Getting Help When You Have a Sick Kid

What do you do when your kid gets sick on a work day? Now there’s the ultimate juggling test. If you’re lucky, you have back-up care readily available — or at least an understanding manager/employer that will be fine with you taking a day or two off to care for your lil’ sickling.

But what if you simply have to work (for whatever reason) and have no Plan B at your disposal? No Grandma nearby to swoop in with her chicken soup or SAHM friend who’s happy to pitch in when you need it? That’s when the resources of a back-up care agency can really save the day.
Earlier this week, I met up with a local woman who co-owns a franchise of one such agency, Homewatch Caregivers. Lauri and I had a “networking” coffee at Panera after being introduced through a mutual friend.
Lauri explained what her company does, including a whole host of in-home care services, but here’s what intrigued me most: They work with companies who want to offer employees either paid or discounted back-up care for sick kids, pre- and post-natal mothers, special needs children and other services.
What an awesome benefit! Can you imagine what a huge relief it would be if you had a big meeting or looming deadline when your child was sick, and you could call this agency to get the Supernanny to show up ASAP? For free or at a reduced cost? Not to mention the goodwill you’d feel toward an employer who helped you out at home during mandatory pregnancy bedrest or after a difficult delivery.
I realize the economy stinks right now and many companies are struggling just to stay afloat. This kind of job perk may seem like a total pipe dream to a lot of us. But I also think it’s worthwhile for employers to consider adding benefits like Homewatch Caregivers provides to keep your employees working and happy, especially now. You need your best people (and their undivided attention) to be competitive in this economic environment, so why not help them out on the homefront and reap the profits, too?

8 thoughts on “Getting Help When You Have a Sick Kid

  1. My company had this sort of reduced price back up child care near the office. Unfortunately it was cut as a benefit this year…

  2. My husband’s employer offers this benefit (as well as on site child care). I’ve never used it, but there is a “network” that includes other centers with sick kid accommodations, as well as in-home caregivers. I don’t think it’s free to employees, but just the fact that it is available and possibly discounted is helpful. I think maybe it offers elder care as well, for parents or older family members who can’t go out (my husband’s employer also offers Elder Day Care).
    This kind of Work/Life Benefit is great, but I fear a lot of companies will cut these programs in tough times. But I guess that’s better than laying people off.

  3. Mama Needs a Cosmo says:

    OMG!! My boss and I were JUST talking about how moms need a service like this!! Although, the service we were thinking of was more of a back-up care for moms, as well as someone who would stay at your house to meet a installation or repair person while you are at the office. We called it “a wife for the wife.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    This kind of thing is great and I’d never knock anyone for using it. However it just isn’t for me. I work full time, but when my kids are sick, they want mom (or dad). I’d feel strange leaving them with someone they are not used to even for a day. My girls would be very uncomfortable with it. So, that said, even if it was a free benefit at my work, I would not use it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My husband’s university offers this to staff and faculty. Our child hasn’t arrived just yet (8 more weeks!) but I am already very excited about this benefit. I think we pay for the service, but even having a number to call and know that you can get help covering the childcare is great. While we both have flexible kinds of jobs and will be able to balance sick days most of the time, we also both travel occasionally for work, and having this benefit will be so helpful.

  6. Nicola Ries Taggart says:

    What a great idea. Although many of us working moms (and dads) would prefer to be the ones staying home when their kid is sick, there are those times when both parents have an important meeting, client or trip and back-up is really needed. I hear from busy, professional, working moms all the time that this is one of their bigger issues and challenges. It seems as if the higher up you are, the more challenging take full days off when a kid is sick can be. Having a plan is KEY!

  7. Nuclear Mom says:

    Neat idea. Luckily I work in a family friendly environment and for the most part can dictate my schedule. Though one of my fears is a kid getting sick and both my husband and I having somthing we *can’t* miss. So far with two kids, it hasn’t happened yet (knock on wood).

    I would be hesitant to leave my sick kid with a stranger, but I can also see situations where you don’t have a choice – and many employers aren’t as flexible as mine.

    The Cosmo Mama brings up an excellent service we need – a back up mom. We often joke that we need a second wife. My husband works 4 – 12 hour days (including an hour commute each way). I work the normal schedule. I have declined, pawned off and squirmed out of travel opportunities/requests because me traveling = necessary vacation time for my husband.

  8. Did you just use the term “this economic environment”? I thought so.

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