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Backup and Drop-In Care

Backup care, also known as drop-in care, is short-term care you access when your regular childcare arrangements fall through. Care sought during school in-service days, holidays, breaks and caregiver illness all fall under the umbrella of backup care. View backup care FAQs.

Finding backup care

It's a good idea to explore backup care options and complete backup/drop-in care enrollment paperwork before the need arises. Resources to support your search for backup care providers can be found at the Finding Childcare page.

Northwestern faculty, staff and students may also access center-based backup/drop-in care at the following University partnership centers.

Bright Horizons@Evanston (1629 Orrington Avenue, Evanston)

How to Use Backup/Drop-In Care at Bright Horizons@Evanston:

  • View the welcome letter from Center Directer, Gina Mosqueda and meet the leadership team of Bright Horizons Evanston.
  • Complete the Enrollment Forms and view the immunization chart. Forms can be submitted to the center via email at evanston@brighthorizons.com.
  • Call Bright Horizons at 847-491-9032 to determine if space is available as soon as you know you'll need drop-in care.
  • Bring appropriate items such as a change of clothing, diapers, and a comfort item like a blanket or favorite toy.
  • When you arrive at the center, pay for the appropriate aged-based backup care fee and obtain a receipt for reimbursement.
  • Submit a Backup Care Reimbursement Claim. Attach your receipt/invoice to the claim form. Submit the receipt for $25 per use up to $150 per household, per school year. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted within 30 days of use.

McGaw YMCA Children's Center (1420 Maple Avenue, Evanston)

How to use Backup/Drop-In Care at McGaw YMCA Children’s Center:

  • Complete the Backup Care Registration Form and DCFS Enrollment Packet and return them to the center at 1420 Maple Ave in Evanston. For additional enrollment information, please visit the enrollment page.
  • Call the McGaw YMCA Children’s Center at (847) 475-8580 to determine if space is available as soon as you know you'll need backup care.
  • When you arrive at the center, pay for the appropriate aged-based backup care fee and obtain a receipt for reimbursement.
  • Submit a Backup Care Reimbursement Claim. Attach your receipt/invoice to the claim form. Submit the receipt for $25 per use up to $150 per household, per school year. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted within 30 days of use.

University Children's Center (446 Ontario, Chicago and & affiliated Kindercare Centers)

How to use Backup/Drop-In Care at University Children’s Center & affiliated Kindercare Centers:
  • Pre-register as soon as possible by contacting the center director for The University Children’s Center (UCC) at (312) 867-7056. She will help you register at UCC.
  • Complete the UCC Backup Care Enrollment Form and fax it to the center.
  • Make a reservation between 24 hours and 14 days in advance, if possible, by calling the center director for the designated center.
  • Bring appropriate items such as a change of clothing, diapers, and a comfort item like a blanket or favorite toy.
  • Bring a $75 personal check, cashier's check or money order for each child.
  • Sign in and walk your child back to the appropriate classroom. Let the teacher know of anything that might help them care for your child.
  • Plan to spend an extra 10-15 minutes with your child at the center to help them settle in.
  • Obtain a backup care receipt. 
  • Submit a Backup Care Reimbursement Claim. Attach your receipt/invoice to the claim form. Submit the receipt for $25 per use up to $150 per household, per school year. Requests for reimbursement must be submitted within 30 days of use.

Backup Care Reimbursement Program

Paying for backup care, especially on late notice, may be stressful. To support faculty, staff, and students in navigating these situations, Northwestern created a Backup Care Reimbursement Program to help offset some of this cost.

The Backup Care Reimbursement Program provides:

Backup care reimbursement process

Sick childcare

If your child is ill and cannot attend their regular childcare provider, contact Kanella Rebapis at Illinois Action for Children for referral to special, in-home sick child care providers. You may apply to the Backup Care Reimbursement Program to help offset some of the cost associated with sick child care.