The Magic City Classic is almost here and some day care centers are offering a solution to parents who want to celebrate the whole weekend but can't find a sitter.
The rivalry matchup between Alabama State University and Alabama A&M is more than a football game. It's tailgating and concerts, too.
But parents who may want to party or play also want a safe place for their children to stay. Sometimes, they are left in a bind trying to find a sitter for the whole weekend.
"The hardship is, the parents have nowhere to leave the children," Marie Marcus, owner of The Learning Express Park South in Bessemer, said.
Pam Whitt, who owns Cornerstone Child Development Center, which is also in Bessemer, knows it's a challenge too from her own clients.
"I hear it," she said. "[Parents] want to go out but they don't have a sitter."
This year, a number of day care centers are offering an option: 'Magic City Classic Shut-Ins.' Parents can drop kids off starting Friday night and leave them for the whole weekend until Sunday morning. The idea is simple, says Whitt.
"Parents go play, bring the children, let them stay," Whitt said.
Whitt says she was asked to hold a shut-in last year, but wasn't ready because it was her first year in business. But this year, she decided to take on the challenge. Not only will there be fun and games, but also field trips.
"We want to just take them somewhere. Let them tell us where they want to go. And we'll narrow it down," Whitt said.
Fun will also be a big focus at Learning Express Park South.
"We have three different moon walks that will be here, face painting, a projector with life size movies with pop corn, cotton candy, we'll have games," says Marcus.
Marcus and Whitt stress safety is the key at their centers. Both buildings have a secure entrance. Security will be provided at Cornerstone. A Bessemer Police Officer will be on hand at the Learning Express Park South for the entire time children are present.
Here's a quick guide to the 'Magic City Classic Shut-Ins':
Cornerstone Child Development Center, Bessemer, 205-434-2918
- $50 per child, offering a discount for siblings. Parents can drop kids off starting at 6 p.m. Friday. They must pick them up Sunday morning by 7:30 a.m.
The Learning Express Park South, Bessemer, 205-425-5437
- $75 per day, offering a sibling discount. Parents can drop of their children starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday night and pick them up by 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning.
Sunnyside Day Care, Birmingham, 205-836-2101
- $75 per child for one day or $125 per child for the entire weekend.
But it's also important that parents do their homework before choosing a center. Consider these questions when searching for a day care center:
- Is the center licensed? Does it have to be or is it exempt from licensure?
- Does the center have a special nighttime care provision in its license?
Also consider visiting the center unannounced and take a look around. If you have more questions about a particular center, you can call the Child Care Services Office at: 1-866-528-1694.
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