Juggling work and childcare is often one of the biggest struggles that families face.
If you work long, unsociable, or irregular hours, it can be difficult to find a daycare that fits around your needs.
The good news is that the opening times for daycares vary depending on the facility, so you don’t have to be tied into school hours or office hours only.
So let’s get into it — what time do most daycares open and close?
In this guide to daycare opening times, we’ll give an overview of what times you can expect most daycare centers to be open for business.
We’ll also give some suggestions for what you can do if you need someone to watch your kids outside of these hours.
What time do daycares open?
Most daycare centers in the United States open from around 7 am until around 6 pm, Monday through Friday.
However, some open as early as 6 am and close at 7 pm. Some specialist daycares are also open during the evenings, at night, and at weekends.
This is because most daycare and preschool chains are individually owned and operated franchises, so it’s down to the owners to choose their own business hours.
If you feel that 7 am until 6 pm won’t fit with your work schedule, then one daycare option to look into is KidsPark.
Some KidsPark daycare centers are open until 10 pm and also on the weekends.
Plus, because this childcare provider offers flexible care with no commitments, you can use the service as and when needed rather than committing to regular days and times.
Remember that you don’t need to drop off your child as soon as the daycare opens and collect them at closing time.
Times are generally always flexible so you can arrive at the daycare later and collect your child early if you wish to.
Full days or half days
Some daycares offer parents the option to book half-day sessions instead of the full day.
In this case, you may be able to book a session from 7 am until 12:30 pm or 12:30 pm until 6 pm, for example.
Half days can be a good option for parents working part-time who are able to choose their own working hours.
If you can do this, you may find that both you and your baby are happier with short sessions each day rather than fewer long sessions each week.
(Plus, of course, you’ll save quite a bit of money vs full-time daycare.)
When choosing a daycare, you’ll want to ask about opening times during the holidays.
While some daycares close only for a few days per year such as Christmas, others are closed for a whole week at Christmas plus holidays like Veterans Day as well as extra days for cleaning and staff training.
Preschool opening hours
Once your child reaches three years of age, you have the option to keep them in long day care or to move to a preschool that’s open during school hours only.
Just like elementary schools, preschools for 3- to 5-year-olds are typically open between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm for 42 weeks of the year.
There will be some variation on the exact timings.
(Learn more about preschool vs daycare here.)
As your child begins to transition to Pre-K and Kindergarten, you’ll want to consider the hours that your local childcare options are open.
With school hours programs, you may be able to add on wraparound care that includes breakfast and dinner.
What time do daycares close?
Most daycares in the Unites States close around 6:30 pm.
However, some specialist daycares are open until 10 or 11 pm in the evening to accommodate parents working late shifts.
Preschools and pre-K classes, however, sometimes close as early as 3 pm each day.
If you need daycare past 7 pm in the evening, you’ll want to look for a specialist provider such as KidsPark that’s open later.
As young children often go to sleep as early as 7 pm, you’ll want to consider your child’s routine and how you can balance this with your working hours to ensure that they get a good night’s sleep.
If your child attends a preschool or Pre-K that closes at around 3 pm, but you have to work until around 5 pm, you may find that wraparound care is available to fill this gap.
Here are the approximate opening times of some popular daycares:
- KidsPark – 6:30 to 8 am through 6 to 10 pm
- The Learning Experience – 6:30 am through 6:30 pm
- Lightbridge Academy – 6:30 or 7 am through 6:30 or 7 pm
- Children’s Lighthouse – 6:30 or 7 am through 6 or 6:30 pm
- Discovery Point – 6:30 am through 6:30 pm
- Kiddie Academy – 6:30 or 7 am through 6:30 or 7 pm
- The Goddard School – 7 am through 6 pm
- Kids R Kids – 6 or 7 am through 5 or 6 pm
- Primrose Schools – 6:30 am through 6 pm
(Learn more about these chains here: The best daycares and preschools)
What to do if you need extra childcare
With many parents working long hours plus the time needed to commute, it’s common to find that it’s a struggle to fit a full day’s work into the opening hours of your local daycare centers.
If this is the case for your family, there are some ways that you can work around the problem.
Here are some options to consider if you find that you need extra childcare outside of normal daycare hours…
Choose a daycare with longer opening hours
Some specialist daycares are even open 24 hours per day to accommodate parents who work night shifts.
Ask other working parents in your local area or in local groups and forums online to find suitable options.
Choose a center closer to your workplace
While many parents choose a daycare that’s close to their home, you may actually be better with one that’s closer to your office.
If you have an hour-long commute, this can make a huge difference to whether you can make the opening and closing times.
Look for family daycares
Family daycare is located in someone’s private home, rather than a purpose-built center.
You may find that childminders are able to offer more flexible hours later into the evening or are willing to take your kids out on day trips at the weekend along with their own children.
Hire a babysitter
A trusted babysitter could collect your children from daycare when it closes and bring them to your home.
You can leave them to make the snacks, do the bathtime, and get your kids ready for bed so that you can arrive home from work a little later.
Check marketplaces like Care.com to find one.
Get a nanny or au pair
A nanny or au pair will live in your home with you.
If you can afford it, this can be a good alternative to daycare for those who work long hours.
You can arrange with the nanny the hours that you’ll need them and the hours that they’re free to do their own thing.
Enlist the help of friends and family members
If you have the occasional early start or late finish at work, it can really help if you have friends or family members to call on.
There may even be other parents at daycare in the same situation as you, so perhaps you could arrange to collect each other’s kids if one of you is running late.
When choosing a daycare for your baby, toddler, or preschooler, it’s important to think about the opening and closing times as well as the holidays.
Be sure to look closely at your schedule to make sure that the hours fit your needs before you sign up.
If you work long or unsociable hours, finding childcare can be tricky.
However, there are some daycares that open during the evenings and at weekends, as well as other options like babysitters and nannies.
For more, check out:
Hope this helps!