Options for Childcare in Austin, Texas
I am no stranger to the hunt for child care. My child care option fell through shortly following my return to work after having my daughter in 2019. I remember being so overwhelmed by the waitlists, the cost of nannies, and the endless deposits that seemed pervasive in Austin.
As I blindly navigated this rough terrain that no one had prepared me for, I felt so alone.
Turns out- I wasn’t alone after all. The U.S Census Bureau Center reports that almost 24% of children under the age of five are in some type of childcare arrangement nationally.
The search for child care has become an American rite of parental passage. Not only does this passage involve weighing the economic costs of child care; most importantly, it necessitates finding the right person and situation that meets your family’s ever-changing needs.
And like most rites of passage, the great child care search would not be complete without its own set of complexities.
The Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically complicated the availability of newborn care and child care in Texas. Parents seeking part-time or full-time care must now evaluate their needs through a different lens of safety and new family boundaries.
In a small survey conducted by our team here at Village Childcare, 80.8% of families interviewed reported that their childcare needs had changed since the start of the pandemic. Understanding the types of child care available to Austin residents is paramount, and the outcome depends heavily on your individual family needs.
In this article, you will find a summary of some of the child care options available to Austinites including, but not limited to:
- Mother’s Day Out
- Work From Home
Whether you simply need a few hours to yourself throughout the week or are re-entering the workforce after the fourth trimester, there are several options for families seeking organized care.
Types of Nannies
The unique circumstances of Covid-19 have helped to peak popularity around finding great nannies and nanny agency services in Austin, Texas. While there are many types of nannies that can meet your childcare needs, you are likely most familiar with a daytime nanny. A daytime nanny can be a full or part-time nanny who resides outside of your home and reports to work throughout the week.
They are generally responsible for taking care of your children as well as day-to-day tasks inside your home. Daytime nannies have become increasingly popular in demand due to daycare restrictions, degree of affordability, and various work-from-home scenarios becoming more popular in 2020.
A live-in-nanny is a nanny who resides within your home. Typically, these types of nannies have their own living spaces and are a paid monthly or weekly salary based on their years of experience.
A subset of a live-in nanny is an AuPair. In 2019, approximately 130 AuPairs were working with Austin, Texas families. AuPairs are contracted from abroad and exchange their childcare services for a stipend, transportation, and room and board. These nannies offer an alternative way to meet your child care needs while exposing your household to cultures from around the world.
ATX Doulas is an organization serving the Austin community that aims to support women and families throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. As part of their offerings, this organization offers postpartum doulas or night-nanny services to support and nurture the new family unit.
What is a Nanny Share?
A nanny-share is a type of arrangement that usually involves two families sharing a nanny who cares for their children at the same time, in one of the homes of the families. This relatively new child care alternative that has generated significant buzz over the last few years. This arrangement is appealing for families who are looking for private, individualized care, but also value socialization and affordability.
In a nanny-share, families share the cost of the nanny and work together to manage the nanny’s schedule that is mutually beneficial for both families.
When evaluating this arrangement, it is important to evaluate parent convenience and compatibility. Parent convenience relates to parents logistical needs around how close parents live with one-another, how close the children are in age, and if there are similar start dates for care.
Parent compatibility focuses on if the families have similar parenting philosophies, are looking for similar things in a nanny, and are approaching social distancing and COVID in the same way.
Clear expectations and communication should be at the forefront of the nanny-share agreement. This is especially true for nanny-shares started by friends, who assume because of their relationship, future conflict will be easy to resolve. We recommend creating an “expectations agreement” to outline your approach to expenses, communications, vacation/sick policy, and expected nanny responsibilities.
This approach is advantageous for families seeking meaningful interactions for their children while keeping the child-to-teacher ratio small. Given the impact of Covid-19 on child care, nanny-shares allow families to have their child care needs met while also maintaining their safety expectations for those in the agreement.
What Does a Nanny Cost on Average?
The Center for American Progress reports that 18% of a family’s income is used to cover the cost of child care for an infant, and 13% for a toddler.
When calculating the average expense of child care, you must factor in the city’s cost of living, child care experience, the ages and number of children requiring care, and the responsibilities or duties required of the nanny.
In some households, nannies also function in the capacity of a personal assistant. In addition to their childcare duties, they are also compensated for cleaning, cooking, laundry, errands, and managing the household altogether. Other nannies are hired for child care purposes only during working business hours.
Our Village team member, Samantha Kelly, is a mom of two, former nanny, and Village Childcare team member responsible for finding and interviewing nannies for families here in Austin, Texas. Based on Samantha’s vast knowledge of the nanny landscape locally, the cost of a nanny in Austin ranges from $18-$30 an hour. To see a complete breakdown on childcare costs in Austin, Texas, visit our blog post here.
Nannies are considered household employees and are legally required to be paid as such. This means that families pay a portion of their taxes. Additionally, Kelly states, “It is also considered standard to offer paid vacation and sick time, as well as holidays.”
Other cost considerations include educational materials, cleaning supplies, extra toys, and potential contributions to insurance.
What to Expect From a Daycare?
Daycare, either in-home or group center, is a traditional form of child care licensed by the state. This licensing ensures employees have the appropriate certifications and background checks needed to care for your child in a group setting safely.
In formal daycare settings, the state licensing agency also mandates child-to-teacher ratios, cleanliness, safety, and food standards, among many other things.
For Texas residents, Texas Health and Human Services has a database that allows you to search licensed facilities within the state. You can search their database here.
Some families find it helpful to create a list of questions when interviewing potential daycare facilities. These questions can range from anything concerning sick-child policies to the learning curriculum offered at the facility.
Daycare centers typically offer a structured day that involves indoor and outdoor play, meal and snack time, learning time dependent on your child’s age, and nap time. Some parents tend to find daycare more predictable in terms of operating hours and holidays as compared to private child care.
It is essential for parents and expecting families to consider daycare waitlists, registration fees, and any deposits required by the center. When researching facilities serving Austin, you might find waitlists as long as two years, which could drastically affect the child care scenario that meets your family’s needs.
While expecting his first child, Village Founder, Drew Giovannoli, experienced months of frustration and anxiety visiting daycares and paying for waitlists without any luck. As a first time parent myself, I am still on three waiting lists for Austin daycares, and my daughter is almost one and a half years old.
Operating hours, commute time, and personal employment hours must be considered when researching a daycare facility. Additionally, parents should seek information from the daycare regarding their policies and practices around preventing the spread of Covid-19 within the facility.
The Average Cost of a Daycare in Austin, TX
While daycare can be less expensive than private childcare arrangements, it can still impact your family’s budget.
In Texas, the Economic Policy Institute reported the average monthly daycare cost for an infant was approximately $777 each month and $589 each month for a toddler.
Comparatively, an average Austin family spends 25% of their income on childcare averaging ranging from $1,000-$1,500 a month.
Alternatives to Daycares and Nannies
It is crucial to identify your childcare needs and weigh them against the pros and cons of traditional nanny services and daycare centers. While one might benefit from the economic advantages of a nanny-share situation, it may not work with your hours of employment and vice versa.
Considering all of your options and definitive research will help you determine the right move for your family.
Given the current environment, your childcare arrangements might look more like a patchwork quilt than a woven masterpiece, but hey- you are doing great!
Here is your mid-article reminder that parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, and we’re all doing the best we can! And that, my friend, is more than enough.
With the need for flexibility and alternative care arrangement becoming more critical than ever, babysitters, extended family, and care pods are becoming less obsolete.
Co-working spaces with onsite pay-by-the-hour child care are also available across Austin. These alternative arrangements are an excellent option for telecommuters looking for an hour here or there for conference calls while ensuring their children are safely cared for.
Whether creating nontraditional arrangements or utilizing multiple sources to meet your needs, clear communication and safety should be of utmost concern.
Follow the best advice out there: Do your research and expect the unexpected.
Mother’s Day Out
While Mother’s Day Out (MDO) formerly focused primarily on the needed “me-time,” parents are now considering MDO as a serious childcare option. With more parents working with flexible, telecommuting-friendly employers, MDO is a reasonable childcare option.
There are a few things to consider about Mother’s Day Out. While it is a significantly cheaper option (especially MDO’s serving Austin, Texas), the care is typically on a very, part-time basis and operates only a few days a week. This part-time operation usually results in some sort of waitlist for children.
Additionally, MDO’s typically follow their city’s school district calendar. Since they are closed for holidays and summer vacation, this can impact childcare needs during certain times of the year.
Utilizing a friend or family member is an alternative child care scenario. Like all other options, there are pros and cons of hiring someone you know personally, be it family or friend.
Outlining clear expectations and engaging in clear communication should be the foremost concern. Payment terms should be defined for both family and friends alike, and expectations should be determined ahead of time.
When choosing this option, your child likely already has a relationship with your family or friend caregiver and will probably be very comfortable in this setting. This comfort level could help ease various milestones and transitions more than a traditional daycare or nanny-share setting.
Furthermore, your trust with the individual is already established with a family or friend caretaker. This relationship can reduce the anxiety that might arise when you leave your child with the caretaker.
For toddlers, it might be helpful to discuss the learning activities planned throughout the day. With no set curriculum in these types of arrangements, unstructured playtime can occur more frequently than traditional daycare.
Work from Home Part-Time
Traditional child care has become more and more complex throughout 2020. As parents are required to telecommute now more than ever, part-time and full-time childcare at home has become a favorable option.
If your employer offers you a work-from-home option, you can structure your child care accordingly.
As with enlisting a family or friend, hiring a babysitter or engaging in part-time or full-time nanny-share to care for your child while working at home can be advantageous. Appropriate screening for qualified and safe applicants is mandatory, as with all child care scenarios.
Unsure where to start?
Village Childcare has teamed up with the Austin Chapter of Partners in Parenting for their first-ever virtual series for expecting parents. Partners in Parenting’s free prenatal groups are designed to educate expectant families on various topics- from feeding to child care. The 4-week virtual series will teach parents how to prepare for the 4th trimester. Sign up can be found here.
Additionally, a nanny agency, virtual child care board, The Village Childcare FB Community, and word-of-mouth referrals are a great starting point.