Dear PoP – What do people in DC do about childcare?!

Photo by PoPville flickr user Blinkofanaye

“Dear PoP,

Ok, so I’m unexpectedly going back to work half-time in September. I love my job and really want to be able to go back to work, but apparently I have almost a zero chance of getting my kid in daycare in DC this late in the game.

I’ve called every in-home daycare center in NW on the DC licensed list, and the numbers that weren’t disconnected had waiting lists, don’t take infants, could barely speak English (not that that would bother me if they were amazing with my son) or were closed. I managed to get on 5 waiting lists – most of which don’t anticipate openings until January, and scheduled to see 2 places. I live in Bloomingdale and work in Georgetown. A nanny is way too expensive for us, and the nanny share that I found wants $400 a week for part time! And most daycare centers don’t want part time kids. I am pulling my hair out. What do people in this area do for childcare?!”

60 Comment

  • Check out the AU Job Corps website – when I was in college it was how all my friends found their babysitting jobs

  • I tie mine up in the basement and place a bowl of water next to them. That usually frees my whole day up.

  • Most people in DC just leave their kids on the metro for the day. Unfortunately the Union Station movie theatre is no more. They always had plenty of space, apparently.

    Ok, now seriously. One of the best places to find part time childcare is through a church. Now, that’s going to start a lot of anti-religion fervor on here, but it’s true.

    Daycare places are simply not going to want to fill up a full time spot with a part time payor.

    Keep looking. There are plenty of mothers out there that are interested in taking on one child because it helps them out financially and they can continue doing what they want to (take care of their own child).

    As with all things, it’s mostly a matter of networking. Ask everybody you know. And then ask the ones you don’t.

    • My aunt, a single mother, got childcare help with the Mormons in California. My cousin is now a freshman at Brigham Young University and she just got married at 19 years old, and none us could even attend the temple ceremony.

      • And your point is? I’m mormon and didn’t get married until 29. Maybe your cousin is the one with the issue and not the church.

        • saf

          I’m guessing the point is that if you go with church based day care, make sure it’s one you are comfortable with, as it is possible that if will influence your child.

          (Not always, but possible)

      • what a weird segue. I’d say it’s totally off topic, but I committed that fault big time yesterday, as you all may know, with cantankerous results! 🙂

  • Join the Petworthparents listserve, that might help. There’s a new home daycare opening on the 700 block of Kenyon (I am in no way affiliated with this person or daycare I found it when I was looking for my own purposes):

    • Joined…I also talked to Little Lotus and she seemed great. They don’t know when they’re opening though.

  • you might want to post something over at dcurbanmoms:

    or find out if your neighborhood has a listserve such as:

    for g-town

  • Is it possible that this is just what childcare costs in DC? We are like #1 in daycare costs in the country.

    This brings up the constant debate I have with myself regarding pets vs. kids. You can leave the dog and the cat at home at an earlier age (6 mos) than a kid (8-9 yrs?!). However, given enough time a kid can get his own kibble and help with chores –at 2 yrs, both the dog and the cat suck at folding laundry and don’t get me started on the vacuum.

    Trade offs.

  • How old is your child? That might be the most important factor.

    Do you have an up-to-date list from DC? The one on their website is several years old, but if you go down to the N. Capitol St address you can get a new one.

    Look at the daycare and nannyshare forums, if you haven’t already. Here’s one post to start: I also recently saw mention on there of a new home daycare starting up late this summer in the 500 block of Kenyon called Little Lotus – you should be able to find that via google or the DCUM forum.

    Join any neighborhood listserve/Yahoo group you can find for Bloomingdale and other convenient neighborhoods and ask if anyone wants to start a nannyshare or has an opening. I’ve seen several posts like that in the past to the Petworth Parents group.

    As Badger said, tell everyone you know that you’re looking. And ask them to send anyone they might know who’s interested in a share of some sort your way.

    Finding daycare was one of the more traumatic things about new parenthood for me – I know exactly what you’re going through and we were on daycare waiting lists when I was 9 weeks pregnant! But you will find something. Best of luck.

    • Hi, I’ve called that provider and although she does have a spot I would have to pay for fulltime even though I’d only be using it from 8-2. Also she’s located pretty far north near Arkansas Ave. Although her rates are cheaper than the part time nanny share for fulltime hours.

      • Yes, you will have to pay for full time, get over that now because you’re starting to whine.

      • 8am-2pm is not part time, I just did the math, that’s 6 hours a day. Part time might be 4, maybe 5 hours a day. You may only be working part time but 6 hours is full time.

  • DC Urban Moms (and, as an afterthought: Dads)
    Dad just can’t get no respect!

  • We found our part-time nanny thru the Kalorama
    list-serve. We also interviewed several great candidates after we posted our child care needs on the AU job corp board.

  • No grandparents?

    • Grandparents on my side are still working fulltime. My mom works at Howard as a professor and can watch him on Friday’s which she has off but she has morning classes other days. Grandparents on dad’s side live in Southern VA.

  • As you’re now discovering, it takes serious advanced planning to arrange for infant care in DC. I sympathize, as demand for centers far exceeds space.

    One avenue I would recommend is looking at nanny shares again. It’s a somewhat fluid market and you may be able to jump into an existing share as families’ needs change. Infant care in a center is no better price than what you quoted. You may also find smaller ‘co op’ arrangements which provide greater coverage and sometime involve pooling parent and care provider time.

    The market is definitely a beast. There are more home care providers in the burbs, but even there spaces can be tight.

    Good luck

  • We just went through this same thing. The Petworth Parents listserv regularly has families looking for a nanny share – but I don’t remember any needing only part-time.

    Bright Start in Petworth had a couple of openings, but they are not accredited (if that matters to you). The Dept. of Labor may have openings soon, as may the Dept. of Transportation. But again, these don’t offer part-time options.

    BTW, I wasn’t able to find a place for my daughter until 2 weeks before the end of my maternity leave (and I put her on the lists when I was 6 weeks pregnant). I started calling EVERY DAY and always mentioned how desperate/panicked I was (and I’m sure it came through in my voice). And sure enough, a space magically opened up!

  • Just because you don’t work for the federal government, do not rule out the federal GSA daycares. If your child is 3 or over, a lot of them have spaces (I gather the original poster has an infant, but perhaps that info can be useful to someone else).

    Hold your nose and check DC urban moms for nanny shares. I’m pretty sure $400 a week is the going rate for a full time share (i.e. your kid goes full time), but there might be part time shares out there other options. Just try to ignore the crazy while you are there.

    And, tell your city council that you want more child care options. Right now they focus on providing daycare centers for “low income” but often there is no way to get a spot if you are not low income — i.e the places literally don’t accept money, so only low income kids can attend. This does nothing for the middle class parents, who are willing to pay for day care, but can’t find any daycare center that is willing to take their money.

    Maybe the next time a condo building in Columbia Heights/Petworth is looking for approval, the requirement should be that they provide ground floor daycare space to a daycare provider at below market rents — that is the only way the Fed’s daycares are remotely affordable (and I recognize that they are still expensive). There could be a requirement that the daycare be a non-profit with X number of parents and X number of neighborhood residents on the board to ensure that Bright Horizons or some other corporation did not just keep the below market rent as profit. If you could convince the DC government to do this AND convince them that they did not need to set an income requirement, there might actually be an affordable childcare option for middle class families in Petworth/Columbia Heights.

    • that’s a fantastic idea – I wonder if someone could get one of the mayoral candidates to introduce these kind of requirements into the approval process for new buildings? I suspect there’s a large frustrated female population in the city’s electorate that would be interested in voting for such a family-friendly initiative…

  • A colleague at work fixed up her basement so she could provide housing free in exchange for nanny services…no way they could afford to hire a nanny the regular way as only one of the parents is working (the other is in grad school).

  • $400 was the rate we paid for a full time M-F 8-5:30 nanny share with one other baby, in Adams Morgan, with an experienced nanny with good references. Start with the DC Urban Moms website and start lots of interviewing. Lots of families post their soon-to-be-unemployed nanny when they get into daycare or a parent decides to stay home. We paid $575 per week for continuity to keep our nanny when our share collapsed (the other family moved.) White House Nannies charges a heavy fee but once you are in their nannies are vetted and you could probably find one to fit your needs. Also there is the coop idea – parents go in, share childcare duties several days a week…
    Our daycare is looking for 3-4 year olds – a lot of kids leave for DC public or nursery school, move away etc. and the older classes thin out. But they did not call us until our kid was 18 months old (about a year after I got on the wiaiting list) and they don’t do part time. It’s $1275 per month. Bright Horizons is a lot more.

    • I was quoted $400 for a part time nanny share in Georgetown. $500 for fulltime. Seemed a bit steep to me for part time.

      • It’s about 20K a year – roughly the same as some other part time jobs.

      • Keep looking. The economy is not great and there are more unemployed nannies now than there were just 2 or 3 years ago. That said you want to be sure your nanny is happy.

  • I think it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find a center that would allow you to have a part-time slot. Most of the moms I know who work part-time end up paying for full-time child care. Since there is so much demand for full-time spots in the city the centers don’t need to be very flexible. I agree that trying to figure out some type of nanny sharing situation is probably your best bet, especially given your relatively short time frame. But it’s probably worth getting on some center waitlists to give yourself options in the future. The advantage of center care is that preschool is built in, so you don’t have to pay separately for preschool. Plus the cost of center care goes down as the kids get older, so $350/week for infants becomes $300/week for toddlers. Good luck!

  • There’s one in a house at the corner of 4th & Varnum (the house with the fantastic garden). They’re really nice folks.

  • Are you only looking at nanny, nanny shares and in-home nanny’s and nanny shares?

    i had no difficulty finding spots for infants at day care centers–and for far less money. Finding one that is more than baby jail is another story.

    • I’m looking for small in home daycares, and nanny shares mostly. I’m kind of turned off by large daycare centers.

      • why? does your in-home care have a trained nurse?

      • FM, I have my kids in a “large” daycare (a Fed’s GSA center) and it is fantastic. I did not look at small in-home centers, but I cannot imagine that they are better.

        I really hope you can find a part time option. There are “babysitters” who do multiple part time jobs around town. These are experienced nanny types who prefer a little more flexibility. If you are lucky, maybe you could find someone to do 8 – 2 4 days a week and your mom could take DD on Friday.

        Can your DH take FMLA leave for a few weeks to take care of the baby while you start work. Daddy staying home for a while is great for daddy and baby.

  • You might have to place in a large daycare while you continue looking for the smaller one/better situation. Just a thought.

    The other moms I know were frantic about it up until the last minute so I started looking for daycare solutions before we even saw a pink line because I knew I wanted to get on lists as early as possible once I knew I was knocked up.

  • Have you joined the Bloomingdale Kids listserv? ( I would start there looking for a nannyshare or in home care close to home. Most in home solutions are found by word of mouth, so it would be a good starting point. Also, um, yep, finding daycare sucks. From your note, sounds like your little one is under 1yo, which is the hardest time. Just fyi – the options get much better at 2yo. The mandated child/provider ratio becomes a little more tenable for providers.
    Sorry I don’t have better advice. Just know that, somehow, it seems to work out in the end.

    – Eckington resident, mama to a 6yo and a 3yo

    • In addition to the Bloomingdale Kids listserv, it might be worth e-mailing Scott Roberts to include a note in the Bloomingdale e-mail list asking about local solutions. On that e-mail list there was also a recommendation in April for a nanny for NannyShare that I’ve copied below:

      We recently have transitioned from working with a wonderful nanny to enrolling our son in daycare. As such, our nanny is interested in finding another family to work with. She worked with us and, previously, worked another family in the area. She would ideally like to find another opportunity in the Bloomingdale/LeDroit Park/Truxton Circle area. She previously worked with two children who are around 8 yrs old now. She worked with us to care for our newborn up until he was ready for daycare. She comes with great references and I can`t say enough about what a great find she is for anyone seeking a nanny. If anyone would like to learn more, they may contact me at johngrumbine @ and I can answer any questions and put you in contact with her. She`d like to stay in the area but is also amenable to working outside the neighborhood if you or someone you know is seeking a great nanny elsewhere in DC.

      Good luck!

  • Just curious – how much do you all think someone should earn for caring for your child? Especially if they also live in reasonable circumstances in this expensive city.

  • Both of my kids (3.5 years and 11 months) have spent time at Tiny Tots, right by the Ga. Ave/Petworth metro station on Rock Creek Church Rd. It’s normally $400/biweekly, but they let my older son go half days for $250/biweekly. This place is nothing fancy, mind you: no wait lists, no Montessori, no particular pedagogical method. It’s just a bunch of middle aged African-American ladies who have been care of kids forever. My sons are not the only white kids there, but they are definitely in the minority. But both of them have been happy there and have been well cared for. I recommend it without reservation.

  • Just move to the burbs or exurbs where it’s cheaper. It’s crazy trying to raise well adjusted children (or chil’ren according to the local dialect) in this city unless you are rich. That’s what I plan on doing. I’m not a transplant and I have plenty of family in the exurbs that are willing to watch my children for $200 a month. You should have thought about the cost of childcare before you decided to not have that abortion, lol.

    • These kinds of comments reflect a Rush Limbaugh mindset and are so boring and tired that only an ignoramus would repeat the Tea-Party-isms and claim they’re joking.

      When I decided to have kids I priced out the private school I wanted to send my kids to. It was $15,000 per year- totally affordable.

      By the time my wife got pregnant and my kid was ready to start school that same school wanted $32,000 per year per student. I spoke to a friend with a kid there and her parents pay roughly $40,000 for that school with all the donations, uniforms, books, etc. So, from $15,000 to $40,000. You tell me how anyone could be expected to plan for that.

    • Your comment is offensive. Were it possible for me to be so rude I might say something about the kind of inbred hillbilly Jerry Springer watching yahoos who would take care of a child for $1.25 an hour.

  • It’s sort of shocking that many of you people want full-time help yet bitch over paying them appropriately. Granted, this city is nearly impossible to live in as is, but paying someone substantially less than cost of living isn’t going to do you any favors. $500 a week for full time help? Unless it’s shared, that’s not a very livable salary.

    • for a pro nanny. sure. but the OP really wanted to find an affordable day care. i couldn’t afford to pay anyone 500 per week and thats a pretty shocking amount of money for some of us. to go from looking for a day care to realizing that one may have to shell out 400-500 a week is very tough.

      • Day care, yes, I can understand it, but other people are complaining about having to pay full private time help $500 a week – $26K annually. Expensive? Yes. Very. But what exactly did you expect was going to happen? If you want good, private in-home care, you need to be paying that person enough to live or expect to get subpar help, which isn’t the sort I’d want to leave my kids with.

  • The SED center at Kansas and Upshur is amazing — lots of love and attention, infant – preschool, brand new. I’m not sure about wait lists, etc.

  • try also. I have foubd some great and not so great sitters and providers through that site. They have come to my home and although I was paying what you’re trying not to pay, I have 2 kids so it seemed almost reasonable to.

  • Thanks to all of you that left constructive comments. I’ve gotten a lot of good advice!

  • Frustrated Mom,
    Since you mentioned that you live in Bloomingdale, another option is to check out Catholic University students. CUA is walkable, and bus-able to Bloomingdale, and you will be sure to get a good deal with a responsible student.

    I attended CUA for college, and have great things to say about it and its students. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s just like any normal liberal arts college… very much like Villanova.

    Anyway, while in attendance, a few of my friends and I used to babysit/nanny for babies and toddlers all around the city, however, at that time, Bloomingdale wasn’t too safe. CUA would definitely be a good choice – try to get in touch with their Campus Ministry Advisory, and/or their Residence Hall Association to find out if you can get on a list-serve, or get some names…

Comments are closed.