In January, we released a new report, “It’s About Time: Parents Who Work Nonstandard Hours Face Child Care Challenges,” where we highlighted the need for and the obstacles in accommodating nonstandard hours child care. We also highlighted groups who are doing it right! Here is one child care provider’s journey to provide nonstandard hours care in her community.
Night Owl’s Child Care is something that I started dreaming about when I was working in a hospital. I worked 12-hour overnight shifts: seven days on and seven days off. The hospital did have child care but they closed the overnight care. There weren’t any other evening and night child care options for my son. I didn’t have family around and friends were busy with their lives. Later in life I told Daniel, (my partner & fiancée) about my idea to fulfill this need and he was supportive, although he was hesitant at first. Then, one night he had gone to one of his union labor meetings and this problem of after hours care was mentioned. He came home and was even more excited about our project and all hesitation subsided–and Night Owl’s Child Care was formed. At Night Owl's, we specialize in 24/7 child care in a family child care setting.
One obstacle that was initially in our way was the presentation of our business plan. At first, people weren’t convinced of why we were even considering having a nonstandard hours child care program. I’ve pointed out that not everyone works 9-5 jobs; what would they do if they got a job working 2nd shift or 3rd shift? What if your spouse/partner isn’t available to watch your children? What if your family and friends aren’t available either? That’s when it dawns on them, they realize that they wouldn’t know what to do.
Another obstacle that we have noticed is that when talking to licensing agents, they didn’t have a lot of information about night care. They would reference day time child care and would have to do research on the night time care. At first, we were just going to do evening and overnight care. But as people learned about us, we keep getting calls about drop-in care during the day and evening. So we have turned it into the 24-hour child care.
Our biggest obstacle by far is funding. I totally understand the importance of this. When we were only offering evening and overnight care, funders weren’t interested. They didn’t think that there would be a lot of interest. When we changed it to 24-hour child care, lenders were more open to talking with us. This has been an educational process for not only us but others as you see above. Many people have missed work and job promotions due to lack of care. People have too work so they can support their families but can also become stressed because they have to leave their children to go and do it. The children may be safe, but it’s the not knowing that is stressful.
At Night Owl’s Child Care, we are offering families a stress-free and safe place for their children to rest, learn, play and grow, while they have to work. Our center is secure and families can look in and watch their children at any time. This will give them the reassurance that they are safe and help relieve that stress. Our children are precious and giving families peace of mind is an important to us.
Our mission is to encourage a life of honesty, integrity, and unconditional passion and to never lose sight of what is most important, all the while, making the world a more beautiful place. We owe those children a chance to be cared for in a family child care setting where they are encouraged to be the best they can be.
We are looking forward to our grand opening this fall and offering 24-hour care in the Burnsville, Minn. area!
Learn More About the Nonstandard Hours Report
Families who work nonstandard schedules are inequitably affected by lack of child care. And while occupations requiring nonstandard schedules are projected to see the most employment growth by 2020, child care during these working hours is nonexistent and, often, unlicensed. Check out our 2019 report, It's About Time: Parents Who Work Nonstandard Hours Face Child Care Challenges where we examine what this means not just for child care but for the economy.
Terin Wuitschick and Daniel Winker are the founders of Night Owl's Child Care in Minnesota.