Family childcare

Family childcare providers, sometimes known as home care providers, generally care for children in their own homes, sometimes while also taking care of their own children.

Here are a few advantages of a family child-care environment:

  • Homey atmosphere: Because children are generally cared for in a provider’s own home, some parents feel that it is more comfortable, familial and familiar for their children than a daycare center would be.
  • Cost: Because a family child-care provider may care for several children, she may charge less than a nanny who comes to a child’s home to take care of only one child, or daycare centers with higher fees.
  • Social interaction: In a setting like this, your child may enjoy social interaction with other children, whether of different ages or his or her own age, ideally in a warm, nurturing environment. And because family child-care groups are often small, parents like the idea that their child won’t be lost in a sea of children.
  • Convenience, flexibility: Parents may also choose a family child-care provider who is close to home. This may be more convenient than taking a child to a daycare facility that may be farther away. Family child-care providers may also give parents more leeway as to drop-off and pick-up times, and may be closed for fewer holidays than daycare centers.
  • Strong child-caregiver, child-child bonds: Because a family care provider may be caring for only a few children, perhaps including her own, she may form a strong bond with the children under her care. Child turnover may also be low in these environments, leading to friendships forged between children that may grow and endure.
  • The mom factor: Some parents like the feeling of having another mother care for their children. After all, being a mother brings a certain amount of real-world experience and expertise that formal training can’t offer.

Here are a few disadvantages:

  • Lack of formal child-care training: Family child-care providers may not have received the same training or have the same educational background or certification in early childcare development as professional daycare providers may have. She may not be able to fill you in on where your child should be developmentally or alert you to developmental issues or concerns, as a larger childcare center might. It is worth noting, however, that some family child-care providers do make a point of getting special training.
  • Lack of licensing and state oversight: Though some states require family child-care providers to take courses in basic health, care and safety, and some require them to be licensed, other states do not. Some parents feel uneasy about the lack of formal oversight and structure.
  • No backup in case of illness or vacation: What happens when your child’s family care provider gets sick – or a member of her family gets sick? What happens if she goes on vacation? Because there may not be a built-in backup caregiver, as there would be at a daycare center with a larger staff, you may need to scramble for backup care for your child or take a day off of work to care for your child yourself.

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