What are my child-care options?

Daycare centerCost According to Darcy Larmore, center director at South Loop KinderCare, parents will pay about $400 per five-day week for a child under...

Photo: Nicole Radja

Daycare center
Cost According to Darcy Larmore, center director at South Loop KinderCare, parents will pay about $400 per five-day week for a child under two. “In the suburbs, costs are a bit lower,” says Darcy. “Because prices are lower for things like rent.”
Why you’ll love it Less expensive than a nanny, and built-in socialization with peers means there will (hopefully) be less pant-leg tugging once Junior’s ready for preschool.
Why you might not You can’t drop off kids when they’re even a little bit sick, and pick-ups and drop-offs can add precious time to an already hectic schedule for working parents. Plus, fees for being a tiny bit late (6:01? That’ll be another $20) add up. And day-care employees won’t bathe your kids and do other things a nanny might, notes Chicago baby planner Amber Crosby.

Nanny
Cost Anywhere from about $10–$15 per hour; $1–$2 more for each additional child. If using a placement agency, tack on a one-time fee of $1,200–$3,000, according to Kayme Pumphrey, owner of South Loop-based K Grace Childcare.
Why you’ll love it Your bundle of joy gets one-on-one attention, and you (depending on the deal you work out) get added help with household chores. Plus, you call all the shots on big stuff like bottle and nap schedules.
Why you might not The price tag is high for that personal attention (though a nanny share with another family or two can cut costs). If you cherish privacy, this may not be the best option.  And you’re on the nanny’s schedule, Crosby says, and have to consider her when scheduling vacations and other events. Then, there’s that whole payroll tax thing.…

Child-Care Co-Op
Cost Formal co-ops, which are staffed with paid employees but where parents are still involved to varying extents in the running of the program, run about $2,300–$3,800 per year for two days of care a week. More casual co-ops, where parents may take turns as caregivers, tend to cost less.
Why you’ll love it You’ll instantly be part of a community with a built-in support system. Curriculums are often designed by early child-care experts.
Why you might not These programs don’t usually cover a full day, so you’ll need to line up additional child care if you work full time. Then there’s the additional time commitment for board meetings and other work that you’re obliged to do as a co-op member.

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