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Consultants to help solve all of your parenting dilemmas

These days you can outsource everything—even potty training, summer camp scheduling and sleep coaching.

Illustration: Mitch O'Connell

Your nine-year-old wants to try overnight camp, but you can’t tell the difference between them.
The solver
Enid Grabiner of Camp and Teen Travel Consultants in Northbrook, who has been matching kids with camps for more than 25 years and has 750 programs on her radar (847-272-1905)
The approach
After a phone chat, Grabiner meets with families to hone in on key factors, including geographic proximity, budget and a preference for specific activities, then comes up with two or three options.
Cost
The service is free to families; Grabiner receives commissions from the camps. Expect to spend up to two hours at your initial meeting (she’s available for unlimited follow-up meetings, calls and e-mails).

Your baby still won’t sleep through the night.
The solver
Janeen Hayward of Swellbeing has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is known for solving sleep problems (312-676-1948).
The approach
Hayward develops a plan and provides a road map to follow, explaining what to expect at each step, then she provides coaching for two weeks. About a third of her clients have sleep issues related to multiples.
Cost
Parents can e-mail or call as often as needed, and most parents touch base daily. A consultation package costs $295 with a phone call that lasts about an hour; an in-home visit is $395.

Your three-year-old needs to be potty-trained by the time school starts in the fall, and he’s not even close.
The solver
The Potty People, a division of Belgrade Behavior Consulting in Chicago, a team of behavior analysts who work with both special-needs and typically developing children (773-407-1121)
The approach
A customized program focuses on tackling the “individual obstacle of the child,” which can range from office consultations to four-day, in-home training session with two consultants per child.
Cost
After filling out a questionnaire, you go to the office for an intake session, during which a consultant recommends a course of action. Regular sessions cost $125 per hour; the intensive program with two consultants is $150 per hour.

You have no idea where to start, or how to navigate, the Chicago school application process.
The solver
Chicago School GPS, run by three Chicago moms—Grace Lee Sawin, Carolyn Gold Aberman and Ginger Hecht, plus parochial school specialist Melissa Michaels. They guide parents through the process of finding a school that’s a good fit—public or private, from elementary through high school.
The approach
Fill out an intake form, then meet to discuss school options. “Our niche is hidden gems schools,” says Sawin. “We try to introduce parents to [new] schools and widen their net.” Also offered: 30-minute express phone consultations and private group sessions.
Cost
An initial consultation and 90-minute meeting run $175; a 30-minute express phone consult costs $45; group sessions typically range from $200 to $500. The standard hourly rate is $100.

Your child isn’t thriving at school. She needs extra attention and you don’t know how to get it.
The solver
Jane Herron, a retired teacher and school administrator who worked in both public and private schools, both mainstream and special education, in Chicago and the suburbs (773-852-8103; rjherron@rcn.com)
The approach
Individualized to the family and the situation but may include case management, navigating specific processes to receive special school accommodations, collaborating with teachers to develop goals and helping find a school that’s a good fit from elementary through high school. About 75 percent of her clients have “unique learning needs,” whether it’s giftedness, a learning difference or a medical condition. Herron also works with families relocating to Chicago to find schools.
Cost
In-person meetings cost $200 per hour.

Your toddler only eats five things and has a fit when you try to introduce anything new.
The solver
Lara Field of FEED, a registered dietitian and a board-certified specialist in pediatric nutrition who also helps families dealing with allergies and medical issues such as celiac disease (847-651-4729)
The approach
Field meets with parents three to five times, including a home visit, to observe the family at mealtime, then recommends environmental and behavioral changes and suggests specific meal times and foods to try. Later, she does a pantry makeover or grocery store tour with a parent.
Cost
Field’s picky-eater package includes a consultation, follow-up and grocery-store tour or pantry makeover for $500; à la carte services cost $200 per hour.

You want to keep your family in the city, but you don’t know how to crack the secret code governing Chicago preschool admissions.
The solver
Laura Gradman of Chicago Preschool Pro, a former middle school teacher and high-school counselor, who is familiar with the educational philosophies and cultures at several dozen public and private city preschools in Chicago (312-933-3985).
The approach
Gradman meets with the family to determine educational and logistical requirements, and then suggests six to eight options, explaining the admissions process at each school. She leaves the parents with key dates and deadlines and is available for follow-up questions by phone or e-mail.
Commitment factor
A package that includes two meetings plus phone and e-mail follow-up costs $500; Gradman also works on an hourly basis for $125 per hour, which is especially useful for parents who have done research but are still coming up short.

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