Choosing child care is an important part of family life, and it can be one of the most challenging decisions you make as a parent. But the right child care can improve your child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as their health.
The first priority is to find a safe, reliable, and affordable childcare option that fits your family’s needs. That means taking into account your work and home schedule, your budget, and the childcare options in your neighborhood.
There are many options for child care, including licensed centers, in-home daycares, and preschool programs. Each offers different features and benefits to meet a wide range of needs.
Centers and In-Home Daycares
Child care providers who provide services at licensed, regulated centers (daycares) or in-home daycares (nannies and family daycares) must meet strict guidelines for licensing, training, and oversight. This includes background checks, drug testing, and reference verifications. The requirements can vary widely depending on the type of care the center provides and the size of the operation.
You may also be required to attend a face-to-face orientation session before you are licensed. This is the best way to learn about the state regulations for starting a child care business and to receive tips for running a successful program.
This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a more personalized, private care environment for your child. In-home daycares offer a lower adult-to-child ratio, typically have more flexibility with hours of operation, and are often available for evening and weekend care.
In-Home Daycares are staffed by certified nannies and provide care for children in a home environment. The care is typically for a small group of children, and the cost can be lower on average than in a center-based setting.
Another option is to hire a long-term caregiver, such as an au pair. These are often 18- to 26-year-olds from overseas who come to the United States and commit to working for a year with a specific salary, time off, and working hours that are regulated by the Department of State.
The long-term caregiver is a great way to provide consistent care for your child while you’re at work. But you should be sure to check the state regulations for au pairs and ensure you have a legal cultural exchange visa for your au pair.
Preschool and School-Age Programs
Preschool and school-age programs offer care during the morning, afternoon and early evening hours for children ages 3 to 5 years old. These programs can be offered by schools, churches, and community organizations.
These types of programs can be found in residential and non-residential buildings, and offer child care for younger and older children alike. The programs are supervised by a director and may have several staff members.