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What Are Day Care Centers? In-Depth Guide (2022)

What are Day Care Centers?

What are day care centers, exactly? Commonly referred to as child care, preschool, or nursery school, day care is known as the care or supervision of children from the ages of 6 weeks to 18 years old. Day cares encompass a broad range of care for children that exist across many different contexts. 

4 Important Developmental Benefits of Day Care Centers

Most often, parents rely on day care centers to care for their children while they work. Day care centers take many forms, each with accompanying benefits and unique ways in which they operate. Despite the diversity of day care facilities, they all share four common benefits: safety, education, socialization, and health. 

1. Safety 

The most important purpose that a day care center serves is safety. While parents are at work, children are supervised by early childhood educators that create safe and nurturing environments. Depending on the state and type of childcare setting, there are regulations in place that establish safety practices, with regular check-ins to ensure adherence. 

With all daily routines, children in child care are supervised by caregivers to ensure safe learning opportunities in a safe environment. This supervision extends to safety in diapering and toileting, how to eat safely, and proper sleeping during nap time, in the classroom, and on the playground. 

Kids’ Care Club, NAEYC accredited Centers, ensure safety through child care licensing regulations and our NAEYC accreditation. This includes hazard-free facilities, materials, and equipment, and the proper staff-to-child ratio to maintain proper active supervision. A further component of safety at Kids’ Care Club is the Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment, which is the guidance that Kids’ Care Club uses in response to the daily decisions that have moral, ethical, and safety implications for our children. 

2. Education

Day care is education and early experiences matter. Studies clearly show that children who attend preschool are more prepared for kindergarten than those who don’t. Before starting kindergarten, there is an ample amount of critical brain development that occurs. Through both structured and unstructured daily activities, children build a foundation of language, cognitive and social-emotional skills that will help them succeed in school and their everyday life. With many children’s lessons presented in the form of fun games and activities as friends, children that attend child care build a love of learning that extends beyond the preschool years to enter Kindergarten with confidence. 

Here at Kids’ Care Club, children from infants to Pre-K are encouraged by our warm, nurturing teachers to come up with their own ideas and to explore them individually and in small groups. The incorporation of natural materials and real-world images helps teach important concepts at developmentally appropriate levels. Kids’ Care Club preschool teachers design activities around the specific needs of students in order to fully support their learning of STEM, literacy, and social-emotional skills. 

We recognize that parents are children’s primary teachers, so KCC staff forge a strong home-school connection by communicating and collaborating with families to extend the learning beyond Kids’ Care Club to make children learners for life. 

3. Socialization

Listening, sharing, and taking turns with others are all invaluable skills that childcare environments can teach children. In a childcare setting, songs, stories, dramatic play, and games are all activities that promote interaction among children. Throughout interactions across these activities, children learn the importance of expressing emotions (happiness, sadness, anger), and how to cope with them. 

Each of our classrooms and activities here at Kids’ Care Club is structured around socialization. We see this through peer-to-peer interactions, small groups and completing collaborative tasks, outdoor play, dramatic play, and NAEYC circle time. All of these different elements forge and develop children’s listening skills and social-emotional learning. 

4. Health

Day care centers must promote healthy habits through meals and behaviors. Day care settings such as center-based child care will have child care licensing regulations on the types of foods and drinks that must be provided for children while attending. In addition to nutrition, day care must provide ample opportunities for physical activity. We typically see this in child care both in the classroom and on playgrounds through song, dance, outdoor play, and structured games. day

Here at Kids’ Care Club, a key standard of excellence of our NAEYC accreditation is health. All NAEYC accredited programs promote healthy behaviors to promote proper physical and mental development. 

preschool wooden letter cubes

5 Most Common Day Care Center Settings  

While it’s clear child care has similarities, each day care center isn’t one size fits all. In fact, the numerous types of settings that all serve children in their own unique way can be overwhelming for parents. For example, at-home care can be beneficial for a child that needs one-on-one care from a caregiver, while a center-based child care facility can provide the socialization that your child needs. Let’s learn more about 5 common day care center options to find which settings best serve your family. 

1. At Home Care 

While at-home care isn’t technically a day care center, it is a common day care option all parents have chosen at one point or another. At-home care is characterized by any type of care where a child is supervised inside their own home. This takes the form of nannies and babysitters and more informal care from friends and family.

Across the board, at-home care involves a high amount of direct interaction with a caregiver. Depending on your child, many parents find that this gives children a close bond with their caregiver that can set them up for Pre-K, kindergarten, and beyond. 

When choosing at-home care, parents must exercise their best judgment in choosing the best caregiver for their child as there are no licensing requirements. To create a safe and stimulating environment that supports their child’s development, many parents opt for nannies or caregivers that can provide care with relevant childcare qualifications. 

While nannying is typically the most expensive option, a household with multiple children can find this an affordable and convenient option. Plus! Many nannies provide assistance with other household chores such as errands, laundry, cooking meals, and cleaning. This childcare option is largely freeform, shaped by the wants and needs of a family. 

Interested in exploring this form of care? Sittercity and Care are common options to explore for finding a carer to satisfy your childcare needs. 

2. Family Day Care Homes

Caregivers that are given in a provider’s home are referred to by various different names. Family child care, licensed child care homes, certified child care homes, the list goes on. The common element between all forms of family child care, however, is that a group of children is being cared for in a residential setting, such as a house, apartment, or condo. Depending on the regulations in the state of the facility, this may be in the home of the caregiver.    

Just like at-home care, this form of child care takes many shapes and sizes. Child care in the provider’s home can be mixed or separated age groups, have a low or relatively high staff-to-child ratio, have flexible hours into the night and on weekends, or keep a more rigid schedule. It all depends on the caregiver and the facility itself. Many parents that need irregular child care, or care on weekends or evenings, elect this type of child care. 

Depending on the state where the child care takes place, family child care may or may not be required to be licensed. Some states require care facilities to be licensed if caring for more than one child unrelated to the caregiver, while other facilities aren’t required to be a licensed facility if there are less than six children in their care. Providers with homes that are licensed are more strictly required to adhere to basic health, safety, and staff-to-child ratio requirements, with ongoing checkups to make sure facilities are adhering to the facility guidelines. Family child care facilities, also, have the option to gain further accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. 

3. Center-Based Child Care 

Center-based child care centers are our favorite! Okay, maybe just because this is what Kids’ Care Club Child Development Centers fall under. Center-Based Child Care facilities are typically commercial centers that are open for set-schedule hours and have a standardized system of care for children, typically in the form of a standard curriculum. Children are grouped by developmental stages under specific staff-to-child ratios that are optimal for their learning. The children in our program here at Kids’ Care Club are divided into Infants, Toddlers, Two-Year-Olds, Preschool, and Transitional Kindergarten (TK).  

Center-Based Child Care can be the best option for parents that work a standard full-time schedule. Depending on one’s state licensing requirements and accreditation, center-based child care classrooms are designed around specific staff-to-child ratios based on the child’s age. Infants (birth – 15 months) can be in a ratio of 1 teacher to 4 children, in a max class size of 8. Preschool age, on the other hand, can be in a ratio of 1 teacher to 10 children, based on the child’s age. 

Many choose center-based child care for the ample socialization and school routine that it provides. By the time they finish pre-k, your child will have a strong understanding of the classroom environment and routine that awaits them in Kindergarten. The wide variety of activities and social situations promote your child’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. 

Here at Kids’ Care Club, children’s development and milestones are noted and communicated to parents through Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) assessments. These are designed for teachers to observe, document, and reflect on the learning, development, and progress of children to report to parents. 

4. Non-Profit Day care 

Non-Profit Day cares are child care services that provide early childhood education services to the community without financial gain. Operationally, non-profit day cares operate very similarly to center-based child care centers in terms of licensing requirements and curriculum style. The major difference between the two is that with a non-profit 501(c)(3) status, non-profit day cares receive a higher number of grants and government funding, and can provide high-quality child care to lower-income communities. Furthermore, nonprofit day cares are governed by a board of directors that is composed of parents. The money that is collected from parents, grants, and funding must all be channeled into the day care itself, as well as the service for children and families. An example of non-profit day care that is commonly seen today is church schools. 

5. School-Age Programs

As children progress past the preschool age, parents rely on school-age programs for day care. School-age programs are day care options that take place before school, after school, on holidays, and during summer break. Many schools contract with local YMCAs or Boys and Girls clubs, while some communities offer this day care through community-based programs and churches. 

little boy playing with number train activity

What about Kids’ Care Club?

Here at Kids’ Care Club,  we pride ourselves on being a child development facility dedicated to providing a learning and nurturing environment that supports the development of each child. With highly qualified staff and a NAEYC accreditation, we support each child through developmentally sound activities that develop each child socially, emotionally, physically, linguistically, and cognitively. We believe that early years are learning years, and we are here to build a love of learning for life.