Most daycares only operate on a 5am or 6am to 5pm or 6pm schedule. This is because a lot of parents work first shift and are typically finished with work during these times. Unfortunately, that creates a conundrum for parents who work second shift and single parents who are forced to work swing shift or third shift to make ends meet. If you are really lucky, you might find a daycare that operates until midnight, but rarely, if ever, is there a daycare that operates on third shift or 24/7 daycare.
If you do find a 24/7 daycare, these places are heavily regulated. They must be licensed for around the clock care, and they must be fully staffed, regardless of the time of day. If you are going to enroll your children in a 24/7 daycare because of the unusual work hours you keep, there are some special ground rules that both parents and 24/7 daycares have to abide by.
1. No Child Can Remain in Daycare Longer Than a Single Shift Plus Travel Time
Most of the standard daycares in operation abide by this rule as well. You cannot leave your child in daycare longer than 8-10 hours in most states. Doing so constitutes child abandonment and/or neglect, and repeated occurrences can mean that the daycare can call Child Welfare/Child Protective Services and the police. If you have a really unusual work situation, such as mandatory overtime, talk to the center director ahead of time.
2. No Child Can Be in 24/7 Daycare More Than Five Successive Days
The idea behind this rule is that every child has a right to see his/her parents and spend some quality time with the parents. If you are a single parent, that quality time with your children is even more important. You already do not want your children to be raised by total strangers, so make some time to stay at home with them at least twice a week. As long as your child is not in daycare more than five successive days, that can work out, too.
3. In the Safety Interests of All Children in the Center at Night, the Center Has to Be Well-Staffed
When children are staying overnight in the center, the center is limited to "x" number of children in each room. The center also has to have at least two teachers on duty in each room in the center overnight. The reason for this has everything to do with fires. If a fire breaks out in the center overnight, there has to be enough staff to wake and move all of the children outside to safety.