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Plan Ahead, Prepare to Spend, and Promote Great Programs

We have learned through experiences of other parents that planning ahead is essential when finding childcare. And thank goodness we asked ahead - when pregnant with our first child, we had to put him on a waiting list for childcare... one year in advance! Childcare centers require 9mo-1yr advance registration, and then inform you that you will find out if you receive a spot in their program only a few weeks before they go in. Try telling your employer that you may or may not be able to come back to work in 2 weeks due to childcare - I had to, and thank goodness they were flexible!

So why not sign up for multiple centers to ensure you have a placement? Childcare centers on the Eastside require deposits of $100-200 just to hold a spot on a waitlist - a costly pursuit if you sign up for more than one. The cost of childcare for my two children is as much as my mortgage, and I have them in child care on a part time basis (3x/wk). It is an expensive, but absolutely critical expense.

While we've had issues in searching for childcare, we also have to commend my employer, who sponsors a back up care program for when I have to work and childcare is closed or my children are mildly ill. With only a few hours notice, my employer will send a licensed nanny to my home or find me care at the phenomenal rate of $4/hr so I can return to work. The more we can promote and expand this type of benefit, the more we will be able to retain a critical workforce - the working mother.

—AmyWashington
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