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What Should I Consider When Choosing Child Care?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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When choosing child care, there are many different options available. Not all of these are good choices for every family. You should first consider all of your available options before choosing the one that is the best for your family. The physical safety as well as the emotional well being of your children should guide you in your choice of appropriate child care.

Licensed day care centers in which parents drop off children before work and pick them up on the way home are popular. An advantage of this kind of child care is that in order to keep their license, the day care must maintain quality standards set by a government agency. An up-to-date license should be displayed clearly on a wall in a child day care center. If you’re unsure about a licensed day care, call your government child care agency to find out if that particular day care is in good standing.

Many parents appreciate the organized activities such as crafts, music and sports games found at licensed group child day cares. Licensed child care providers must provide supervision for the children at all times. One drawback is that licensed group day care is usually more expensive that unlicensed family care.

Unlicensed family care usually consists of a mom who, in addition to looking after her own children, also watches another child or two in her home. If you have a trusted friend with children and like her parenting style, this may be a good child care option to consider. The advantage in this type of care is that it’s done in a natural family setting. Children close in age can interact socially and play together. A disadvantage in many unlicensed family care options is the lack of adult interaction and organized activities.

For families with an extra room or basement suite for a nanny's quarters, a live-in nanny is often the preferred child care option. The children are cared for in their own home by the live-in caregiver who, in many cases, becomes a part of the family. The room and board also pays most of the nanny’s salary so that may be another advantage for families. Live-in child care providers may also be responsible for housekeeping and cooking duties, but these require extra pay. It’s best to look for an experienced nanny who loves children and will fit in well with your family’s values and lifestyle.

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Discussion Comments

By PelesTears — On Aug 02, 2011

@pelesTears- Licensing fees and types of licenses and permits vary from state to state. The types of permits also vary within states. The type of permit you need depends on the type of center you are trying to open.

In Colorado, you will need a different type of permit for a family childcare home than you will for a foster care home and a specialized group care facility. You will also need to submit to a background check and fingerprint clearance, something common between most states.

In some cases, you will also need a permanent permit as well as a license that is renewed. You will also likely face fire and health inspections, meet required zoning codes, or need a provisional or probationary license. Finally, you may need things like CPR certification and domestic abuse training. My wife has a child care job, and she says that the requirements for day cares are numerous because they are responsible for children.

By ValleyFiah — On Aug 02, 2011

What kind of licensing do I need to open a home childcare center? Does it vary state by state?. I live in Colorado, and I was thinking it might be nice to open a childcare center. What kind of permitting, licensing, and certification do I need? I appreciate any responses.

By parmnparsley — On Jul 25, 2011

I personally believe that day care centers and preschools are very important in a child's development. I used to live in a rural town, and many of the day care centers did little for a child's development. They were mostly glorified baby sitter programs where someone opened their home to ten or twelve children. The children were often left to watch television, play with cheap plastic toys, and eat unhealthy snacks. My fiancée’s little brother went to one of these centers and the result was subpar.

Before we had our child, we moved to a big city and we were amazed at the difference in approach to child care. The centers we have looked at out here have a little more structure based on early childhood development. Many of the child care services are accredited by the NAEYC, meaning that they meet certain child development standards.

The centers that focus on child development prepare children to enter preschool, and help them become successful by the time they enter kindergarten. The good centers in my city have indoor and outdoor time, sensory activities, and activities that focus on speech, math, and science. These centers still teach through play, but the play is guided towards development.

By submariner — On Jul 25, 2011

What role should a childcare center play in my child's development? I am a first time parent, and I want to find the best childcare facility for my daughter. The city I live in has about fifty or so listed childcare services within a five-mile radius of my work. I am a little overwhelmed with making a decision on what center to enroll her.

Can anyone give me any tips for finding a good childcare center? What kind of things should I look for, and what kind of things would give me clues a center is not so good? My city has everything from corporate childcare centers to mother-run home day cares.

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