Where can we send him?
May 29, 2012 10:15 AM   Subscribe

What after school options for my three year old son haven't I thought of?

Kid Zizzle was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder, which is on the autism spectrum. As such, he qualifies for the full-day preschool program at our area public preschool.

The preschool will operate M-Th 8:30 - 2:30 and F 8:30 - 11.

The thing is, my husband and I both work -- my husband is a high school teacher in another school district, and I work half an hour away from where we live. As such, we will need after school care for about two hours M-Th and for most of the day on Friday.

Currently, Kid Zizzle and his little sister commute into the city with me for daycare, but I won't be able to drop my daughter off to daycare in the city and be able to be at work by any semi-reasonable time frame, so we have to move her, too.

Our challenge is that we need to find the after school care for Kid Zizzle before we can commit to any locations with available care for my daughter, and I'm not having any type of luck finding after school care for a three year old.

I have tried all of the following:

*The organization listed on the preschool's website that supplies wrap-around care hours for the preschool kids. It is full for next year. We are on the wait list, but if we don't hear anything soon, we won't be able to put him in it as we have to find a place for my daughter, and we can't do that last minute.

*Traditional after school programs sponsored by organizations like the Y and the Boys and Girls Club --- they only take children the age of 5 and enrolled in kindergarten. My son will only be four in December.

*Private preschools --- they want kids to attend for 2 or more full-days. They will not do part-time days.

*Head Start, which has an extended day. We make too much to qualify.

*Looked into a nanny full-time. At the low end of the pay scale for a nanny in our area, this would cost us $75-$100 more per week than what we currently pay. We absolutely cannot afford this. Our pockets are just not that deep.

*Paying for a babysitter to watch my son for the hours we need while still sending my daughter to a full-day daycare would cost more than hiring a full-time nanny. We cannot afford this.

*We do not live near family, so having family watch him is not an option.

*I called the Parent Liaison at the school my son will be attending, and she could not direct me to any organizations I haven't tried. She did direct me to someone who does grant work related to child care, and that person told me this appears to be a huge gap in services across the state and she couldn't think of anything else, either.

*The in-home daycares I have contacted will not take him for the hours we have. (I did hear from one that said the hours would work great for her, but she has been incredibly elusive in getting back to me, and I can't count on this working out at this point.)

*We do not know of any stay at home moms in a position to look after our son.

*For that matter, all the other families we DO know commute with their kids, too. I know only one family in our area who uses daycare in the town we live in.

*I wrote a letter to both my state representative and the superintendent of my town's school. The chief of staff to my rep has an e-mail out to her her Early Education liaison, but I haven't heard back. The superintendent asked if I had tried an organization called Child Care Circuit, which is basically a place to look up daycare. This website contains no information that isn't on the Massachusetts Early Ed website, so I responded telling him this and asking once again that he seriously look into the lack of after school care for 3 and 4 year olds in my town.

*My husband and I both need to work in order to pay rent and carry health insurance.

My son needs these services. We need him to attend the preschool to get the services he needs, but neither my husband nor I can pick him up by 2:30. While I can drop him off at 8:30 for the start of school, I can only do so if my daughter has a place to go to in our town, and doing so means I won't get to work until 10 as after 8:30 there is no train until 9:30. I can't then take the 1:20 train home in order to pick him up by 2:30. While I can do some of my job remotely, I can't do it remotely that much.

As I said above, my husband is a high school teacher half an hour north of our town. We cannot stagger our hours to pick our son up by 2:30 as my husband can't really be late or leave early.

I am really at a loss about what else to do. I don't know where else to go, what else to consider, what else to try. We are looking into private services, but the preschool really would be best for him to improve his social skills.

I've been working on this since March, and I am so stuck.

I can't believe we are the only parents in this situation, and yet, no one can point me to what other parents are doing. So, what are other parents doing? Where else can I look? What else can I try?

The services my son is entitled are proving more and more unattainable as there just isn't any after school care. We are located in Salem, Mass.
posted by zizzle to Education (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you share a nanny with another family? Can you drive instead of taking the train? Can you cut your hours or work remotely on Friday?
I think you might start expanding your network of parents/families both at the pre-school and in general. When my kids were small, I really had to rely on a very extended social circle to help me out, etc.. Are there any support groups for parents with kids on the spectrum in your area?
posted by Ideefixe at 10:28 AM on May 29, 2012

Response by poster: When I was on maternity leave this past Fall, I could locate know Moms groups or any connections to any other families. It seems you have to know a super secret handshake to locate anything of that sort.

I cannot cut my hours and maintain my benefits.

All the families we know are happy with their childcare situation.

I cannot drive because I work in downtown Boston --- try parking there sometime. It's crazy expensive, and that's assuming you can find it.

I know no other families who will be using the public preschool and the preschool does not seem interested in connecting me with any. I have asked.
posted by zizzle at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2012

Response by poster: *couldn't locate
posted by zizzle at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2012

Head Start is supposed to (or, at least, used to) take a certain percentage of kids whose families make too much. They're also supposed to provide care for any child with a disability, regardless of parental income. Check into this further. Good luck!
posted by mareli at 10:41 AM on May 29, 2012

And here is a link to Head Start rules.
posted by mareli at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2012

Elementary Ed majors at a local college. Call the department, they will usually put up ads or send you a student's info. Let the student do laundry at your house ... Excellent perq for a college student.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:43 AM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Au pair?
posted by k8t at 10:46 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Mareli, we would need a voucher to qualify for the extended day program.

He can attend on his IEP for a four hour day if we are only 10% above income eligibility (and we are more than that), but not a full day as the full extended days are reserved for children with vouchers.
posted by zizzle at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2012

In my town private and church daycares pick students up after school. My suggestion would be to enroll your daughter in a private or church daycare near the public school that does after-school pickup. They can pick up your son. Have you checked all church daycares? It seems odd to me that no area daycare does after school pickup.
posted by Fairchild at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2012

What about family medical leave? I think that this would qualify and could buy you some time as you try to figure out your next steps.
posted by k8t at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know you said that private daycares will do not do part-time. Perhaps if your daughter is enrolled, you can work out a deal or pay the price, I suppose.
posted by Fairchild at 10:52 AM on May 29, 2012

Ugh. I can't imagine how frustrated you must feel. Since becoming a parent, I have developed a theory that childcare in big cities is basically based on the needs of stay at home moms who travel through time from the 50s and just need a couple of hours to get the grocery shopping done. Nothing else makes sense!

Are there any colleges near the public preschool? If so, maybe a call to the child development program there would be worthwhile: perhaps there's a student who'd be up for taking care of the kid a few hours every afternoon?

Do you have, or could you create, an extra sleeping room in your house? Maybe a student or person with an unusual schedule would be willing to take free rent (+allowance) in exchange for picking up and watching the kid?

Otherwise, my only idea is to be bitchier more aggressive with the people you've already tried. Will the public preschool let you hang up a flier asking if any of the current parents who are returning next year would be willing to take your kid home for a few hours? I have sometimes found that the people who staff the front-office line at public institutions are so unhelpful that you have to escalate to their boss immediately and be SUPER aggressive. If you're already considering not attending the otherwise-good public preschool because of scheduling, you may have nothing to lose in terms of ruffling feathers.

I'm really sorry. This situation sounds terrible. :(
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:52 AM on May 29, 2012

Some more ideas:

Start with finding a potential daycare for your daughter, possibly church-based, near the school and see if that place (those places, if you are contacting more than one) will take your son for the hours specified; you may have to find someone like a student to walk him from a to b.

If you would be okay with an in-home daycare for your daughter, that person might be willing to do the afterschool bit in order to keep all the income together, plus siblings mean only one set of parents to deal with. It's also one pick-up for you.

Try the support group/list for local parents dealing with the same disorder? There might be a parent there who is willing to take your child after school, or who has solved this problem in some other way.

Would he qualify for a similar/same programme near your work? And then could you see about the daycare he's at now taking him for the additional hours?

What I don't quite understand is how full-time daycare for two kids is not working out, budget-wise, against full-time for one, part-time for one. I am not saying that's wrong; I just don't quite get it. Can you help me understand that? Is it a subsidy thing? Can he still get that where his preschool is, just not attend there full-time?
posted by Zen_warrior at 10:54 AM on May 29, 2012

Have you been in touch with Salem's Sepac?

They're a network of parents who are great at helping other parents with kids on IEPs.

Give them a try.

Barring that, is it possible to convene his team (I'm assuming he's on an IEP) and ask for extended day services?
posted by kinetic at 10:59 AM on May 29, 2012

Can your kids attend school in your husband's district? I know in some areas (specifically parts of NY state) teachers can have their children attend that district even if they don't live in the district.

Depending on the schedule in that district's preschool intervention program, dad could drive son multiple days per week, possibly all five. Also find daycare in that area and dad can drive both kids - and since he's a teacher he is free to pick them up when school gets out, no special after-school part-time care needed!

Separately, can you negotiate to change your hours (rather than reduce and lose benefits) to work longer days M-Th and "work from home" on Fridays?
posted by trivia genius at 11:01 AM on May 29, 2012

Response by poster: We live in a four room apartment -- not bedroom, rooms.

There's no space for another person to live with us.

I used up my FMLA for the calendar year when my daughter was born, and it'd be completely unpaid as this would not qualify as a serious medical event for short term disability. We can't afford for one of us to be off for three months. Time it would buy us, but it'd be terrible financially.

I called the college near us. People pay $15/hour for sitters, according to the person who runs that office and puts up those ads. That's why it'd be more expensive to pay for daycare for my daughter at $320/week plus that for my son for 20 - 25 hours/week. May as well as just hire a nanny full-time, but that's too expensive.

Sorry, I keep moderating my own thread. I just want to address what everyone says because, really, we've looked at all the so-far suggested options.

Zen --- it's because my daughter's care in Salem will go up by $100-$150/week from what we are paying now, and babysitters and nannies charge $15/hour on the low end. Realistically, we're talking $20/hour, which would be about $400 for my son weekly plus $320 - $350 for my daughter weekly, that's nearly $200 more than we're paying now weekly. We pay about $100 day for the both of them now. We'll be paying about $200 more a week if we do that, but only $100 more if we hire a nanny full-time at $15/hour. And that's if we hire a nanny full time at $15/hour. Most want $18 - $25.

We also get a sibling discount where we are for full-time care. It's basically that the hourly pay will go up for my son and the daily rate will go up for my daughter. We did the math on this like a gazillion times.

We are looking into my husband's district, too. He hasn't heard back yet.
posted by zizzle at 11:04 AM on May 29, 2012

Response by poster: The SEPAC website appears to be mostly defunct.
posted by zizzle at 11:08 AM on May 29, 2012

I feel you for zizzle. I am sitting at work reading on a break and every single week I am working right now I lose about $40 after driving costs, because I am paying a nanny to watch my youngest and pick my first grader up afterschool. It works because we knew this period (12 months - 18 months) was coming, we have savings, and as we keep eating into them I remind myself: This is temporary; in September my youngest goes to Montessori and my oldest goes there after school and we can rebuild our account, and I stay on the grid etc.

It's hard, and you didn't get to see this one coming. I'd just remind you that if you can swing a negative balance with a nanny, or find additional income or sell something, it gets easier as soon as he comes off the waitlist, or something else opens up. Also ask _everybody_; you never know who will have the answer. Churches are a good place to start, or church-going friends. And hound the wraparound care.
posted by Zen_warrior at 11:10 AM on May 29, 2012

Have you scoured/continue to scour craigslist?
posted by Sassyfras at 11:10 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

and not only scoured craigslist put have have you put up an add with your needs and how much you can pay? Even if you can only offer much below the the going rate, you might find someone very willing and happy to work for that amount.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:13 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you received a class list for your son? It seems like all of the other families at his school are in the same situation and might have some insight.
posted by Flamingo at 11:17 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

*Traditional after school programs sponsored by organizations like the Y and the Boys and Girls Club --- they only take children the age of 5 and enrolled in kindergarten. My son will only be four in December.

Have you actually contacted the after school programs to see if they will make an exception for your son? I have heard of daycares occasionally making exceptions to age ranges if they have the space.
posted by barnoley at 11:24 AM on May 29, 2012

Oh man...I went through the EXACT thing about 4 years ago when my son (also PDD-NOS) was accepted into the early intervention preschool. Traditional "after-school" programs won't take someone that young and the hours you need are outside the traditional "pre-school/pre-k" hours. Here is the solution we found:

1. Does your pre-school offer a bus to your afterschool program. Ours did. The only requirement was that the drop-off had to be the same place every day. This will take care of getting your son from the preschool program to his aftercare.

2. Find a local daycare that has a very flexible schedule..I mean one that offers a morning only program, a lunch-bunch program and a full-day program. Even better if they offer a pre-k. This means that they are used to staffing around a flexible number of students. Often these kinds of programs seem to be church-based but this might be a regional thing.

3. Go and talk in-person to the directors of these programs. Explain your situation and what you need. You're just asking for your son to utilize their services outside of the standard set hours. It's true that you're asking for something slightly outside of the norm but it's well within their power to provide it.

We got our son into this kind of program for the price of their morning-only program since the hours were about equal. The afternoon is typically when they have the fewest kids so they definitely had the room...they just have to be willing to allow one kid to come at a slightly odd time...I think my son always arrived right after nap and right before snack.

Good luck and feel free to memail me if you have any other questions. I know how frustrating this is but you will find a solution.
posted by victoriab at 11:26 AM on May 29, 2012

Response by poster: Barnoley, it's a State of MA licensing issue.

They are only LICENSED to take kids of the age of five in older. They would be in violations of their license to make an exception.

No class list. I haven't even gotten his actual IEP to sign off on yet, either, and it's been two weeks since the meeting.
posted by zizzle at 11:26 AM on May 29, 2012

Response by poster: I don't think churches in New England offer daycares --- I haven't found a single based church care program through the Mass EEC website (and I will not consider unlicensed providers).
posted by zizzle at 11:27 AM on May 29, 2012

I'm in Hartford, CT so I know they do here...can you memail your location and I can help you look?
posted by victoriab at 11:29 AM on May 29, 2012

Oops, just saw you are in Salem...I'll see if I can find anything.
posted by victoriab at 11:30 AM on May 29, 2012

This is probably a long shot to end all long shots, but could you see if he could go to school in the city or in your husband's district? You typically have to pay some penalty for sending a kid to school in the wrong district, but it could be worth it.
posted by hoyland at 11:34 AM on May 29, 2012

Definitely look into permitting into the school district where your husband works, or where you work. I know you don't say that you work for a school, but even employment within the bounds of a school district can get you a permit in. I just did this with my eldest son, but obviously rules are different everywhere. This could expand the pool of daycare options for you.
posted by Joh at 12:07 PM on May 29, 2012

Ahh, I see. Sorry.
posted by barnoley at 12:11 PM on May 29, 2012

Is there a local parenting listserv in Salem? My neighborhood has a parenting Yahoo Group and there are frequently people looking to organize shared childcare.

This is clearly not an optimal solution but could you flex your time at work so that you are at home with your daughter in the morning and then work late? Then your kids would only need a few hours of afternoon/after-school care until your husband picked them up.

Failing that, I think your only option is to really start beating the bushes--mention the issue to everyone you know, keep asking at the preschool, etc.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 1:17 PM on May 29, 2012

A possible argument for why your son needs an out-of-district placement in the town where your husband works (if that would help) is that your local school is unable to provide the services he needs, since he needs wrap-around care in order to attend preschool and they don't have it.

Here's more on out-of-district placements in Massachusetts and what the requirements are.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:59 PM on May 29, 2012

Did you call Child Care Circuit or just look at the website? They are paid by the state to help match up parents with child care providers, and may have more information about providers' hours/willingness to provide PT care/etc than the EEC website. (Or also try 211, there have been some changes lately in who does what parts of this role.)

Either through Child Care Circuit or separately, you may be able to find family child care systems-- networks of in-home child care providers with a central office, which sometimes also provide transportation-- could be a good intermediary to help you locate a provider that fits your needs.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 4:14 PM on May 29, 2012

Apologies if this is redundant, but have you spoken to Kids Only Afterschool? They have a dedicated specialist for kids with special needs. She might be able to offer other suggestions too.
posted by barnone at 4:40 PM on May 29, 2012

Not advocating for religious institutions at all, but Catholic Charities of Boston seems to have a hookup for licensed family daycares on the North Shore: link.

Have you tried posting a job to Sittercity and Care.com? I wonder if you could even split the job up between two people, and maybe not say that you're looking for a "nanny" but maybe a babysitter or a stay at home mom in the area who could pick up your son and watch him for a couple of hours. You might get more interest if you aren't looking for a five day a week commitment from one person, maybe? And you might find some people that way who aren't looking for high hourly wages because it's more like a supplement to their income rather than money they're depending on.

There is a local parent group called Parents United of Salem, they have an active facebook page, though it seems to be mostly event announcements and also seems to be more geared to stay at home moms. Still, desperate times... here's their website.

So sorry you're going through all this!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:51 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there an amount of time (a few weeks/a month/whatever) where an after-school babysitter WOULD be possible? What I'm thinking is that maybe you could do that while he gets started with his preschool, and as soon as his preschool starts, put the word out among the other parents that you need a new childcare situation. Or if there's some way you could contact those parents soon, that could help.

This completely sucks. I am so sorry you're going through this.
posted by linettasky at 7:11 PM on May 29, 2012

*We do not know of any stay at home moms in a position to look after our son.

You might try a group for at-home mothers. There is a group called "MOMS Club" that has chapters in different cities/towns. Here are the links to Massachusetts chapters. (I don't know which are nearest you.) In my experience, people are always sending emails to the whole membership about babysitters, etc., so I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be a problem to send an email about your situation.
posted by palliser at 8:13 AM on May 30, 2012

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