Your Child Care Options
The decision to entrust your baby or child into the care of somebody else when you return to work is hard, and it can be confusing deciding which type of service is best for you. As a starting point, here is a summary of the different types of childcare available. You need to check your local authority regarding what standards are mandated in your area.
These are licensed centers where groups of children are cared for by several caregivers.
- Multiple caregivers. This may be safer than having only one caregiver because it reduces the risk of your child being harmed through neglect or abuse.
- If a caregiver is unable to work, the center will provide a backup caregiver.
- Programming. Many people believe that a more structured program enhances their child's learning and development.
- More resources. Larger centers have more money to provide equipment, toys, and other resources.
- Many parents feel that their child may be overwhelmed or overlooked in a center with a large number of children.
- Childcare centers operate during the daytime, which may not be compatible with your working hours.
- Childcare Centers can be more expensive than other child-care services.
- Your child can not attend if unwell.
Family Child Care
Family child caregivers look after your children in their home.
- Cost. Family child-care is usually less expensive than child care centers.
- Convenience. Many family child caregivers live locally.
- Parents may prefer the consistency of one caregiver, and children may feel more secure.
- Smaller numbers of children may mean that your child receives more attention.
- More homelike feel with siblings remaining together.
- There is nobody else around to ensure the quality of the care your child receives during the day.
- There may be no backup care if your caregiver is unwell.
- There may be no educational program and more limited resources.
In Home Caregivers
This includes nannies, au pairs, babysitters, and housekeepers who also care for children.
- Parental control. You do the hiring and firing so you are able to choose the caregiver and set the conditions based on the needs of your family.
- Convenience. Your child's caregiver comes to you so you do not need to do the dropping off or picking up, and you can choose the hours you need. If your children are sick, the caregiver usually looks after them anyway.
- In home caregivers may be able to do other things such as light housework or starting dinner while they are caring for your children.
- It may be more expensive if you only have one child.
- You are allowing somebody into your home, and for some parents, trust is an issue. You need to ensure that you check references and credentials very carefully.
Relatives, Friends, and Neighbors
Some families have a relative, friend, or neighbor care for their children.
- Cost. Relatives, friends, and neighbors may be able to care for your children at no cost or charge very little compared to other forms of childcare.
- Convenience. Your child may be cared for outside the hours when childcare centers or family child caregivers are available. This is especially important if you work shifts, start early, or finish late. If your child is sick, your caregiver will usually still be able to care for your child.
- Known caregiver. You personally know the person who is caring for your children and feel that they are safer and happier with them.
Some disadvantages include:
- If you are not paying or pay very little, you may feel that you have less input into how your children are cared for. This can be particularly true if the caregiver is a grandparent.
- If your care provider is sick or otherwise unable to care for your children, you will need to arrange for backup care.
The main thing to remember when choosing a childcare provider is to have a list of what you feel are the most important issues for you and your family and compare how each provider rates on each of them. With the variety of child care available, you are sure to find the perfect fit for your family.