So you need child care for your little one.
What are your choices?
What are the Pros and Cons with each?
This guide will answer some of your questions.
Child Care Centers, Family Child Care Centers, Nannies.
Child Care Centers
this includes preschools and Head Start programs.
There are regulations regarding ratios, meals and activities.
Staff is usually checked by a State Licensing agency.
Multiple staff members provide oversight and emergency coverage.
Group activities and field trips for school-age children during school breaks.
Ratios are actually quite high.
In California the ratios are:
0-18 months 4:1
18 months -3 years 6:1
3 years - 4 years 12:1
5 years and older 14:1
Not all staff are good caregivers. This video is about a preschool teacher caught verbally abusing her class of 4-year olds.
A child will have multiple caregivers as he moves to other classrooms and staff changes.
In a daycare setting, the child is expected to keep up with developmental milestones to stay with their age groups. A one-year old needs to be walking to go into the toddler room, and a child in the 2-year old classroom cannot have a bottle. A 4-year old who still needs a diaper at naptime would be stuck in the 3-year old classroom.
A daycare is not always willing or able to accept special requests. They frequently will not give breast milk bottles or use cloth diapers. Children who do not nap or who nap at odd times may have a hard time adjusting to the school's schedule.
Daycares may not accept children with behavioral or developmental problems.
Family Child Care Homes
This refers to licensed child care homes that are run by individuals.
In California the home is licensed by the Department of Social Services. This includes a background check of all adults in the home, a physical inspection of the home and mandatory training.
Ratios are low
6 children total, only 3 of which can be under 2 years old.
Family childcare offers flexible hours and more personalized care. Each caregiver sets their own policies but most are willing to accomodate nursing mothers, cloth diapers, special diets and schedules.
Since there are no separate age groups there is no pressure to hit developmental milestones and siblings can stay together.
The small group setting is less intimidating for shy children.
A child may have a single caregiver throughout their childhood.
Oversight and inspections are erratic.
Not all in-home caregivers are nice either.
Activity level and training vary widely. Do your due diligence.
You are relying on one person for your care. You may need a back-up in case of an emergency.
This refers to individuals you have come into your home to care for your children.
Can be the most cost effective for a large family.
Will fit your schedule.
You may get some light housekeeping done as part of the arrangement.
All of the cons of a Family Child care plus the background check and training are your responsibility so check carefully.
Part 2 will cover your rights as a parent and some warning signs to look for.
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