Sandy Smith has been working from home and “social distancing” to avoid the Coronavirus since late February. Hunkered down with her husband and toddler in Long Island, NY, there’s only one thing she knows for certain. When all of this is over, the demand for child care is going to soar.

“Child care is normally cutthroat,” she says. “But when this is over, babysitters are going to have more business than they ever imagined. There are already people trying to steal slots in the daycare.”

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Demand for child care

Within days of Coronavirus-related school closures, stories about parental melt-downs and odes to teachers and day care providers started popping up on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Parents say they love their kids every bit as much as they did before the pandemic. But those lucky enough to have kept their jobs have been trying to work from home. Working with restless kids underfoot is challenging bordering on impossible, says Smith, who does payroll for an international company while running an online magazine as a side hustle.

Not surprisingly, many maintain that they’ll be sending their offspring to professional sitters and daycare providers the moment their communities reopen. It’s not just for the parents, adds Holly Johnson, a mother of two and co-founder at

“It’s not fair to the kids to be telling them to be quiet all the time because I have to work,” she says.

Opportunity for caregivers

If your business or industry didn’t survive the pandemic, the demand for child care could be an opportunity. In many states, schools won’t reopen until September, which could leave parents who normally don’t need child care scrambling to find educational camps or other forms of help. Some parents, newly cautious of big gatherings, may also be looking for day care in smaller settings.

That’s likely to spell ample work for both babysitters and people who want to take the additional step of opening their own daycare operation. Babysitting typically pays $10 to $25 per hour. However, if you go the extra step of creating a daycare center, you can earn far more.

Potential earnings

What can you earn by operating a child care center in your home? The answer varies widely based on where you are located and the age of the children you serve, says Mia Pritts, head of early care and education at Wonderschool, which provides billing and support for day care centers.

Day care tuition is higher for infants and toddlers than tweens. And rates in big cities are far higher than they are in smaller, rural communities. Additionally, you can charge more for programs that provide learning and enrichment than those that simply provide care.

The bottom line: Child care centers charge anywhere from $600 and $3,000 per child per month, Pritts says. In other words, if you watch four children you could earn from $2,400 and $12,000 per month.

Patience and licensing required

However, if you want to position yourself as a day care provider, rather than a simple sitter, it can take some time. It typically takes between two weeks and a month to obtain the necessary licenses to start a day care center in your home, Pritts adds. And it’s not something you should take lightly.

“Working with children is really important and really hard,” says Pritts. “It should be done intentionally.”

Or, just babysit…

Don’t want to start a caregiving career? You’re just looking for a way to keep the lights on until you can go back to your pre-pandemic profession? There are several sites, such as Urban Sitter,, Trusted and Bambino, that can help you find babysitting work. You can also trumpet your availability on neighborhood sites, such as Nextdoor.

Sign up for Care here.

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