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Finding low-cost child care

  Great piece on The Today Show this morning on finding cost-effective child care -- a hot topic in this economy. As we all know good, inexpensive child care is hard to find. It can be particularly difficult right now because working parents are discovering their wages are stagnant and hours are longer, but child care still costs the same. The average cost of child care per year: $5,500.

     Some suggestions: Nanny sharing. This is one I participate in with my neighbor. It works out great for both of us and saves us money. The nanny watches all of our children at the same time. There's another option, too -- Some families are sharing nannies who split their time between two households. There are websites out there to find parents in your area willing to nanny share. Google nanny share.

   Another idea: babysitting co-ops, larger groups of parents who take turns babysitting for other families. And, there are babysitting services such as Sittercity.com that will provide people who can help with logistics, walking your child to school in the morning or chauffeuring her to dance class. This route might be less expensive than hiring a full-time nanny.

   Of course bringing babies to work also is an option for some. (Might be worth asking about at your workplace)

    You might also want to check out nannynetwork.com.  A recent nanny convention (who knew there was such a thing) revealed nannies are declaring specialties such as working with multiples, kids with Autism, or newborns. These niche nannies get paid up to 50 percent more than traditional nannies so use them only if necessary.

   Are your child care costs going up? Beyond government-funded child care, have you discovered other low-cost options? What do you think of nanny sharing?