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What is Child Care: In-Depth Guide (2022)

An Overview of Child Care

What is child care, exactly? While a simple question, the numerous child care options available lead most families to this question at some point. The most common types of child care are preschool facilities, home daycare, nannies, babysitters, and public school options. Depending on your family’s individual needs and lifestyle, one type of child care may integrate into your life better than another. Above all else, we know that your priority as a parent is to find a quality child care provider. 

When Should You Find Child Care? 

The timeline for when parents seek out child care is entirely personal. The majority of parents seek child care when parental leave comes to a close. In the United States, parental leave is regulated by US labor law, which requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents. Many families opt for child care earlier than these 12 weeks and seek out the child care option that serves them best. Other influences are a partner’s ability to take leave, additional financial responsibilities, or other childcare options that may be around, such as family members. Here at Kids’ Care Club, we offer child care services from six weeks in our Infant Class to five years old in our Pre-K class

We recommend considering childcare options sooner than later. Keep in mind that preschool facilities have the longest lead time, as there is a cap on the number of infants or preschoolers that they can accept at a given time. Many high-quality child care facilities have waiting lists. 

When is a Good Time for Your Baby to Start Child Care? 

Each baby is different and is able to adapt well to a given environment with the right approach. There are different developmental hurdles that make it hard based on their stage of childhood development. Above all else, it’s important to help your child get used to a new caregiver, whether that’s in your home, their home, or at a daycare center. At Kids’ Care Club, we schedule a time for your child to meet their teacher, and gradually increase the frequency of visits until your child is fine on their own. 

Your child is transitioning to a routine, but so are you. Throughout the day, our teachers will send you updates on your child through Learning Genie, an app that allows for real-time updates and instant messaging as well as pictures and even short videos. Take comfort in knowing that your child is in an environment that enriches their development socially, emotionally, physically, linguistically, and cognitively. 

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5 Questions to Ask to find Child Care Situation that’s Right for You 

You’re taking steps towards finding the childcare setting that’s best for you. But where do you start? These questions can help guide you in your decision-making.

1. Full Time or Part Time? Traditional hours or work into the night?  

Do all caretakers of your child work full-time or part-time? Does your family work traditional hours, or do you need a caregiver to care for your child early in the day, late in the day, or on weekends? Working traditional full-time hours makes childcare facilities the best option for you, while the sporadic need for childcare may want you to opt for a nanny.

2. Consistent days when you need care? 

Are your child care needs consistent from week to week, or is your schedule on a changing basis? Do you need care on some early mornings, some later evenings, or even weekends? Or does a consistent daily schedule cover your bases? Some childcare options, such as nannies, are more flexible and accommodating to unpredictable schedules, while others, such as center-based early childhood education facilities, have rigid hours, but can cover 9-5 jobs with consistency.

3. What’s your budget? 

Cost is a large deciding factor for the child care situation that’s right for you. The amount of child care costs varies widely based on the type of care, the location of the facility, your child’s age, and nanny costs. A full-time nanny, for example, can be much more costly than placing a child in an in-home care facility.  

4. How old is the child? 

How old is your child? What kind of environments are they comfortable in? An infant, for example, can thrive in a childcare facility as long as they receive attention, affection, playful interaction with caregivers, and rich language experiences. A NAEYC accredited center can ensure your child is placed in a classroom with a staff-to-child ratio that guarantees quality care dedicated to a baby’s needs. Continuity of care is crucial for ages below 5 so that children can develop trust in their caretakers. 

5. Does your child have any conditions or needs that require a smaller childcare environment? 

What are the needs of your child, and what child care setting would best serve those? Preschool facilities provide excellent opportunities for children to interact with others with a wide selection of activities but don’t have the one-on-one care that a nanny may provide. If your child has any specific conditions that would benefit from smaller childcare providers, an in-home care facility may suit them better. Families that opt for a child care option with more one-on-one time can always create more opportunities for socialization through play dates, though it may require more effort on their end. 

5 Types of Care 

Child care providers are individuals that care for and supervise children from age 6 weeks and up. Each child care provider is uniquely qualified for the job, with a shared love for children. They vary based on your child’s age, family’s needs, and the location of care. 

1. Child Care Facilities

A child care facility most often groups children by age, is of larger size and is managed by a dedicated director and staff members. These types of facilities are owned privately, in a chain, or operate as part of a church or non-profit. 

This type of child care has a classroom-like environment where children are grouped together by similar age with developmentally appropriate activities. Child care facilities typically have the highest amount of regulations for health and safety standards.

2. Family Child Care Homes

Family child care homes typically take place in a residential setting. The home-like environment often has fewer children at one time, with more flexibility in regards to hours in comparison to other types of care. When selecting this type of care, be sure to ask the provider about their staff-to-child ratios, as well as the program’s licensing requirements. Oftentimes, family child care homes are not required to follow the same health and safety requirements as child care facilities. 

3. Preschool Programs

Preschool programs are created to serve children ages 3-5 years old and can be offered through public or private schools, faith-based organizations, non-profit organizations, and child care centers. This type of program focuses on school readiness. The amount of coverage is entirely dependent on the program, with some providing full-day, year-round schedules, and some not. 

4. Nanny and Babysitter

Nannies are typically employed by a family on a live-in or live-out basis, and provide regular care at the family’s home for one or more children. Many opt for a nanny share, where two or more unrelated children are cared for in one of the family’s homes. 

A babysitter is ideal for families in need of sporadic, irregular child care. These care providers are responsible for the safety and well-being of the children in accordance with the family’s standards. 

5. School-Age Programs 

As your child progresses into school, there are programs that provide child care before school, after school, on holidays, and during summer break. The variety of programs is entirely dependent on one’s community. Some schools contract with a local YMCA or Boys and Girls club, while some communities offer this service through community-based programs and churches. 

What type of Child Care is Kids’ Care Club? 

Kids’ Care Club is a family-owned, NAEYC-accredited early childhood education facility that prides itself on providing a high quality of care to children in a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment. Kids’ Care Club provides an academic curriculum that best aligns with your child’s current stage of development to promote social skills and school readiness across their Infants, Toddlers, Two-Year-Olds, Preschool, and Pre-K classrooms. Kids’ Care Club is proud to be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children by setting the highest professional standards across the various developmental domains of your child.