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Money-saving childcare tips for frugal families

Childcare is one of the highest expenses for Healdsburg families. Find out how you can save money and still take care of your children.

One of the most major expenses in a family with young children is childcare.  Last year alone, Californians spent an average of $11,000 on childcare per child.  As parents are tightening up their budgets, they are looking for less expensive ways to take care of their children during the day.  In this week’s edition of Frugal Families, we will look at different options for affordable childcare in Healdsburg. 

The first category of childcare is babysitting.  Every family needs a break from each other and babysitters can provide everything from a date night out, to just some time off from the kids.  Babysitters can also be an affordable option for those who only need occasional childcare.  Julie Anderson, a local babysitter who is also trained in early childhood education, gives these tips for finding and keeping a fantastic babysitter:

  • Ask friends or people in town for a reference to a great babysitter.  This is where the Internet hasn’t caught up.  The Healdsburg community is a small but great place to network and meet people to get recommendations for babysitters.
  • Check local churches for babysitters on the bulletin board in the lobby.  Churches usually attract families with young children and can be great resources not just for finding a babysitter, but for finding mother’s groups and babysitting co-ops.
  • Be great to your babysitter and he or she will be great back to you.  Pay your babysitter fairly.  Depending on age, experience, number of children and education the going rate is between $8 and $15.  Find a rate that works for both of you.  By keeping the same babysitter, your children will be able to bond and will have a better time enabling you to have peace of mind while you’re taking a break.
  • Make sure your babysitter is CPR/First Aid certified.  The American Red Cross in Santa Rosa offers a class specifically for babysitters to teach them safety with children.  The also offers a free CPR class the first Saturday of every month.

Full-Time Childcare

Healdsburg has several nursery schools and daycares for parents who work.   The prices range from around $300 for part time to $600 full time per month.  Some daycares, such as Healdsburg Community Nursery School, allow parents to come and help occasionally to receive discounts on tuition, which can save hundreds per month.  

Another option for parents who want their children at home is to hire a nanny.  One nanny in Sonoma Valley that I spoke with works with a placement agency that hires and places nannies in a prospective family.  There is a lump sum that must be paid by the family up front before placement, and the agency is involved with the hiring and firing.  After the initial payment, nannies can range in prices from $12-28 per hour, depending on experience and education.  Some placement agencies are  All About Kids

If a family is interested in hiring a foreign nanny for a cultural experience, there are many options that are more affordable with local nannies.  However, the family must also put up a lump sum up front as well as house the nanny in some cases.  The advantage is that the nanny lives in home and is usually ready and available at any time.  One company, Cultural Care Au Pair, charges families a total $7,580 per family for up to 45 hours per week of live-in childcare per year.

Find out if you could afford to stay at home.  With the high cost of childcare, you might just benefit from staying home with your kids.  This is a personal choice that every parent will have to struggle with.  One place to start is with this calculator to see if you can afford to stay at home.  

Afterschool Care

Healdsburg has an abundance of afterschool programs ranging from educational, to athletic programs, or just a time for kids to relax and do homework.  Most schools provide an afterschool program for families at a flat fee per hour per child.  The Boys & Girls Club of Healdsburg ($10-12 per day) is also a great program that teaches character and life skills and is right next to Healdsburg Elementary School.  The City of Healdsburg along with Healdsburg Unified School District offers before and after school care for families who need it.  Call for more information or for pricing for your family.  Multiple children may receive a discount.

Mom Time for Free-Because you need a break

  • Join or create a babysitting co-op.  Get a group of friends with kids and rotate one time each week when one parent watches all the children while the other parents get a break. Find out how to in this article.
  • Go to McDonalds.  Really.  Your kids will love the Play Place and you can sip your coffee in peace.  Everybody wins!
  • Go to the library.  You can escape and get your kids reading all in one shot.  See last week’s for times and dates of free reading sessions.
  • Adopt a grandparent.  If you’re like me and have no family in town, you’re going to need a substitute grandparent for your kids.  Some older people love children and miss their own that don’t live nearby.  

These are just a few suggestions on ways to find childcare.  Join us next Wednesday for more Frugal Family ideas on how to save.  I would love to hear some of your thrifty childcare ideas so make sure to add them to the comments below!

Susan Superfine Huffman March 02, 2011 at 06:12 AM
AND another wonderful childcare facility in Healdsburg is the Fitch Mountain Day Camp Program which offers after school and summer childcare for children ages kindergarten through seventh grades. Now in our 26th year....well over 2,000 children have experienced life at Day Camp! Our motto is..."Day Camp...not just a place for children to go, but a place for children to grow". Please come and visit us on the Fitch Mountain Campus, Monday - Friday, 2 - 6:30 pm during the school year and 7:30am - 6:30pm during the summer. Also, check out the Patch.com article on Fitch Mountain Day Camp that was posted in January. The "comments" truly tell the story of how Day Camp has had positive affects for the children and their families who have been in our care. For more information, please phone: 431-1412
Rika Meyer March 02, 2011 at 06:56 AM
Thanks Susan, for that comment! We hope to do a segment soon on options for summer camps in the area, so we'll for sure keep Fitch Mountain Day Camp in mind. It sounds great!
Catherine kohmann March 19, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Pine Tree Preschool also offers a discount for parents who want to volunteer to do various things for the school. We also allow drop off care for temporary childcare from a few hours to a few months. We also have a private nanny service to serve visitors to Sonoma County. One of our staff goes to the persons home or vacation rental
Jayden Eden March 17, 2014 at 08:17 PM
I would definitely make sure that you know your babysitter before you hire them. I wouldn't trust my kid in the hands of a stranger. I liked how you pointed out that they should be CPR certified as well. That is one thing that you would never really think about, but it could be very vital if something happened. Jayden Eden | http://www.triplerchild.com/

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