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 child care centers (including some in the Emory Child Care Network)
Internet listing services
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)
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)