Ever need child care outside the normal 9 to 5 weekday? Check out this new trend I wrote about for MomsMiami.com.
It’s 9:15 p.m. and a single mother is picking up her 3-year-old from day care.
Make that "night care."
Sleepy, the little girl still wants to tell mom about her day, excitedly waving in mom’s face the arts and crafts project she put together with crayons and glue.
For many working moms and dads, 9 to 5 is not the typical workday.
Police officers, nail technicians, attorneys, flight attendants, restaurant operators and other occupations with nontraditional hours scramble to find child care that spans their work shifts. Child care operators are responding.
In the past year, three extended-hour centers have opened in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Jeanette Perez, whose website 2itch.com tracks businesses that are open 24 hours, calls the idea of night care “ingenious.” She says most of the 24-hour centers open near hospitals, where medical staff frequently work the more lucrative overnight shifts.
Melissa Mazzotta saw a business opportunity while operating the Downtown Learning Center on the fourth floor of Miami’s 100 S. Biscayne Tower. Mazzotta also operates the Fort Lauderdale Learning Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
“Parents had been requesting late-night hours for years,” Mazzotta said. Many downtown professionals unexpectedly forced to stay late at work or come in on the weekend routinely asked Mazzotta to consider longer hours.
Mazzotta obliged by opening a new facility on Eighth Street in Miami that is licensed for 24-hour care, though it is currently open only 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; and till midnight on Friday.
Mazzotta says she plans to add more hours as demand increases.
She accepts children age 2 months to 12 years. She offers hourly, daily and monthly rates.
Along with the late-night hours, these centers provide another popular service to time-harried parents: Drop-in babysitting. Who wouldn’t want a reliable sitter when they need it, without a lot of prior notice or set hours?
Miami mother Olga Dager, owner of Uni.K.Wax in Pinecrest, finds drop-in babysitting a huge relief. A business owner, her work hours are grueling. She wanted to spend Saturday nights having a nice dinner with her husband but found herself regularly scrambling to find a babysitter.
One Saturday night, she turned to The Fun Club in South Miami, which offers drop-off for movie night. When her kids enjoyed it, she encouraged friends to bring their kids there, too. “We go out for a nice night out and when we pick our kids up, they love it and don’t want to leave.”
Aunt D’s considers itself one of the pioneers of the late-hours concept having been open since 2001.
Each of its three locations in Broward County vary in their hours, however, the Plantation center is open Monday-Saturday until 11:30 p.m.
Manager Cindy Gusman says parents love the hourly drop off babysitting. They must call ahead to make sure the center has enough sitters. For parents who plan to use drop-in regularly, Aunt D’s sells a pass for 25 hours for $132. It also has hourly rates of $8 an hour.