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Drop in Daycare

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Drop in daycare, or short-term daycare, differs from regular preschool daycares and childcare centers in its flexibility. Drop in daycares are designed so parents can drop off their children for short periods of time while they run errands, go on doctor appointments, or do other non-employment tasks.

Many drop in daycare centers are independent businesses. However, some drop-in daycare centers are operated inside gyms, shopping malls, churches/religious centers, resorts/hotels and spas. Most drop in child care centers have more than 15 children, and the children usually range from 1 year to 12 years old.

Drop In Daycare Hours

The parents must stay nearby, usually within 15 minutes of the center and should leave their phone number or contact information. Drop-in daycare centers have slightly different hours than a standard daycare center. They are usually open on weekdays, weekends and during nighttime hours as well. Each state daycare regulation board sets the operation rules for drop in daycares. Most drop in daycare centers have a limit on the amount of hours a child can attend, usually no more than 4 hours a day.

Drop In Daycare Costs

Most drop in child care centers charge per the hour, per a child. Many drop in daycare centers offer discounts for parents who pay package rates or have multiple children. Average cost is about $8 to $10 an hour. All meals and snacks are normally purchased ala carte, usually for about $2.50 to $4.00 each. Late fees and registration costs may also be added to bill; always ask what costs are included in the hourly fees and what services are extra. All prices vary by region and franchise.


Some drop in daycare centers have different activity schedules for the entire day, including set times for story times, nap times, arts & crafts, group games, and movie/video games. Some centers have “free activity” format for the kids. A few drop in centers have a preschool program that follows a set curriculum for children under the age of 5, with some theme-based learning activities for language, arts, math and social studies. Older school age kids may have an activity area or lounge which is separate from the younger kids.


Drop in daycare centers follow similar policies to full time daycares. Drop in centers do not require reservations, but they can fill up during busy time periods. Parents are asked to bring a change of clothing, personal items and food for the child. Children who are sick or cause repeated discipline problems maybe refused admission. Parents should ask about attendance, discipline, emergency, sanitation and security policies before enrollment.

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