Sending your child to a day care center or a home-based child care provider has benefits and disadvantages, but children are adaptable and usually thrive in settings where adults genuinely care about them. Before enrolling your child in a program, meet with the staff and tour the home or facilities to get a feel for the environment. You can also ask questions about daily schedules, class size and the type of care provided. Babysitters and nannies also offer child care, but their services are usually provided in your home.
Socialization is a positive skill that your child learns when she attends a child care program. Day care teachers and in-home child care professionals strive to provide an environment that encourages playful, safe and enjoyable interactions between children. Children learn to share, handle conflicts, find resolution, show kindness and apologize for misbehavior. Most child care facilities have a small child-to-adult ratio, so teachers are able to engage students in conversation on a regular basis.
Public and private day care centers are usually required by the state in which they're located to have a sufficient number of trained and qualified staff to supervise children. Infants and toddlers are less self-sufficient than preschoolers, so they require more personnel. In-home child care providers and day care staff often have education and experience in early childhood, so they know how to create age-appropriate activities that encourage development. Child care facilities are decorated and organized for young children, so they can explore arts and crafts, play dress-up, engineer structures with blocks, create make-believe stories and play indoor and outdoor games.
Flexibility and Availability
Even though child care facilities have advantages, many don't have the staff to facilitate every parent's work schedule or child care needs. Day care centers aren't always flexible, and many have specific hours of operation. Parents are expected to drop off and pick up their children on time, regardless of their work demands. Day care centers also have strict guidelines concerning communicable diseases, so sick children aren't allowed to stay and must be sent home. Some day care centers and in-home providers close for the holidays, so parents are expected to find supplemental care during those times of the year. Well-respected home care providers and day care centers often have a waiting list, and availability is limited.
A negative of sending a child to a day care facility or an in-home provider is cost. Costs can be especially high for children with special needs and infants because they require constant care. According to the BabyCenter website, in July 2011, monthly day care costs for babies and toddlers ranged from $380 to $1,564. In-home costs were slightly less, ranging from $300 to $1,000 per month. Care for toddlers was the least expensive, ranging from $315 to $956 a month.