Parents today have a wealth of child care options available to them. While there are certainly advantages to numbers in options, this can also present quite a quandary when it comes to choosing the day care option that is right for you and your child. Comparing the various child care options available can help you to narrow down the choices and arrive at a suitable decision.
There are numerous factors that must be considered when choosing among the different child care options. These factors include lifestyle, the needs of your family, budget, and geographic area. To assist in making a decision, first consider the following needs prior to comparing the various options. Do you need part-time or full-time child care? Will you need childcare early in the mornings, late in the evenings or on the weekends? If you need part-time child care, will the days on which you need care remain the same or will you need flexible child care?
Also, consider your budget for child care. This is a practical step that may help greatly in comparing the various options. For instance, a nanny or au pair is certainly going to be more expensive than a local day care center. Some types of day care centers, such as a Montessori school also charge more per week.
Consider the age of your child as well and your own comfort level in placing him or her in a specific type of child care setting at their current age. You should also consider the fact that day care centers typically will not accept any children under the age of six weeks, and some centers will only take children at least eight weeks of age. In addition, some parents find they simply prefer a different care setting for their infant than they do for an older child.
You should also take any special needs your child may have into consideration. Will they be more suited in a child care setting that is smaller and more intimate such as an in-home care situation or will they thrive better in a classroom setting whether there is more interaction and more activities? As a parent, you know your child’s needs and personality best and are in the best place to determine the setting in which they can grow and thrive.
Given the factors listed above, there are several options available for day care. One is an in-home provider. This is typically in the home of the provider, but may also take place in the parents’ home as well. The level of experience and care you can expect can vary greatly. You should bear in mind that an in-home provider may or may not be accredited or licensed. While this option can offer a family-style setting and be less expensive than other options, it is important to check experience.
Some families opt to hire a caregiver to care for their child in their home. This is typically the most expensive option. Variations of this child care arrangement include nannies and au pairs. A daytime sitter who is only present during the day while parents are working can be an appealing and more affordable option, but it is best to keep in mind that the caregiver may not have the experience and training one would expected for a licensed care center.
In some situations, families may opt to have a family member care for their child. This can be particularly appropriate when the child has a close bond to that family member, such as a grandparent. This option does offer cost savings in most cases, as well as convenience, but there are drawbacks. For instance, if the family member becomes ill or has an emergency, you may find yourself in need of backup child care at the last minute. You should also consider the fact that the relative may not be certified in CPR and first-aid the same way that a professional child care provider will be.
Another option that many parents choose is a day care center. The primary reasons most parents ultimately opt for a day care center is that it offers reliability, affordability and convenience. One of the great advantages of this option is that children are allowed the opportunity to socialize with peers, which can be an important part of child development. In addition, parents do not have to be worried about back-up care in the event their child care provider is not available. Many day care centers today even offer educational programs and curriculum.