Sick children home alone? Not with Care in a Crunch

By Jane R. Elgass

Help is at hand for parents of young children who find themselves in a bind when the children are ill, the day care provider is unable to work or some other emergency arises.

Care in a Crunch, a program developed by the Family Care Resources Program, will provide parents with names of students who can pitch in on an emergency basis to care for the children.

“The program is the brainchild of our advisory board,” says program coordinator Leslie de Pietro. “It is a way to address the problem of care for sick children, who cannot go to their usual day care setting, but cannot be left home alone.”

De Pietro stresses that the program is for “one-time, emergency situations, not a babysitting service.” She also notes that to use the program, the situation must be related to the individual’s University appointment, not an activity related to their non-work life.

Most students who have volunteered for the program are undergraduates who are interested in working with children and are studying in such areas as education, social work, psychology and nursing. Some are volunteers with University child care programs.

The program is being administered by child care referral specialist Ingrid Charlson.

Charlson encourages parents who think they might need Care in a Crunch “to call in advance for names, so they have time to interview the students and check references, rather than wait until the last minute.”

The program is restricted to the Ann Arbor area and not all of the students are able to provide their own transportation.

There is no fee for the service, but parents are asked to pay a minimum of $5 per hour, which is negotiable with the care providers. Charlson also notes that the program tries to recruit students who have four-hour or full-day blocks of time available to care for children.

De Pietro and Charlson both caution that the program is “an information and referral service only. We do not screen or endorse any of the students. It is the parents’ obligation to contact the students and to verify references.” (The program will provide names of references on request.)

Information about Care in a Crunch and the Family Care Resources Program’s regular child care referral service is available by calling 998-6133. The office is located at 715 North University.


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