Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a work-at-home mom or dad, or even a full-time working one with regular childcare, with holidays and conference season upon us, we all need extra help from time to time. Here’s a quick list of places in the city that offer last-minute and/or part-time services.
The Nook (Bucktown and South Loop)
This full-service daycare allows non-member parents to book absent children’s open spots via an online app, which is regularly updated until 6 a.m. day-of. There is currently no smartphone app, but rumor has it that could soon become available as interest in the program grows.
Pros: Easy-to-use online app for scheduling; half- and full-day options; reasonable prices
Cons: Limited availability for last-minute drop-ins; better to book well in advance if you know you’ll need the help
Specializing in part-time childcare, K Grace serves many nurses, artists, photographers and others with non-traditional and/or flexible work schedules. Parents also use the service for last-minute sitters to run errands, finish some work or otherwise fill in the gaps. Bookings are made through an online calendar system up to 48 hours in advance (although K Grace staffers try to honor last-minute requests via an after-hours phone number), and the sitter is matched based on availability, experience and ability to meet special needs.
Pros: Highly vetted, CPR-certified sitters (over 1,000 on file) available same-day for last-minute needs; nights and weekend help available; high success rate for last-minute requests within a few hours
Cons: Complex pricing structure, which becomes more affordable the more you use the service; must pay sitter separately
Bright Horizons (various locations)
This nationwide daycare offers employer-subsidized backup childcare, including both drop-offs at the various centers or in-home help. Many clients take advantage of their own or their spouse’s benefits when they know schools will be closed or need someone at the last minute.
Pros: Subsidized last-minute care year-round; facilities across the country for use while traveling with children
Cons: Only available for those with employer-provided backup-care benefits; limit on number of days available for the services