An Overview of Child Care Options

If you have decided to go back to work, and have ruled out the option of staying at home, you may be considering the various childcare options that are available to you and your children. As new parents, choosing the child care option that is best suited to your family's needs can take some time and consideration. By taking account of your financial situation, along with the benefits of certain childcare options, you can provide your children with the environment that you feel is best suited to early child development.

Day Care

One of the most popular childcare options available is the daycare center. One benefit of a day care is that it must be licensed and government regulated. This means that day care centers must undergo frequent health and safety inspections, and that staff members must also be trained in Early Childhood Education.

A daycare center provides a structured environment in which your child can socialize with other children. Day care centers provide group environments of 12 children or more, while following minimal legal criteria of child to caregiver ratio.

While it is more affordable than a private nanny, day care is still considered one of the more expensive child care options. Costs range from $250 to $1,250 a month, with higher fees for infant care. You may also want to consider a Preschool center, which is in the same price range as a daycare center, but can provide your child with a head start on early education.

Home and Family Day Care

The home daycare (also known as family daycare) is another type of childcare center. It differs from a daycare center in that groups of children are cared for in the caregiver's home. This provides your child with an opportunity to interact with other children in a more nurturing, comfortable, and home-like environment. Family daycares may also have more flexible pickup and drop-off hours.

One of the disadvantages of home daycare is that you may need to make other arrangements if a caregiver is ill. Family daycares are also less regulated, and may or may not be licensed. If your caregiver is licensed, it means they are trained in early child development as well as health, safety, and nutrition education.

Home daycare is also a less expensive option than the day care center. In most cases, parents will pay $700 a month for infant childcare, and approximately $500 for toddlers.

In-Home Child Care

In-home care can give parents more control and flexibility over the childcare provided. The most common options for in-home childcare are nanny or au pair services and relative care.

The greatest benefit of hiring a nanny is that they can provide your child with personalized attention in the convenient and familiar surroundings of your home. Playtime arrangements may also be made with other nannies to give your child a chance to socialize.

Like family daycare services, you may need to make alternate arrangements if your nanny is ill or decides to leave. Nanny care is the most expensive childcare option, averaging between $300-$600 a week.

Relative Care

Many people opt for relative care to provide their children with personalized attention in comfortable home surroundings. A family member may be available to care for your child and will also have a personal interest in their development. Playtime arrangements will have to be made to allow your child to socialize.

You may find it difficult to establish a working relationship with a family member, and this may prevent your child from getting the type of care you are looking for. Older relatives may also find it difficult to handle an active toddler.

In many cases, relatives will offer to care for your child and refuse any payment. If you do pay a relative, you should aim to provide them with minimum wage or higher. You may also arrange to provide your own services in exchange for theirs, or else give the occasional gift to show your appreciation.

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