Selecting the right type of child care or the best child care provider for your little one is a big decision for any parent. Not only does it give you peace of mind, but it can have a major impact on their early development and well-being. At Early Advantage, we know there are many options available to parents. We also know just how challenging it can be to find the right care for your child.
In this article, we discuss the different options, their pros and cons, as well as provide insight to help you be confident in whatever option you choose. After all, whether you’re selecting a home-based babysitter, group daycare, or a facility like ours, doing your research is an important step to make certain your child is going to be well cared for.
Home-Based Child Care Options
Home-based child care, also referred to as in-home child care, is an option for parents seeking a personalized approach to their child’s upbringing within the confines of their own residence or someone else’s home. In this instance, some parents may hire a nanny who can offer their services in the family home or while others may choose an in-home daycare setting where one caregiver watches a small group of children.
Advantages of Home-Based Child Care
- Personalized Attention: A nanny, au pair, or even a grandparent can offer an individualized approach, enabling them to cater to a child’s unique needs and preferences.
- Familiar Environment: With some home-based care, children are able to remain in their own residence, which fosters a sense of comfort and security.
- Flexible Schedules: Home-based child care can also provide flexibility in terms of hours and schedules, thus accommodating the diverse needs of working parents who may find a sudden change due to a meeting or a personal conflict.
- Children of all Ages: For child care offered in someone else’s home, at any given time, the caregiver may have a number of children of different age groups in their care. For those with an infant, in this instance, this means the baby may have exposure to a few older children, which may help them developmentally.
Disadvantages of Home-Based Child Care
- Dependency on One Caregiver: Unfortunately, in this circumstance, if the caregiver faces unexpected circumstances, such as illness or unforeseen time off, finding a swift replacement may prove to be challenging and can also disrupt the child’s (and the parents’) routine.
- Less Oversight: Home-based care can undergo less oversight compared to licensed daycare centers. This means parents should conduct comprehensive background checks and ensure compliance with safety standards, childcare licensing, and other concerns they may have.
- Limited Resources: In-home childcare options may possess fewer resources and educational materials than larger facilities, which can have an influence on the variety of activities and learning experiences available to your child.
- Ages of Children Vary: Some parents may be uncomfortable with a baby being in a home with children of different ages. Unlike Early Advantage, where children are grouped by age, such as a dedicated room for infants, caregivers in home-based settings work with children across age groups, meaning individualized care may vary.
As you conduct your childcare search or consider family childcare, you’ll want to ask a few things:
What is the child-to-caregiver ratio? At Early Advantage, we provide ample staff members to ensure a higher teacher-to-child ratio, resulting in more individualized attention for each child. Some in-home care options may not provide a strict teacher-to-child ratio and may be considered more like group child care.
Are there structured activities? Centers, like Early Advantage, typically offer regular structure as well as a variety of educational and developmental activities for babies, toddlers, and children ages 3-5 when compared to in-home facilities and offerings.
Will the caregiver be able to fulfill all of the childcare duties you expect? If you have a particular list of things you want your child to experience each day (tummy time for babies, structured activities, or adventures to a park), you’ll want to ensure they’re willing to check all those boxes.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions about their licensures – do they have a degree in early childhood education? Are they certified in first aid? One of the many perks of choosing a facility like Early Advantage is that educators are typically licensed and regulated by the state, giving an added sense of security and professionalism to parents.
School-Based Child Care
Unlike in-home daycare, school-based child care is situated within an educational institution and can also offer a structured and supportive environment for children while their parents are at work or unavailable. An important note about these types of programs is they are typically focused on the education of young children, particularly those preschool ages and up, and parents may still need to consider a backup option for gaps in care that can come with seasonality.
Advantages of School-Based Child Care
- Educational Integration: School-based child care can integrate with the educational setting, allowing children to transition seamlessly from one stage of learning to the next (think of preschool programs transitioning students to kindergarten.)
- Structured Activities: Like a daycare center, these types of programs can include structured activities that support academic and social development, creating a well-rounded experience for children.
- Convenience: For parents with elementary school-aged children, school-based child care can offer the convenience of a single location for education and child care services.
Disadvantages of School-Based Child Care
- Limited Hours: Unlike the other two options, school-based care may have limited operating hours, which can pose challenges for parents with hectic work schedules.
- Seasonal Availability: Unfortunately, these programs can also come with seasonal availability, meaning they may only operate during the school year or when school is in session. For the working parent, this can lead to potential gaps in care not only during school holidays but also during breaks.
- Age Restrictions: For these programs, there’s a limitation on age. That means if you need care for infants and or toddlers, you’ll likely need to make alternative arrangements for them.
For those looking to choose quality child care, especially those who have children under the age of five, it’s important to choose a facility that offers flexibility and understanding. For example, at Early Advantage, for parents who need flexible hours, we offer drop-in child care. For those who have multiple children under the age of 5, we offer one facility for all. That means your child can go from infant to toddler room, Preschool classroom to pre-K class,and because we offer care across the age continuum, your child is given the ability to transition seamlessly from one step to the next.
Ultimately, the decision to enroll a little one in a childcare program versus a school-based program comes down to the individual needs and preferences of the parent as well as the child.
Private Child Care Centers
Finally, there are private childcare centers, which are operated independently or by organizations. Early Advantage falls into this category. Private child care centers are typically staffed by trained professionals and often offer a range of programs to cater to the diverse needs of families.
At Early Advantage, we strive to provide a structured and professional care setting to ensure the best for your child. For example, we strive to offer and meet specific health and safety requirements such as:
- A secure front entrance with individual codes for each family.
- Staff trained in Shaken Baby, SIDS, CPR, and First Aid.
- Background Checks are completed for all employees.
- Annual inspection from the state health department.
- Annual fire safety inspections.
- Monthly fire and tornado drills.
Advantages of Private Child Care Centers
- Licensed Child Care: Private child care centers often employ trained and certified staff members, ensuring children receive quality care and education from experienced professionals.
- Structured Curriculum: Many centers implement a structured curriculum that aligns with early childhood development milestones, fostering cognitive, social, and emotional growth in children.
- Socialization Opportunities: Private childcare centers often facilitate social interaction among children, helping them develop essential social skills and friendships in a group setting.
- Health and Safety Standards: Private centers typically adhere to rigorous safety standards, providing a secure and monitored environment for children.
Disadvantages of Private Child Care Centers:
- Cost: Private childcare centers can cost more compared to the options listed above. This may pose a financial challenge for some families.
- Limited Flexibility: Some centers may have specific operating hours, limiting flexibility for parents with irregular work schedules or those in need of extended care options.
- Waiting Lists: Many popular facilities may have waiting lists, making it challenging for parents to secure immediate placement for their child.
Private child care centers can offer a professional and structured environment for a child’s care and education. While they come with advantages such as trained staff, structured curricula, and socialization opportunities, there can also be challenges such as cost and waiting lists.
The Early Advantage Difference
As you work to find care for your child or children, doing your research offers insight into what best suits the needs of you and your family. At Early Advantage, we strive to take the guessing out of your journey to finding child care. We believe in offering the best opportunities, education, and overall care for children. Unlike what other facilities may offer, parents can rest assured that their children are in good hands when they choose Early Advantage.
We group children by age, which means students are cared for in groups of peers where children may express themselves, develop fine motor skills, receive regular meals and snacks, and flourish as they learn. This means parents looking to put a baby in daycare can rest assured their infant is in a room dedicated to their care while other dedicated staff members work to educate older children.
We know as a parent, you want to choose the best type of care available to you, whether this means finding a family childcare option where children receive one-on-one care to ensure they’re meeting developmental milestones or a private day care facility where daycare workers strive to ensure your child is being well cared for. The important thing to remember is everyone’s childcare search is different.
Wherever you’re at in your journey, we’re here to help! Contact us today to take a tour of our facility and to learn more about the information and resources available to Early Advantage parents.