Choosing The Perfect Daycare Option For Your Child

Rising costs across the country have many families reexamining childcare options to ensure one or both parents can earn a sufficient income without compromising their child's safety and well-being. Many factors go into determining what arrangement will work for your family's unique needs. We’ve gathered some of the top pros and cons of some popular childcare options to help make the decision a little easier for you. 

Stay-at-home Parent or Family Member

While not always financially feasible, having a child’s own parent or family member with them is filled with undeniable benefits. 

Pros:

  • The child receives additional bonding time with their own parent or family member.
  • Parents are immediately aware of all potential issues with their child.
  • Full control over schedule, activities, curriculum, etc. 
  • No worries about backup care for sick days.

Cons:

  • Loss of potential income for the caregiver. 
  • It can be mentally and emotionally draining for the caregiver. 
  • Must independently find and arrange all activities and learning.
  • It is easy to neglect interaction with other children.

Nanny or Babysitter

This is a great option for families looking for a dedicated caregiver who can give their child the care and attention needed with little to no disruption of your household's usual routine. 

Pros:

  • Personalized attention.
  • Can set flexible times as needed.
  • Relative control over schedule and activities. 
  • Both parents are free to pursue professional goals.
  • This may include additional tasks such as light housekeeping.

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Cons:

  • Little to no formal regulations are required by law.
  • It can be more expensive depending on the caregiver's rates, time needed, and included responsibilities.
  • If a caregiver has a life change and needs to stop working, finding a new caregiver can be a difficult transition for the child. 
  • It may require more direction for expectations. 

In-home Daycares

A happy medium between a babysitter and a daycare center, in-home daycares are an arrangement many families find to be a good fit for their family's needs. 

Pros:

  • Often, a smaller number of total children are being watched, giving more personalized attention to your child.
  • Generally, it is one of the less expensive options. 
  • Often, more flexible arrangements can be made if you need to change pick-up/drop-off times, special snack preferences, particular nap schedules, etc, accommodating your family’s needs more easily.  
  • You are supporting a small business. 

Cons:

  • This option requires backup care for sick days. (In the case of your child being ill or the caregiver themselves being ill.)
  • There are more demands of caregivers with more children, yet fewer resources than a daycare center. 
  • Activities limited to the caregiver’s personal ability, for example, are less likely to include field trips and community activities with limited transportation. 
  • Parents must be cautious in assessing the facility's legal standing to ensure their child’s safety. (And consider that unexpected shut-downs may occur, leaving you without childcare until a new arrangement can be made.)

Daycare Center

A tried and true arrangement, many families enjoy the established structure of a daycare center. 

Pros: 

  • Usually, set routines and expectations of care. 
  • Required background checks can add an additional level of confidence. 
  • Programs and/or curriculums for a wide variety of enrichment and experiences, such as field trips. 
  • Reliable for long-term arrangements, your child can attend the same facility for years as well as siblings, allowing your family to become comfortable and familiar with the staff and facility.  

Cons: 

  • Larger numbers of children give your child less individualized care. 
  • Sickness regulations may cause you to miss work while still paying for care. 
  • More interaction with more children could make it more likely for your child to catch things like illnesses or lice. 
  • Policies may be more rigid to allow for efficiency rather than best accommodating your family’s personal needs. 

How to Find Safe and Effective Childcare

Once you’ve decided what kind of childcare arrangement is the best fit for your family, the task of finding a suitable match begins. 

Word of Mouth:

The recommendation of a friend or loved one is always helpful when looking for something as important as child care. If someone you know has had a good experience with a facility or individual, it can make you feel more confident in trusting that choice yourself. Asking those you know who utilize child care for their thoughts and experience can save you a lot of research or trial and error with arrangements that may seem great on paper but are sustainable in practice. 

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Community Groups/Forums:

If your pool of people with childcare experience is limited, you can expand your outreach by posting on a community group or forum, such as a local parenting Facebook group or your neighborhood’s Nextdoor app. Getting recommendations and feedback from “real” people in the actual area where you are searching can help you narrow down your options to the cream of the crop. 

Care.com:

For the ultimate directory of child care options, Care.com provides users with a wealth of available choices sorted by all kinds of factors, such as care type, location, experience, and price. Care.com also takes care of pre-requiring a basic background check from providers before you even begin the interviewing process. Background checks can be an expensive and time-consuming hoop to jump through independently, so this is a valuable and reassuring resource. Coupled with real reviews from local families, it truly is the best of all options and is sure to give you all the information you could ever need and more when finding the perfect childcare arrangement for your child. 

 

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