A day care provider acts as a caregiver to children whose parents are working, need extra child care support, or wish for their children to develop social skills by interacting with other young people. The primary role of a day care provider is giving care rather than implementing a formal educational curriculum, although many of the activities they engage their clients in may have educational value. There are three principal types of day care providers: those who work for a single family, those who provide care to one or more children from their own homes, and those who work in a day care center.
Some day care providers work for a single family. Often called a nanny, this type of day care employee provides a range of custodial and domestic services to the child or children with whom she works. She may change diapers, attend to feedings, and take her charges for walks. In the case of older children, she may help with homework, arrange outings, provide transportation to and from school and extracurricular activities, and prepare meals. A nanny may be provided with room and board at the home in which she works or she may travel to work each day.
The second type of day care provider attends to one or more children in her own home, which has been suitably adapted to child needs and safety. She may provide all-day care to infants and very young children, morning and evening care to school-age clients, or a mixture of both. During the time that her clients are in her care, she usually attends to needs like meals, diaper changes, and naptime, addresses conflict, and introduces play activities. Her clients are usually dropped off at her house and later picked up by a parent or other authorized adult. Some states require this type of day care provider to be licensed and limit the number of children she can supervise without hiring additional help.
Another type of day care provider works in a day care center. As with care given in the provider’s home, these centers may provide before- and after-school supervision as well as all-day care to very young children. Day care centers may take in large numbers of clients, and those employed by a center often work as part of a team of carers. They attend to the physical and emotional needs of each client, prevent conflict and address improper behavior, and organize fun and sometimes educational activities. Employees of government-funded day care centers are often required to have some formal child care training, which can include courses in education and child development or completion of a certification program.