The Cost of Relative Care
Relative care is childcare provided by a relative in their home or yours. The relative could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin, or any relative in your family. There are advantages and disadvantages to relative care that must be considered. In addition, the decision to pay a relative for childcare and its cost varies widely from situation to situation.
The Benefits of Relative Care
- You have a prior relationship with the caregiver, so you can feel assured that your child is safe and that your child's needs are being met. In addition, a family member will usually share your values and goals with respect to your child's development.
- There is typically more flexibility in scheduling and other requests. If you have to work later or earlier than usual, usually a relative is better able to accommodate your requests.
- If you pay for relative care, its cost is generally less expensive than preschool, daycare centers, or family daycare. You will also have more negotiating power with respect to childcare costs. As well, you will save time and money on transportation if your child is cared for by a relative in the home.
The Disadvantages of Relative Care
- The relative may not be abreast of early childhood development and curriculum that will prepare your child for kindergarten. If your child is the only child in the relative's care, he or she may also lack the interaction with other kids that is necessary for social development.
- If serious disagreements arise between the relative and the parent, chances are it will affect your childcare arrangement.
- If an elderly relative cares for your child, he or she may not have the energy or stamina to keep up with your infant or toddler.
The Cost of Relative Care
Whether or not you choose to pay the relative to care for your child is strictly between the two of you. Some parents can't afford to pay, and some relatives refuse payment. In some cases, parents will “pay” in gifts and deeds rather than cash.
If you have agreed to pay a relative to care for your child, your rates will vary. Some providers prefer to be paid by the hour, others weekly. Rates for relative care can range from minimum wage to $20 per hour. It all depends on what you agree upon.
You will also need to negotiate overtime, holidays, and vacation time just like any other childcare provider. While you do not necessarily need a formal contract, it may be a good idea to write down your agreement in order to make clear your rates and childcare expectations.
In all, relative care is an affordable and reliable childcare option for many parents, as long as there is a good relationship between the parent and the caregiver and there is clear communication between parent and provider.