New Year’s child care |

New Year’s child care

Take the hype of a millennium New Year’s Eve, couple it with demand for quality child care and you end up with one lucrative business for those who don’t mind working that night.

South Shore baby-sitters and child care facilities are still reporting dozens of openings for New Year’s Eve, but it’s not because people aren’t planning a night out sans children.

“I think people are making their own plans, deciding where they’re going to be that night, and haven’t thought about where they’re going to leave the kids,” said Mommies Day Care owner Holly Shamas. “I think people will start calling in the next couple of weeks.”

The last-minute planning falls in line with this year’s trend in entertainment bookings. Either people aren’t leaving their homes this New Year’s Eve, or they’re waiting for prices to come down before making plans.

Lake Tahoe lodgings are reporting a significant drop in bookings this year compared to last, with half as many reservations. Nationwide, resorts which started the year like gangbusters on New Year’s bookings are experiencing a huge drop-off.

Choices for Children, a South Shore child care resource agency, has experienced a similar decline in calls in the last couple of weeks.

“We had a lot of calls prior to Thanksgiving, but it’s really quieted down,” said one Choices for Children employee. “Most of the calls were from out-of-state people, some from the East Coast, and most of them wanted to bring care into where they’re staying that night.”

Those callers are being referred to local baby-sitting companies which send employees out to work on site. Other holiday travelers will be coming to town looking to drop their children off at day care centers or home-based facilities. They’re finding that, like entertainment, day care won’t come cheap on New Year’s Eve.

“Some of the people we talked to were asking astronomical fees for baby-sitting,” said Marlene Lindley of Concord, Calif.

Lindley and her family will be meeting up with friends from Chicago on New Year’s Eve for a long-awaited millennium get-together. Lindley said making the decision to leave her grandsons for the night was difficult enough without the steep rates piled onto it.

“One person wanted $250 for five hours for up to six children, and $25 an hour after that. I guess that’s not bad if you have six children, but we don’t,” Lindley said.

Lindley was referred to Mommies Day Care by a rental agent who helped the group find accommodations. She’ll pay $100 for both children for the night, which will include care from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., a New Year’s Eve pizza party and breakfast.

“The hours give parents time to enjoy dinner and have breakfast the next day without having to rush,” Shamas said.

Shamas has two children booked so far and plans to take in six more at $75 apiece. Choices for Children has a listing of seven other state-licensed day care providers who plan to be open. Many of them are charging flat rates for the night and a few are charging by the hour. Most are charging too much, according to Shamas.

“One hundred dollars for the night per child? That’s unreasonable. What about people who have two children? Do they have to pay $200?” Shamas said. “Can we really put a price tag on our children. Sure, we’ll make money doing it, but I really am disappointed in some of these prices.”

Baby-sitting, licensed or not, isn’t coming any cheaper.

Tahoe International Sitters is offering a five-hour package deal: two children for $200. Company owner Sally Monte said the rates have been raised for the holiday, up from $9 per two children with a four-hour minimum plus a travel fee.

Tahoe International Sitters has all 10 of its Trustline-registered babysitters available for the night. Monte said there’s not a lack of interest, but the reservations aren’t happening.

“We’ve had a lot of calls for information, but we haven’t booked anything,” Monte said.

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