Child care is a basic need for working parents. Some are fortunate to have family or friends to take care of their brood for a reasonable cost, or in some cases, for free but many are not so lucky. The Child care rate table, published by the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services in 2010 estimates that the price of center-based, full-time child care runs between $710 and $1,395 a month per child not including before and after school care. Add this to the ever-increasing price of gas, groceries, and utilities, plus the house/car/other necessary payments and the results are really disgusting.
Here are five alternatives to help combat the waiting lists and avoid the high fees that many child care centers charge:
- Seek out licensed family child care homes; these cost about $600 a month per child. PATCH offers an enhanced referral service available for a low fee. They assist parents with lists of state licensed providers that have space available. The term licensed provider means that the responsible person underwent health, safety and background checks before being approved by the state. Their website also offers helpful information on what to look for in a child care provider.
- Find a license-exempt person. These can be relatives, but are typically non-relatives who will watch your child for $350-$400 a month per child. There are websites that provide babysitting assistance, or allow either party to solicit services.
- If the children are school-aged, let your teenager babysit their siblings. Operation Military Kids, run by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai’i Manoa campus offers free babysitting workshops for both military and civilian teens. These classes offer Army/4-H developed babysitting curriculum as well as basic first aid training. Another option for youth 11 and older is the Hawaii Red Cross. For a fee, instructors teach babysitting ready children how to prevent accidents, and how to feed, diaper and choose age-appropriate toys and activities for youngsters. Emergency first aid is also taught during this course.
- Also for school-aged children: free to low-cost after school activities are offered seasonally by the City and County of Honolulu’s Parks and Recreation division. These classes fill up quickly, so be sure to sign up once registration begins.
- Become a licensed caregiver. While this is not a possible option for everyone, it does seem the most logical one for parents who are looking for an income and are tired of working to pay for someone else to watch their keiki.
With a little bit of searching, and a little creativity, it is possible to eliminate a bulk of that monthly child care bill.