check out any and all plans.

    It is wise to call and schedule visits with any and all providers you are considering or lining up for back-

    up care. Test out the providers for your child sake as well as your own ahead of time. If you are able, 

    spend some time there yourself with your child to help he or she feel comfortable. Use the same quality

    indicators you used in selecting your regular provider. Who do your parents trust to make decisions for

    them when they can no longer make rational decisions for themselves?


5. Plan ahead.


    Be sure to complete any necessary paperwork such as registration forms, providing medical and

    vaccination records and emergency contacts. Compile and make copies of important family information 

    and favorite activities, etc. to share with new providers that don’t see your child as frequently.


6. Do Onto Others.

    Utilize back-up plans in place of sending your child to day care or school sick. Not only is it

    uncomfortable for your child, but it is hard on their caregivers and it exposes other children and their

    families to illness as well.


7. Communicate with your regular provider.

    If your child is sick, it is important for you to remain in contact with his or her teachers and/or center

    directors. Let them know why your child is out of school allowing them to keep their eyes open on the

    other children in their care.


8. Stay home yourself.

    Take the day off if you are able and care for your child. Work from home if you can or share the

    responsibility with your partner and take turns caring for your little one.


9. Teach and practice healthy hygiene.

    It is very important for parents to take every precaution possible to protect themselves and others in  

    the household from getting sick. Be sure to teach and follow CDC recommendations on how to prevent

    the spreading of colds and flu’s.


10. Know that all planned child care arrangements are disrupted at times.

     Every parent needs to have a back-up care plan - or two - or three.



For more information on creating an emergency back-up child care plan:

Emory Work-Life Resource Center

BrownRichards & Associates

Emory Employee-Student Job Network

Emory Child Care Network

A Friend of the Family


Bright Horizons (Community back-up care available at some locations)