Daycares close at 5:30 - how do you make it work?

Why is it that 9 out of 10 daycares in the SF/East Bay close by 5:30? 

I am relocating from Seattle to Berkeley with my toddler and will be working in SF. In Seattle, daycares are open later (our current one is open until 7). I'm not sure how to even make a 5:30 pick up time work. I was wondering what other parents who work full-time do. How do you make the limited hours work?

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Our family adjusted schedules so that one parent dropped off and worked later, and the other went in earlier and then picked up by 5:30. Other families have babysitters or other caregivers who pick up and fill the hour before they get home. There are a few places open until 6 if you hunt, but I've never seen one open as late as 7. (Some close as early as 5--we took those off our list...) Good luck with the transition, and welcome!

There’s a very good pre-school called Nomura and they are open from 7-6pm. They are right off the Carlson Blvd exit and located in Richmond. Highly recommend! 

We had a great experience at Claremont Kids when our child was in preschool - I believe it's open till 6:30 (might be 6) - it also provides hot lunch & snacks and is open almost everyday (closed xmas, thanksgiving, 4th of july and that may be it!). 

It was great for working parents and I never felt guilty about taking my son there - he loved it. We still run into his teacher and she fawns over him (he's 11)! The main teachers have been there for many years, there's very little turnover. Highly recommend!



Many daycares close around 530-6pm because the providers have children and families theirselves.

I work in SSF and I leave work around 3pm to make a 5:30pm pickup and then work the rest of the hours from home.  Would that be an option for you?

Try and talk to your employer about flexibility with your hours - lots of folks are in this position and from what I've found employers understand and work with employees to make things work. My daughter can't be dropped off until 8 and picked up by 6, but I like to get to her by 5:30ish. I also work in SF.

Instead of taking BART and being uncomfortable and miserable with the commute, take an AC transit bus. You can sit, be comfortable, and most importantly have wifi. I get into the office by 9:30 and leave at 4:30, but am working during commute hours, which actually puts my at working day at roughly 8:15a - 5:15p, a full work day.

I think you can find until 6pm pretty easily but probably not much later. Why don't you live in SF so you don't have to commute as far and thus can pick up earlier? Or sounds like you might want a nanny so you can set your own hours or hire a caregiver to do pick up and be with your little one until you get home. My spouse and I switch off the earlier pick times and adjust our work schedules accordingly. Good luck! I find it always hard to sort out new childcare situations. 

We adjusted our schedules, so I start my day early and end early and my husband starts late. He does drop off and I do pick up. 

My daughter is in preschool but my daughter's daycare closed at 6pm although I try to pick her up by 530. I thought that was the norm but I could be mistaken. Either way I don't think I ever saw a daycare open until 7. To make the times work my wife and I alternate the pick up/drop off. She would drop our daughter off and go to work a little late but then stay longer to put in her hours whereas I would get to work early and leave earlish for the pickup.

New school open till 6pm

that where our little one goes.

Good luck 

I don’t know enough about your situation to know what will work for you but we found a daycare that opens at 7:30am and I adjusted my working hours to go in earlier and leave earlier. Also, if it’s the commute you’re worried about I would suggest finding a place close to work rather than a place close to home. Depending on your job, there’s always the old standby of leaving before you’re done for the day and bringing work home (far from ideal but sometimes necessary!). Good luck.

Agreed! Our daycare, CEC, is open 730-6, it's the longest hours that I've seen. Both of us work 9-12 hour days, so one of us does the drop off and the other does the pick up. We arranged with work to understand that we will be coming late or leaving early in order to make things work. I'll be interested to know how others do it. I've heard of people hiring a person specifically to do either the drop off or pickup so that both parents can put in longer hours, but that seems like quite an expense for us.

I work 3 blocks away from my child's day care so I can run over there and pick him up and off we go. 

When daughter was a toddler, I worked it out with my boss that I would leave work at 4:30, then put in an extra half hour or so, in the evening around 7 pm, after she was in bed.  I usually saved easy stuff to do during that time.  

My child was in a daycare that was very close to my office, which made it possible for me to get there by 5:30. Now my kids are in a preschool that closes at 6pm. It’s doable because I have a relatively short commute and a job that allows me to leave by 5/5:30. I haven’t heard of many daycares or preschools that are open until 7 - I agree that it’s probably pretty rare in the east bay. 

I, too, was dismayed to discover the poor hours in this area when I started looking. I'm currently pregnant and expecting my first baby at the end of July. My husband and I are both professionals and work full time. My hours are erratic (I work some day shifts from 8-5:30, but also work overnights), and his hours tend to run late. We also commute. A 5:30 pickup was completely untenable for us. To be honest, we scoured the area and found one (one!) day care center in Walnut Creek that is in a good location for us and has hours from 7-7. Obviously we wouldn't be using all of those hours all of the time, but it enables me to do earlier drop-off and earlier pickup, and him to do later drop-off and later pick-up. This particular center costs almost twice as much as many of the other options in the area, which is painful, but there's no sense in selecting an option that doesn't work for us. Moreover, it's still cheaper than a nanny. My only remaining recommendation is to talk to some in-home day care providers, particularly smaller ones, and seeing if any are able to be flexible, with additional pay, of course. It absolutely flummoxes me that in an area with so many couples who work full-time in professions that mandate long hours, day care hours are so poor. I wish you the very best of luck!

We also have adjusted work schedules to make it in time, and a few other families I know either carpool the kids to school (take turns picking up) or have grandparents do the pickup.  

Similar to previous posters: my co-parent and I alternated shifting our schedules so one of us always had to leave work early. Prior to finalizing our ability to do that, though, I had just started a new job and so could not arrange to leave early. We hired a nanny to do evening pick ups and dinner time 3 nights a week, and the co-parent left early 2 nights a week until we could do the coverage ourselves. Now the kids are in public school with aftercare - and we both still need to switch off leaving early to make it there by 6. 

I am in the exact same situation. I changed my work schedule to finish at 4:30. It is definitely not ideal but I could not figure out an alternative. 

People are rich here and have the means to make up for the gaps. Some have partners who don’t work and have the time to accommodate unreasonable daycare schedules.

Couples generally split drop-offs and pick-ups, or you can coordinate with other parents or hire a caregiver to do the pick-up. I had a nanny share until my child was 3, then chose a preschool with extended hours from 7 to 6.

Many find daycares that are open to 6. For age 0-3, we did nannyshare with a flexible family and a nanny who could stay until 6:30-7:30 until one of us could get home from SF. From 3-5, we did preschool that was open till 6 and the same nanny who was now working with another family could swing by and pick up our kid at 6 and stay until we got home. For age 5, we did Studio One after school program that is open until 6:30. Age 6 and up, our work became more flexible so we could pick up by 6 and when we can’t, we get sitters or ask another parent for help. It’s a maddening logistical gymnastics to juggle commute and hildcarez