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Center-Based Drop-In Care FAQs

How do I sign up for center-based backup care at Bright Horizons @ Evanston, McGaw YMCA Children’s Center, or University Children’s Center?

To pre-register in center-based backup/drop-in care at Bright Horizons@Evanston, McGaw YMCA Children’s Center or University Children’s Center, visit the Backup and Drop-in Care page and follow directions for your center of choice. Remember to pre-register as soon as possible (before you need it) for center-based backup care.

How do I sign up for center-based backup care at one of the Kindercare Center Network locations?

  • Download the list of eligible Kindercare Center Network locations.
  • Contact UCC Center Director Maia King at University Children’s Center, at 312-867-7056. Maia will help you register at the location most convenient for you and your family. (UCC is affiliated with Kindercare, and as such, can help you register at the center of your choice from the locations list above.)

Registration materials can be found under on the Backup and Drop-in Care page.

When can I start using center-based backup care at the centers listed above?

You must first register to use the program. The process may take several days to properly process the forms. Registration is free, and the sooner you register the sooner you can begin to use the program.

Will there be room for me at the last minute at these centers?

While centers request at least 24-hours’ notice, you may reserve your place up to 14 days in advance. However, if a last minute need arises, don’t panic – space may still be available.

How often can I use the program?

You can use the program up to 20 days per year, with a maximum of five consecutive days for each stay.

What age ranges do Bright Horizons@Evanston, McGaw YMCA Children’s Center or University Children’s Center, and Kindercare Center Network providers accept?

These centers accept children 6 weeks through 12 years of age. Please contact the center nearest you for classroom availability.

Can I visit the center?

Absolutely. We encourage you to visit the center before your child’s first day. That way, you and your child will have a chance to get comfortable with the staff and the surroundings. Call to schedule an appointment and we will be happy to give you a tour of any one of the designated KinderCare centers.

What can I do to ease the transition for my child?

While changes in usual routine can be stressful for both parent and child, child care providers strive to ensure that all children in the classroom feel cared for and comfortable. Parents are encouraged to bring along the child’s comfort objects, such as a blanket or soft toy, and spend a little extra time at drop off to help ease the transition to a new environment.

When can I use backup care?

Use backup childcare anytime your regular childcare arrangements are disrupted – up to 20 days per year per employee. It’s meant to supplement, not replace, your primary childcare. This program is not for use when your child is ill, but rather:

  • When your regular provider is ill or on vacation.
  • When you need to be at work on a school holiday.
  • When you are relocating and haven’t found permanent care.
  • When you are transitioning back to work from a leave of absence.

How does it work?

  • As a Northwestern faculty, staff, postdoc, or student, you can use the backup care program at a special daily rate per child. Contact the center you wish to utilize for updated information on backup/drop-in daily rates.
  • Pre-register as soon as possible by contacting the center you wish to utilize and following the instructions on the Backup and Drop-in Care page. Staff at the centers will support you in the pre-registration process.
  • As soon as you know there’s a problem with your primary childcare – up to two weeks in advance – call the center you wish to utilize, to reserve your space. You never know when you’ll need backup care, but the sooner you call, the more likely we’ll have room for your child.
  • When you arrive at the center, you’ll pay your special daily backup/drop-in care rate, and receive a receipt. Hold on to your receipt, and submit your application for backup care reimbursement.
  • In the event that you need to cancel your backup childcare plans, notify your center immediately – otherwise, the day will be counted as one of your 20 allotted days.
Any other questions? Contact