Back-Up Care for Providers

Within the childcare industry, there is a growing demand for back-up childcare. Caregivers who have the flexibility to provide back-up childcare have the opportunity to tap into an underserved parent market, meeting a real need while earning a sustainable income.

The growing number of dual-career families is continuing to rise. In fact, dual-career couples make up the largest segment of workers in all major corporations.  This leaves parents performing a constant juggling act as they try to meet the needs of children, career and home. Most often, childcare is the single force that holds all the pieces in the air. When childcare falls through, parents are left scrambling to pick up the pieces.

Parents may need back-up care if:

  • They have a mildly ill child who is too sick to go to daycare or school
  • Their regular childcare provider is sick
  • Their daycare center is closed
  • Their child’s daycare or school is closed in observance of a holiday
  • Their child’s daycare or school is closed due to inclement weather
  • Their nanny needs time off or is sick
  • Their child’s school is closed for professional development days
  • There is a gap in childcare arrangements
  • Their child’s school is closed for break and vacation
  • They need to travel for work an need extended care
  • They have to attend a last-minute work function.

Back-up childcare isn’t an alternative or replacement for ongoing childcare, but instead is designed to supplement it. When a parent’s ongoing childcare arrangements breakdown, having back-up childcare plan in place can mean the difference between a minor setback in the day and an impassible obstacle.

Characteristics of Back-Up Care Providers

Having to leave a child with a new caregiver can be stressful. A qualified, experienced caregiver can put parents and children at ease. While one of the most important characteristics of a back-up childcare provider is the ability to accept caregiving positions on short notice, back-up caregivers must also be experienced childcare providers. Since back-up care providers will be caring for children of various ages and stages, having experience caring for a variety of children will be helpful.

Since back-up care providers are constantly caring for new children and interacting with new families, they must be solid communicators who pay attention to detail. These providers must be organized and able to gather the information they need to do complete their short-term assignment successfully. Back-up care providers will need to take in and process information about each child so that they can meet his needs accordingly. They’ll also need to take note of the parent’s childcare preferences. To help a child feel safe and secure, they’ll need to try to keep the child’s schedule and routines similar to what he is used to.

Back-up caregivers must also be personable and able to connect with both children and adults quickly.  Back-up care providers who can engage children effectively will be most valued and appreciated.

Types of Back-Up Care You Can Provide

There are two main types of back-up childcare providers – in-home back-up childcare providers and center-based childcare providers.

In-home childcare providers are hired to provide childcare in the family’s private home. These providers may connect with the parents on the phone prior to the assignment or may simply show up at the scheduled time the provider is needed. Many back-up care providers are nannies and babysitters who have made a career out of providing quality, attentive childcare. Currently there is no licensing required for individuals who provide in-home childcare services.

Center-based providers work at childcare centers who offer back-up childcare to members of the community or employees of corporations who contract childcare services through them. Since daycare and childcare centers are highly regulated, there are licensing requirements in place for workers. The education and training requirements of workers at center-based childcare facilities will vary based on the type of center and state regulations.

Responsibilities of Back-Up Care Providers

Childcare providers who can step into meet a need and solve a parent’s childcare dilemma are in demand. Childcare providers are responsible for providing short-term childcare for parents whose ongoing childcare arrangements fall through.

In addition to creating a safe and nurturing environment for the children, in-home back-up childcare providers may be responsible for:

  • Providing personalized and attentive care
  • Keeping the child’s schedule and routine consistent
  • Preparing and/or serving nutritious meals and snacks
  • Transporting the child to and from school or activities
  • Administering medication, as directed and with consent
  • Keeping the child’s area neat, clean and tidy
  • Engaging the child with age-appropriate activities
  • Meeting the child’s physical and emotional needs
  • Creating a safe and nurturing environment for the child.

Back-up care providers who work in childcare centers are responsible for ensuring that all the necessary paperwork and documents are completed and on file before the child is welcomed into the program. Providers are responsible for creating a safe and nurturing environment for the child and helping the child adjust to the center’s established routine and schedule as they provide high-quality childcare.

How to Advertise Your Back-Up Care Services

Childcare centers who offer back-up care may partner with businesses to offer back-up childcare to their benefit-eligible employees. Back-up centers may contract directly with local companies or advertise their services with companies who specialize in providing benefit solutions to corporations.  Centers who serve the community may wish to advertise with local mom’s groups and in local parenting papers, in addition to listing their services in the local yellow pages and Internet directories.

In addition to word-of-mouth, there are many ways in-home childcare providers can advertise the availability of back-up childcare services. Providers can place ads in local parenting papers, advertise to local mom’s groups, create a website advertising their services, or hang up flyers in places moms frequent.

But one of the most effective ways of finding back-up childcare jobs is through utilizing an online back-up care provider recruiting website. Websites like, and provide a place for parents seeking back-up care and back-up childcare providers to connect. Providers can simply create a profile that will show up when parents search for caregivers in their area. Parents can then reach out to the provider to learn more. Some sites even allow caregivers to initiate contact with parent’s they are interested in learning more about. Online sites typically no not charge caregivers to create a profile, although some do offer upgraded membership options.

In-home childcare providers may also register with local nanny placement agencies and babysitting services that match back-up childcare providers with families seeking them.  Reputable agencies will screen providers and conduct background and reference checks on them prior to sending them out to provide childcare. Reputable agencies generally do not charge caregivers for matching them with families, but instead charge the family a placement fee.

Earning Potential for Back-Up Care Providers

Depending on the type of back-up care you provide and what area of the country you provide, your earning potential can vary greatly.

Typically in-home back-up childcare providers earn more than center-based back-up care providers. In-home back-up care providers can earn from $12 to $20 or more, depending on geographical location, experience and education. Back-up childcare providers who find their clients on their own through word-of-mouth or online nanny recruiting website can advertise their hourly rate to families. Those who find their work through nanny placement agencies and babysitting services may have limited control over their hourly rate, as most agencies will advertise a set fee for back-up childcare providers.

When a back-up care provider finds a position on her own, she is paid directly by the family. If she finds a back-up care position through an agency, she may be paid by the family or the agency, depending on how the agency gas structured their business. If an agency puts their back-up care provider on their payroll, the provider will be paid directly through the agency. If the agency does not, the parents will pay the nanny her hourly wage directly, in addition to paying the agency a set placement fee.

Whether working through an agency or on your own, the more back-up care you provide, the greater your earning potential will be. When working through an agency, back-up care providers who do not show up for assignments or cancel last minute will likely lose referrals and as a result, income.

Daycare and childcare center workers typically earn less than in-home childcare providers. The earning potential will vary from state to state and from center to center, however education and experience can certainly boost your earning potential.