Finding the best childcare provider for your children is a daunting task that most families will face, especially if the family depends on two incomes to keep their bills paid. It’s important to know your options when selecting a childcare setting and it is best to try to fit those options with the needs of your family.
Options to consider:
- Childcare Centers: These are professionally run operations that provide trained staff, a more structured environment and a group setting with multiple children of the same age and multiple care providers.
- Home-based Family Care Centers: Your child is welcomed into someone’s home and may meet other children of varying ages. This situation may feel more comfortable and home-like to your child. Family care centers are usually run by a mother with children of her own, who brings your child into her family environment. Care givers may or may not have the same level of training as providers in professional childcare centers, but they are usually less expensive and are able to provide closer supervision. The downside is that when the provider gets sick or takes a vacation, it could become an inconvenience since there is rarely a backup person available.
- In-Home Care: The childcare provider comes into your home and looks after your child. This option can be much more expensive, but it insures more one-on-one interaction with your child and gives you more control over the care your child receives.
- Preschools: Your child is placed in a group setting with other children of similar age and takes part in planned activities. Preschools are usually for slightly older children, age two and above, are part-day and usually not year-round and have a greater emphasis on education and the child ready for first grade.
- Babysitting Coops: Groups of parents organize to provide childcare for one another. Coops can be formal or informal and generally offer lower-cost solutions. Typically the coops cannot offer full-time care but are a good option for part-time childcare needs.
- Family Care: A family member, like a grandparent or aunt, helps take care of your child. This might be a great low-cost way to care for your child and it can help strengthen the bond between the family member and child. However, this can also cause strained relations and hurt feelings if you and the family member have wildly different parenting styles, unclear expectations, or they refuse to support and adhere to your parenting guidelines.