It’s Saturday evening and Lakshmi and Vikal Dogra, residents of Shastri Nagar, Ghaziabad, want to go for a movie. They don’t want to take their year-old baby girl, who they call Tweety, with them. So what do they do? They drive a few blocks to Chiranjeev Vihar, and leave their baby in the able hands of Rohit and Kavita Verma, who run Innocentius, an exclusive night crèche, a night-time babysitting centre. Usually we have day care centres where working parents leave their children. But these close by six or seven in the evening.
Parents with erratic work schedules, or those who wish to take an evening out would earlier leave their kids either with their neighbour or pay through their nose with a 24-hour-nanny. But now, they have the option to leave their children at night at a safe place and kiss their worries goodbye.
“We couldn’t have thought of this a few months ago,” says Lakshmi. “Earlier, my husband and I had to leave our daughter with our neighbours or skip going out altogether. But ever since we met the Vermas, we know we can safely leave our baby with them.”
Since Innocentius opened, couples like the Dogras can go for their occasional dinners and parties, without having to worry for the safety of their baby. It’s the nuclear families that are looking out for such crèches. Although there aren’t official figures that show the number of parents opting for night crèches, the reason for which they started go to show that parents are looking for people to take care of their kids at night.
Started two months ago, the crèche operates from seven in the evening to seven in the morning. “We worked in different shifts and faced a lot of hardship in raising our daughter. We just wanted to help parents in similar situations,” says Rohit, who quit his job at Convergys, a leading BPO firm, to start Innocentius. They take children aged between three months and five years only. They haven’t started a kitchen yet, so the parents have to provide either a packed dinner or the food mixes (such as Cerelac), along with a change of clothes. Apart from a standard registration fee, there are hourly, daily, weekly and monthly rates applicable. Parents must specify at the beginning the plan they opt for. Dinkar Kumar Singh, whose son has been with the Vermas for the past 10 days, says the rates are reasonable and the location, convenient.
Near the bustling Mehrauli bus terminal, is another crèche that operates throughout the day, and is suitable for parents whose job involves frequent travelling. Care Plus World (CPW), a 24-hour crèche, opened in 2008, but has received a lot of requests for night care in the past year. Where they had only one child when they began, they now have up to 10 kids at times at night.
For single mother Angel Briganza, taking care of her son Jackson was a challenge, as she couldn’t find a good 24-hour-nanny. “My job takes me across the country and I cannot take my son with me all the time. I’m very glad to have come across CPW. The best part is that they have CCTV cameras installed inside and send me regular updates,” says Briganza. CPW also provides freshly cooked food to the children, apart from keeping them engaged in activities, such as colouring, learning the basics of reading, or playing with building blocks.
Manoj Babu and Valsala Manoj started CPW to help parents with erratic work schedules, or those going through tough times. “Before taking any child, we insist on ID proofs of the parents,” says Valsala. A lot of parents come to this centre with babies, but one has to know how they’re related. Thus, CPW ensures that whoever comes to their centre to enrol their child must have some ID proof.
Elaborating on security of children at the crèches, Innocentius’ Verma says, “At the time of giving their child to us, the parents must submit their ID proof, and a picture of themselves with the child.” The Vermas plan to install CCTV cameras at their crèche by next month. They also ensure that only the parents drop and pick up their children from the centre. This, Rohit says is to “avoid any controversy”. Mumbai is not far behind with its first night crèche Over the Moon, open on Friday and Saturday nights, from 7.30pm to 2am, specifically to give parents a chance to have an adult social life over the weekend.
Similarly, Esperanza in Hyderabad, another 24-hour care facility, takes children between the ages of six months and 12 years. Parents can also opt for Esperanza’s adhoc care, in case they wish to go for a movie, or a weekend trip In this fast-paced life of erratic work schedules, stressful life and the challenges of a nuclear family, parents do deserve a break. And for them, night crèches are a boon.