1. Parenting

Child Care Options for Your Kids

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Parents can't be with their kids all the time, but thankfully, numerous quality child care options abound. Many families find their needs are successfully met with daycare, an in-home provider, or an academically-focused preschool. Others elect to employ a nanny or babysitter or ask relatives or friends for childcare assistance. Whatever the option, parents should carefully consider the pros and cons of each type of care in order to make a decision that's right for their child and their family.
  1. Getting Started: Child Care Overview
  2. Daycare Centers
  3. Family Home Providers
  4. Nannies & Au-Pairs (Child Care in Your Home)
  1. Babysitters and Other Occasional Care Options
  2. Before-and-After School Related Care
  3. Camps and Enrichment Child Care
  4. Academic Focused Preschools

Getting Started: Child Care Overview

Photo courtesy of Megan Overman

When seeking an ideal child care solution, start by asking yourself what type of care you really want based on family needs and what you can afford. Here are some snapshots for quick comparisons to get you started.

Daycare Centers

Photo courtesy of Megan Overman

Daycare is perhaps the most common and affordable type of care option. Advantages include convenience, consistent care (if a caregiver is ill, other arrangemnents are made), affordability, and longer operating hours. Disadvantages sometimes include high staff turnover, higher child-to-caregiver ratios than parents may like, and an "institutional feel" at some facilities. Some centers feature highly-trained early childhood professionals with a focus on academics, while others utilize largely unskilled workers for basic care only.

Family Home Providers

Photo by Robin McClure

Kids may feel that there's no place like home, but in-home early childhood providers do their best to create that nurturing and comfortable environment. In-home providers operate a care setting with a much smaller number of kids, and often ages vary within the home. Advantages can include a family environment, home-cooked meals (this may vary by provider), and a calmer setting than may be found in daycare. Disadvantages may include less social interaction with same-age peers, a lack of field trips and limited care hours. Back-up care can be a concern when the caregiver gets sick. Training and rates will vary.

Nannies & Au-Pairs (Child Care in Your Home)

Photo by Robin McClure

If you can afford it, having a professional care provider who is dedicated to watching your children in your own home can be a dream come true for some families. Parents who want the convenience or comfort of having kids cared for in their home (whether while at work or working in-home), often hire a nanny or similar provider who may even receive room and board and remain in the home. Employing a nanny is usually the most expensive care option, and pros and cons may be the same in that people may alternately like and then dislike an additional person in the home during family time.

Babysitters and Other Occasional Care Options

Photo courtesy of Emily Jurica

Whether it's hiring a teenage babysitter, using a drop-in care center, or even relying on family members or friends on occasion, there's a host of considerations to keep in mind to ensure your child is safe and happy while you're away.

Before-and-After School Related Care

Photo by Robin McClure

Just because a youngster enters school doesn't mean that the need for child care ends. Working parents may require before-and-after care options through at least elementary school, and many after-school programs are geared toward middle-school tweens as well. There is also an array of enrichment activities that double as child care, and sometimes even transportation is provided! Friendly neighborhood moms sometimes help out as well.

Camps and Enrichment Child Care

If you send your child to any type of enrichment program or sports camp, you're essentially entrusting the adults in charge to provide quality child care for your kid. While a person may be talented at teaching soccer or a renowned dancer, those traits don't make them necessarily qualified to truly watch after and care for kids. Remember, you want your kids to learn something new, have fun, and most of all, be safe!

Academic Focused Preschools

Photo courtesy of Megan Overman

Whether it is by open registration or involves an assessment of your youngster, some parents opt for early childhood education training for their toddlers that involves a type of academic curriculum and enhanced enrichment skills.

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