Finding After School Child Care Is So Hard!

Updated on August 16, 2013
N.P. asks from Santa Rosa, CA
29 answers

It's so hard that I'm very tempted to pass on this job offer and give up. The logistics seem too difficult! I need to find someone to pick my nearly seven year old up from school and keep her safe from 2:20pm till 6:00pm when I can pick her up! Daycare after daycare seems to have a cut-off age of five years old! Why do so many places refuse to watch older children?

I have no nearby family and I need to find someone trusted who can be counted on to pick her up on time, watch her for four hours and give her a snack. It seems simple enough, but apparently impossible. It sucks that the first job offer I get in a year is about thirty miles away from home and her school. It's a good offer and will allow us to finally get out of the debt we've incurred because of my husband's job loss in 2010. (He still hasn't found a job comparable to what he lost so we've been drowning these past few years.) But it's so far away that I can't be there to pick her up from school and if something were to happen and she needed me to come get her, I'll be 30 minutes away with no traffic. (HA no traffic...)

I just don't know what to do. We need the money but I don't want to put my baby at risk. I wish my mother was here. =(

I have an appointment to tour a place called La Petite Academy that seems like they may work out, as they take school age children, but they are a 20 min round trip from my house and I don't know if anyone there will be willing to pick her up from school that far away. Plus, it sounds expensive. They wouldn't tell me the price over the phone. They said that my individual price would be assessed during the tour. Sketchy? Argh!

I don't really have a question. I'm just panicking/venting. None of my local friends can help. I have no local family I guess if I had to ask something to make this post legit it would be, "Why are there so many child care solutions for infants and toddlers but once they pass that age, no one seems to want to watch them? And why is this stupid school system devoid of after school care when so many others manage to swing it!"

Feeling very frustrated, overwhelmed, alone, nervous and sick.



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So What Happened?

La Petite Academy called this morning to cancel my tour. They aren't taking any more school age children and they don't do pickups at her school. I called the school and talked to the lady in the front office. Our school has no after school childcare program, and according to her she has no idea how to help me. Her advice was, "Talk to the other moms and find out who they use." I was a member of the pta last year and talked in passing to the PTA president when I was job hunting then. She doesn't use child care so she doesn't really have any ideas to help me.

The only after school program our school has is something called "Cool School" but that's not after school care. It's a program to help struggling students catch up with reading and whatnot. My kid is above her peer group academically so it's doubtful she'd get a recommendation by her teacher to enroll.

We'll try the YMCA, but since the school said no buses for after school care come to this school, I'd have to hire someone to transport her to the program, or move her to a school that the YMCA does bus to.

What a mess. My husband said we may have to transfer her to a school that does have an after school program with an available slot for her. What a disappointment. Our district doesn't have a lot of money so I suppose they don't have the funds to provide after school care, and according to the very unhelpful office gal, no one picks up for aftercare at our school.

I may have to pass up this job opportunity and hope to find one that is part time and flexible, which has not worked out for me so far. I'm so frustrated. From my perspective, our society is not child friendly. Our schools are broke and after school care is like a rare bird you have to carefully search the treetops for, only to find those birds don't live in your area of the world.

/EDIT - We have her on a waiting list to get into a school in the next district over that has a YMCA aftercare program right on campus. We're number 6 on the list but I have no idea if that means we have to wait a month or a year. Whatever the case, we'll jump at the opportunity when it presents itself even if I have to pass on this job right now. Getting her into that school will just mean I have the aftercare option when another opportunity comes my way later.

Where's Mary Poppins when you need her!!

I really didn't plan ahead in terms of child care because my husband and I always planned for me to be at home with her through her elementary years. Even if he lost his job we were confidant he'd be able to find another comparable one since he's always been able to in the past. These last few years have been a real learning experience for us in terms of planning a permanent residence around even the most impossible scenario. Most of the people at my kid's school have family to care for their kids if both parents work. I see lots of grandparents or older aunts and uncles coming to pick up. I don't have local family and would feel like it would be an imposition to ask someone's nana to watch my kid too.

Things will work out for us. If anything, maybe this will get the ball rolling at my kids current school to get some sort of aftercare program set up if they realize people are jumping to another district due to lack of after care. Just call me Mrs. Trailblazer!

/ANOTHER EDIT - Oh, also, I signed up at and posted an advert. I got four hits from local babysitters and nanny's but when I went to try and contact them to possibly set up an interview in person, I couldn't send them a message. wanted me to sign up for their premium service which costs $40 a month in order to contact potential hires. I edited my advert to ask these ladies to include their email address in their message to me so I could contact them directly but the site reviews all postings before allowing them to go public. They not only removed my request but they edited out the word kerfuffle. Really? Kerfuffle is a no no word? That just made me laugh.

My mother is currently working to pay for her monthly health insurance that costs her $612 a month. Her part time job pretty much only pays her enough to just barely cover this with no left over. I offered to pay her $800 a month if she wanted to come be our grandma au pair for a couple of months until we could sort this all out and she's thinking about it. She lives about two and a half hours away from me so she would be able to go home on the weekends if she wanted. Dad's excited about the idea of an extended vacation from mom haha. I'm excited to have someone I trust to be here for my kid while I try and dig us out of this hole while also helping my mom take care of her bills. This is all contingent on her job letting her go on a sabbatical for a few months then come back. If the job won't be there for her when she goes home, she probably won't be able to do it. I'm crossing my fingers.

/JUST ONE MORE EDIT - I just wanted to add that some of you are running into the same problem that I did when I tried to register my kid for school. I thought I was in the Santa Rosa School District. I mean, I live in santa rosa. I have a santa rosa address. This is the way things work, right? Apparently not. Santa Rosa is pretty big. I discovered that there are a lot of school districts in my city and I am not in the santa rosa school district. To name a few:

Wright Elementary School District
Roseland Elementary School District
Santa Rosa Elementary School District
Oak Grove Union Elementary School
Rincon Valley Union Elementary School
Bennett Valley Union Elementary School District
Bellevue Union Elementary School District
Mark West Union Elementary School District
Piner-Olivet Union Elementary School District

All of these districts and more are in Santa Rosa!

I'm a few minutes away from a school that would be perfect for our needs but it is not in my district. An equidistant drive away in the other direction, is the school we currently attend which is in our district. My district has four schools in it and none of them have onsite after child care. That's why I put my name in at a close school in an adjoining district to try and transfer but it's been a huge pain. Apparently districts don't like people jumping around.

This city feels like it was put together by a satanic gerrymandering jigsaw puzzle artist. In other words, it's a big mess.

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

Just to echo some prior posts - remember that what you are looking for is "after school programs", not "daycare". "After school programs" exist all over the place, many different formats, and they accept school-age children. (They do more than just childcare - they often include homework help and stuff like that.)

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It looks like the Santa Rosa school system offers aftercare, along with the Y. I googled and it looks like there are a lot of options. It also looks like they provide transportation from the school to after care, so you would only need to get her on the bus in the morning and pick her up from after care in the afternoon.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Most schools have an after school program..
We are doing the YMCA this year.

There are places as they are not allowed to be alone until they are 12 I belive.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from New York on

Find a high school kid who wants to earn some money. I am assuming kid takes school bus home. If you do not want her taking bus, you will never find anyone to pick up daily. Having her dropped by bus, you stand a better chance.

A lot of a school districts have after school care options. Call your district before you complicate your life. That would be your best option and it is usually very affordable.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I Googled Santa Rosa CA after school programs and found tons of options... is that your location? Try that.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Do you have any high school kids that live in your subdivision? Granted my high school kids were my kids but all I did was have the kids ride the bus home and there were the kids waiting for them.

I did have a college kid come three mornings to kick the kids to the curb and that wasn't very expensive either.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Surely you aren't the only parent in this situation in your community. If you are looking at day cares, you're looking in the wrong place. You need to be looking specifically for after-school programs.

Have you called your child's school to see what they recommend? There must be some business in your area that transports kids from school to an after-care program.

When my oldest was entering K, I too was in the same predicament until I called the school secretary. She gave me the names of a local sitter within walking distance to school who routinely picked up kids there and walked them home as well as a business that bussed the kids to their location after school. Later our elementary schools started to offer an on-site after-school program run by the Y but the place where my kids went via bus is far and away more popular.

You aren't the first or last working parent in your community. Others have already figured this out and you will too. Call the school secretary - they really do know everything as they are the ones who have to keep track of everyone's dismissal assignments.

If you really are in Santa Rosa, there is a Boys and Girls club that runs and after school program that includes transportation from the schools. If you're not really in Santa Rosa, check your local B&GC and YMCA. Someone is running a program, you just have to find it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Is there a Kindercare out there? Kindercare picked up our son from school and bussed him the half mile to their center. They are national I believe. At our elementary school there are busses from numerous centers picking up kids. What about Tutor Time centers? Check with the school staff who comes to that location.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Yes, I feel your pain!!!!!!!

My daughter is now 13, but it was soooooo hard for so many years.

here are things I have done:

1. Call your school office. They may know of what other kids do after school.

2. Call the president of the PTA - they may know of parents who want to "share-care" - meaning, they can't afford a nanny for their one kid, so they may want to share a nanny for 2 and split the cost.

3. check out and - this will cost the most, but you should get some reliable college kids who will pick your kid up from school, take them to any activities scheduled, help with homework etc. I have paid upwards of $15.00 per hour for this kind of care... but it's better than having your kid in the

4. check with some of the teachers.... sometimes they are BROKE. I have used this for tutoring when my daughter had reading issues, but it would be an option for childcare, maybe.

Good luck!!!!!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Daycares tend to have an age cut off of 5-6 because then they are school aged. At least in our area, they also have before and after care for school children (and provide options for care on days there is no school).

Does your daughter's school have an after school or "latch key" program? If you can find a center that provides after care and is within your school district, your daughter could ride the bus to the daycare (and not need to be picked up). Are there any home daycares in your area? Sometimes those are more flexible especially if you or the kids are friends.

YMCA or Boys and Girls Club may be options.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Call your local YMCA and ask if they have an after school program that includes pickup. I am assuming that you have asked your school if they have an after school program - most do...

Don't give up. Keep calling!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

Have you contacted the school? Our school now has on after school program (this is the first year) staffed and run by the YMCA. They also keep a list of providers. There are two daycare centers in the area, a church that runs its own after school program and several in-home providers. Kids in any of these programs ride the school bus to their provider. My kids ride the school bus to the daycare center after school.

I would call the school and ask them for suggestions. I would be absolutely shocked if they didn't have some ideas for you. You are not the only parent in this position.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

The YMCA runs before and after school programs and is very affordable. Have you talked to the parents of any of your daughters friends? Where so they go after school? If they are in after school care, find out where they go. If there are some SAHM's ask if any would be interested in doing after school care for your daughter. I know I welcomed doing before and after care for a couple of my sons friends. My boys enjoyed the company and I made some extra cash for doing what I was doing anyway.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check with her school, most offer an after school program that is actually at the school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

What about the YMCA or your local park district. In our area both provide after school childcare, and pick the kids up from their school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I was fortunate in that three of the ten elementary schools in our district had an aftercare program so I did an intradistrict transfer when my daughter started K. I didn't need it every day because I'm in sales but it worked through sixth grade.

I hope hubby is using his entire week job hunting. In my industry a year away would make me obsolete. Can he take care of her temporarily?

Good luck, it's tough. Gotta take the job though.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

There are plenty of after school programs out there. You have to look in the right place. Right now, you're searching the daycare circuit. That obviously won't work.

We used the YMCA's after school programs for my boys until they were old enough to come home on their own.

So I Googled and found your local YMCA page. They DO offer after school care in your area. Check it out. Santa Rosa is near the bottom of the page. Click it to open the specific locations. All the info you need is right here.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Like others have said, check with the YMCA.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I worked at La Petite in OKC on SW 74th for quite a while. They are a Nationally accredited child care business, they are also a Nation wide chain. They do have a good curriculum and their school kids do character building based program.

They are going to go to certain schools for sure. You need to call the school your child goes to and find out which centers pick up there. That's the only sure way you're going to find out who goes there to pick up.

A few years ago there were a lot of vans rolling if they had a blowout. The state cautioned us to find a different alternative vehicle to pick up the kids with. Almost every center had a 15 passenger van. I had one in mind to buy at that time and I remember not being able to find a 12 passenger one.

Many centers sold their vans and stopped taking kids old enough to go to school.

The issue was eventually fixed and the vans are safe now but still many centers don't accept that age child because they just don't want the liability.

So finding a center to take your child might continue to be hard. I suggest you find out if this school has after school care for the kids, they might take them on a bus to another school and do the care there. This cuts the staff down and they can provide to more kids.

I also suggest you call the school and ask them who picks up from their school. They should know. The vans that come have to have signs on them, whether it's a magnetic one or a painted on one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Talk to the school. My DD is starting K and it's all over their website the local aftercare options - everything from a program AT the school to several centers where the children can be bussed after school. Your hours are not unusual and you should be able to find someone. I'm sure the school has some information for you.

Take a deep breath. It will be OK.

And by the way, no commute in my area is less than 20 mins and many are an hour. We have always been able to figure it out when one of the kids needed something. Schools have nurses and professional staff and your DD will safe. If there's ever anything that needs immediate care, they will call an ambulance who will get there before you possibly could anyway.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Our school has several daycares that they bus children to after school ( or from day are TO school, if needed). The school also has an extended day service very comparable in price.
My advice? Call your school and ask!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm so sorry your school has no after school care, that really sucks :-(
What about hiring a college age girl? That's a pretty popular solution here.
Ask around, what do the other working parents do? Ask your daughters' friends' parents, that's the best way to get good quality local leads. Sometimes people are looking to share a nanny to help with costs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You'll have to find a mom or college student willing to babysit after school. Go to neighborhood churches and ask if you can hang up a sign that you are interviewing. If there is a college near you, they will have an employment office to help students find part time jobs. Ask candidates for letters of recommendation from teachers, and/or moms they've babysat for.
I know in my area there are martial arts academies that pick up kids after school and have an afterschool program that includes snack, homework time, free time and martial arts.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

How about sitter city,, etc. I am sure you might be able to find someone looking for regular work for a few hours - maybe even another Mom with kids in her class would be happy to have the work and help out. If you have a college nearby, perhaps a college student would be interested in the job. Do you have any nearby neighbors (maybe an retired woman) who would be interested in providing care for a few dollars each day? Good luck - I will cross my fingers you find a solution that works for you

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Check with the local YMCA they often times have after school programs in the actual schools.

Most kindercares do after school care for older kids up to the age of 12 and they do the pick up thing.

Is this a private or public school your child is in? Call your local daycare licensing office and ask for the list of licensed caregivers in the area of the school you are looking at.

La Petite acdemy is a great school on the same lines as the goddard school. but it is expensive. my grandchildren went to goddard and there cost was close to $500 a week for 2 children. La Petite is not quiet as expensive but you will need only part time and adding in the rides to school they will need to figure it out.

I myself would call the school office and ask if they know of any daycares in the area that offer the transportation back and forth.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I have seen postings in our church's bulletin looking for similar care. Maybe you should contact your church's social service office to see if they are aware of anybody or could post a similar listing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

After school care is the HARDEST situation for working parents. I am going to encourage you to go to the Child Care Aware website. Find the resource and referral service in your area and have them do a search for you.
While child care centers are one option, there are often many home facilities that are ideal for afterschool care.
If you have tried local community centers and the school itself, give Child Care Aware a shot they are non profit and a great resource for parents.

FYI: not giving cost over the phone is pretty typical in the chain child care centers like LaPetite. They want you in the building to see why it is worth it to use them. :)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Our daycare has a before/after school and summer program for up to 12. Is that not common in California, too? I'm sorry you're having so many problems! I know if I was in a pinch, I have some close stay at home mom friends who would help for some extra cash.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I know exactly how you feel. Daycare is every working parent's worst nightmare. I have to say I was a bit offended at the poster who talked about working parents not planning well and asking her to babysit during school breaks. If you've never had to seek daycare/after school care, you really don't know how hard and stressful it is! Especially for those of us who have kids around your child's age - too old for traditional daycare, but much too young to be on their own.

It is amazing that there are no after school programs in your area. Have you considered putting her in a school close to where you work that might also have an after school program?

You could also call the school - the office usually maintains a list of the daycare providers that pick up from their particular school. Also, check the child care council - they will give you a list of daycare providers in your area.

Good luck. I know it will work out but it's going to take a LOT of phone calls.

BTW, my daughter went to La Petite Academy in Las Vegas 30 years ago. It was a great daycare and their prices were extremely reasonable. I would call them and make sure about the school pick-up - if they don't go to that school it would be a waste of everyone's time to do the tour.

ETA: I just read your SWH - darn! The only other suggestions I have is talk to your neighbors who have kids going to that school. Surely someone knows someone who does after school care.

Or if you have a local community college, call there and see if there are any students taking child development classes who might be willing to do afternoon child care.

It would really be a shame to have to pass on a job opportunity - they are so rare these days.

1 mom found this helpful
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