Child care

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Child care (or "childcare", "child minding", "daycare", or "preschool") is the caring for and supervision of a child or children, usually from age six weeks to age thirteen. Child care is the action or skill of looking after children by a day-care centre, babysitter, or other providers. Child care is a broad topic covering a wide spectrum of contexts, activities, social and cultural conventions, and institutions. The majority of child care institutions that are available require that child care providers have extensive training in first aid and are CPR certified. In addition, background checks, drug testing, and reference verification are normally a requirement. Child care can cost up to $15,000 for one year in the United States. The average annual cost of full-time care for an infant in center-based care ranges from $4,863 in Mississippi to $16,430 in Massachusetts. [1] Approximately six out of every ten children, or almost 12 million children, age five and younger, are being jointly cared for by parents and early childhood educators, relatives, or other child-care providers.[2]

Common types[edit]

Western society[edit]

It is traditional in Western society for children to be taken care of by their parents or their legal guardians. In families where children live with one or both of their parents, the childcare role may also be taken on by the child's extended family. If a parent or extended family is unable to care for the children, orphanages and foster homes are a way of providing for children's care, housing, and schooling.

The two main types of child care options for employed parents needing childcare are centre-based care (including creches, daycare, and preschools) and home-based care (also known as nanny or family daycare). As well as these licensed option's parents may also choose to find their own caregiver or arrange childcare exchanges/swaps with another family.[3]

Licensed Home Day Care[edit]

Licensed home day care is a home that is licensed to provide child care in a persons home. Home day care does not have to be a relative or friend of a parent. Most Home day cares are ran by a person who has children and choose to be home with their child. Home day cares are small in size and provide families the same attributes as a Day Care Center. Home day care sizes are based on the size of a persons home. Home day cares go through the same process as a center when it comes to background checks and references. Some parents say that Home Day care is safer than centers because the fewer kids the fewer germs.

Family child care[edit]

In home care is known as family child care it typically is provided by nannies, au pairs, or friends and family. The child is watched inside their own home or the caregiver's home, reducing exposure to outside children and illnesses. Depending on the number of children in the home, the children utilizing in-home care enjoy the greatest amount of interaction with their caregiver, forming a close bond. There are no required licensing or background checks for in-home care, making parental vigilance essential in choosing an appropriate caregiver. Nanny and au pair services provide certified caregivers and the cost of in-home care is the highest of childcare options per child, though a household with many children may find this the most convenient and affordable option. Many nannies study towards childcare qualifications. This means they are trained to create a safe and stimulating environment for your child to enjoy and thrive in. Typically, au pairs or nannies provide more than routine child care, often assisting with daily household activities, including running errands, shopping, doing laundry, fixing meals, and cleaning house.

At the same time, a nanny or au pair is not always the best methods of childcare. Nannycare is the most expensive form of childcare. Recruiting a nanny can be costly when using a Nanny agency. Weekly salaries for nannies are 2 to 3 times the cost of a week of daycare.[4] It confines the child into a world of their own. It keeps them from interacting with other children a lot of the time. As mentioned the caregivers do not need licenses or background checks so there is no way of telling if a person is really qualified or has a criminal background (unless you live in a country where there is an option of obtaining home-based care through a government licensed and funded agency). These things should be taken in consideration when making a choice.

Family child care is provided from a care giver's personal home, making the atmosphere most similar to a child's home.[5] State licensing requirements vary, so the parent should conduct careful interviews and home inspections, as well as complete a background check on the caregiver's license. Any complaints against the caregiver will be documented and available for public record. Family care (depending upon the relative levels of state subsidy for centre-based care) is generally the most affordable childcare option, and offers often greater flexibility in hours available for care. In addition, family care generally has a small ratio of children in care, allowing for more interaction between child and provider than would be had at a commercial care centre. Family child care helps foster emotionally secure interpersonal relationships for everyone involved.The providers are able to communicate each day with parents on a personal level and share information about the development of the child. Providers care for multi-aged groups of children allowing children to remain with one caregiver for many years which helps children develop a sense of trust and security. Multi-aged settings allow children to learn from one another and allow siblings to stay together. Some family child care providers may offer parents more flexibility with hours of operation such as evening, weekend, overnight, and before and after school care. They may also offer care for children with special needs.[6]

Family day homes offer group care to young children in another person's home. This is often a choice families make based on either the desire to keep their child in a more typical family-friendly environment (compared to a child-care centre), or on finances, since a family day home may not be as costly as a centre-based program. The adult-to-child ratio may be the same, but the environment more closely resembles that of a family's home.[7]

Centre-based care[edit]

Commercial care centres also known as daycares are open for set hours, and provide a standardized and regulated system of care for children. Parents may choose from a commercial care centre close to their work, and some companies offer care at their facilities. Active children may thrive in the educational activities provided by a quality commercial care centre, but according to the National Centre for Early Development and Learning, children from low quality centres may be significantly less advanced in terms of vocabulary and reading skills.[1] Classes are usually largest in this type of care, ratios of children to adult caregivers will vary according to state licensing requirements. Some positives of commercial care are children gain independence, academic achievement and socialization.[8]

Pre-school is often the term used to refer to child care centres that care primarily for 3 and 4-year old children. Preschool can be based in a centre, family child care home or a public school. Head Start is a federally funded program for low income children ages 3 and 4 and their families. Similarly Early Head Start serves low income children birth to 3 years of age.[9] The cost for the Head Start program is estimated at $9,000 per child. Head Start program provides federal grants directly to local agencies to provide comprehensive child development services for low-income children and families. Today, Head Start serves more than one million low-income children. Head Start programs aim to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.[10]

Infants may also be cared for in infant and child care centres. Resources for Infant Educators is a non-profit world-wide organization, founded by the late Magda Gerber, a specialist in Infant Care.

Another method of child care is for before and/or after school: the YMCA program. There are buses that bring the child to the location. YMCA website claims that its programs are staffed with people who understand the cognitive, physical and social development of kids, the need children have to feel connected and supported in trying new things, and the caring and reinforcement parents and families need to help each other. The YMCA aims to enable preschoolers to experience early literacy and learn about their world, and school-age kids make friends, learn new skills and do homework.[11]

Regardless of type of care chosen, a quality care provider should provide children with (a) light, bright and clean areas to play as well as separate sleeping and eating areas and (b) be the kind of person you can have confidence in leaving your child with.[12] Most western countries also have compulsory education during which the great majority of children are at school starting from five or six years of age. The school will act in loco parentis meaning "in lieu of parent supervision".

In many locales, government is responsible for monitoring the quality of care. For instance, in Scotland Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education is responsible for improving care and education for children from birth to eighteen. This is implemented by inspections carried out by HMIE itself or by other members of inspection and review teams. Inspection reports include feedback from staff and parents as well as the inspectors, aiming to provide parents and carers information to help them decide whether a particular child care setting is providing good quality child care and meeting government standards.[13]

Informal care[edit]

Informal childcare is a variation of childcare that utilizes family members as a childcare system, for example grandparents and siblings. Informal childcare is an especially inexpensive form of childcare, and is utilized typically by those who are considered poor. Parents may need to utilize informal care for a variety of reasons. Typically informal childcare is necessary for families who do not have enough funds to finance placing their children in a more expensive child care facility. Those low income families are also more apt to work longer hours on an irregular and inflexible schedule, which ultimately makes using a childcare facility that has regular business hours unlikely. A study done by Roberta Iversen and Annie Armstrong explains that due to long and irregular working hours, sometimes including evenings and weekends, poor parents are more likely to utilize informal childcare.[14]

Unlike those children who receive centre-based or home based childcare, those children who receive informal childcare do not receive the same educational preparation and school readiness that centre-based and home based children receive. In his book Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, sociologist Christopher Doob finds that poor children are less likely to attend the centre-based and home based childcare programs, which Doob finds that informal care thus results in the less developed school-related skills children need. Doob concludes that due to a lack of financial capital, poor families are thus subject to substandard amounts of human capital, which results in lower quality childcare programs, and ultimately leaves children at a cognitive disadvantage.[15]


In England, childcare is inspected and regulated by OFSTED (previously this was administered by Local Authority Social Services). Care for children under five is split into Childcare on Domestic Premises which is Childminding and Daycare. In the UK being a ‘Childminder’ is a protected title and can only be used by registered professionals. Registered Childminders are trained, insured and qualified in Pediatric First Aid. They comply/administer/work with The Early Years Foundation Stage EYFS and have the same responsibilities for education as nurseries and reception classes. They generally work from their own homes and are always self-employed setting their own terms and conditions. The basic numbers of children that childminders can care for is 6 children under 8 years of age; of these children, 3 may be under 5 and of these 1 may be under 1. These numbers include the childminders own children (although the childminder’s children will not be included in the childminding ‘Certificate’). Some childminders work with either childminding assistants or with co-childminders, which often increases the number of children that can be cared for and individual childminders can request a ‘variation’ which may increase the children that they care for particularly for ‘continuity of care’ or for twins. There is a professional body – the Professional Association for Childcare & Early Years (formerly the National Childminding Association), which “Promotes and supports quality child-minding expertise” and provides information for Childminders and parents.

Effects on child development[edit]

For many, the use of paid childcare is a matter of choice with arguments on both sides about whether this is beneficial or harmful[16] to children. The parental decisions of leaving a child with someone and who that someone will be are two of the most difficult decisions in the lives of most parents.[17] A parent fears for the safety and security of his/her child. They need to be able trust the person or facility they choose as a provider for childcare. Whether this person is family, friend, live in, centre based, young, old, well educated, or barely trained, the parents want to feel comfortable leaving their children with them. To have trust in the caregiver, the parent wants to know what kind of effects the type of service they provide will have on the development of their child. The development of a child has many factors, but it is most directly influenced by the type and quality of care that is most regularly provided to the child.

Child development researcher, Lian Tong, analysed the results from a Haley and Stansbury experiment saying, "Parent responsiveness also facilitates cognitive, social, and emotional development and reduces negative emotions in infants."[18] This study applies to more age groups than just infants. To sum that up, the amount of time that a parent or teacher is willing to spend teaching, listening to, playing with, and exploring with the child the more socially, emotionally, and educationally developed the child will become. Whether that child receives the majority of his or her care at a centre or at its house, the biggest factor in deciding what will have the best effect on the child will be those willing to put in the time and effort it takes to properly develop a child's social, physical, and academic skills.

In discussing the numbers it is important to note that in 2001, more than one half of the children in the United States attended childcare facilities. This number has only increased as the number of working parents has increased. The increase in the amount of children that are required to have some sort of childcare service has made childcare facilities more necessary than they have ever been.[19] The quality of childcare given by a facility is generally indicated by the centre's cost of enrolment. If the centre charges more for the service, it will generally provide better care to the children. Centres that charge more for their services can provide quality education, more current resources, and nicer facilities. These are all helpful when trying to educate a child academically. A higher standard for teachers, such as requiring a degree in early childhood education or a degree of the like, has shown to result in improved growth in the development of a child. The childcare system in France is a great example of this. They have two separate branches of early childhood childcare. These two separate branches are called crèche and école maternelle. Crèche is the program for infants and toddlers and école maternelle is part of the education system. They both require teacher to have a college degree and sometimes a specialized degree on top of that.[17]

Whether at an expensive facility or relatively inexpensive, children who attend daycare facilities tend to develop social skills more quickly than children of the same age group that are reared at home. They communicate better with children of the same age and often try harder to communicate with those that are younger than them, by using patience and taking different approaches at presenting the data.[20] Surprisingly, a study done by Erik Dearing, has proven that negative social behaviour patterns are not directly connected to daycare. By studying a large selection of children from the Norwegian childcare system he concluded that the amount of hours a child spends at a daycare and their behaviour have no dependent relations.[21] Though in America, Children who attend childcare systems have a higher risk of externalizing the symptoms of negative social behaviour, exhibiting these traits can directly correlate with their time spent in the centre.[22]

There are links between the income, education, and importance of consistency and the well being of the child, to the parents, and the development of their child. Higher educated parents place more importance on the education of their children than the parents who do not have a college degree or have not graduated from high school. Likewise, parents who have a higher income level are more willing to part with their money to purchase a private tutor or nanny to assist the parent in the education of their child. They also tend to stress the importance of being socially inept.[18] The first few years of a child's life are important to form a basis for good education, morality, self-discipline and social integration. Consistency of approach, skills and qualifications of careers have been shown in many studies to improve the chances of a child reaching his or her full potential.

Steps in choosing the right childcare centre[edit]

ChildForum provides the following practical advice for parents when making their childcare program decision: (1) Do not make a final decision too quickly. You may get a misleading impression if you base your decision on what the advertisement or the brochures say, or what you are told on the phone. (2) Have a trial period. If you are considering enrolling at a centre or home-based service have some short visits with your child before officially starting and stay with your child to observe. Also have some spontaneous/unscheduled visits, “We were just passing and thought we would pop in to say hi”. (3) If you are employing a nanny or caregiver in your own home ask the person to come for an hour or two over three to five days or to do some childcare so you can get a feel for if this person is a good fit for your child and for you. (4) If the childcare arrangement does not live up to your expectations or if you find it does not work out as well you had expected do not feel embarrassed or shy about withdrawing your child or asking for a change. If you think your child may be experiencing harm or is at risk discontinue using the childcare immediately. Put your child first and before any personal obligations to the teachers, nanny, or service.[23]

Value of unpaid childcare[edit]

Parents and mothers especially spend a significant amount of time raising their children. These mothers nurture and develop their children into being functional members of society- hard work that is not motivated by monetary gain. For centuries it has been assumed that women will stay home and take care of the children while their husbands go out and work. In most cases, the husbands get all the credit for providing for the family. However, their homemaker wives deserve just as much credit for their care work. Caregivers do not receive monetary compensation and they must pay a ‘care-penalty.[24]

A care-penalty is the price one pays for doing care work for a family member. Care giving demands a lot out of an individual, and as a result there is a high opportunity cost. The opportunity cost can relate to both time and money. Instead of taking care of a family member, a caregiver could spend time working or performing more leisure activities. Care penalties are not strictly related to childcare- they can also refer to taking care of a sick family member, babysitting a younger sibling, or taking an elderly family member to his/her doctor’s appointments.

Studies have been done to get an annual salary estimate for a female caregiver. One reputable survey suggested that the value of a female caregiver’s work would be $117,867 per year.[25] The reason for the high salary is because mothers typically perform about 10 different job functions throughout the week. These job functions can include: cooking, cleaning, driving, and laundry among other duties. A nanny wouldn't make nearly as much money, but they would be putting in fewer hours and performing fewer duties.

It is important to assess the value of caregivers because they are what truly make society function,[26] and often their work is under-appreciated. They prepare the next generation for school, work, and decision-making. A child’s entire future largely depends on how he/she was nurtured. Not only does the child depend on this care, but the schools and employers also depend on the childcare. The government also benefits because these children will eventually become taxpayers, congressmen, and voters. Eventually, they will be the ones running the country. The value of unpaid childcare is also an important figure in various legal entities. Expert witnesses (most often economists) are occasionally brought into court cases to give estimates on the value of unpaid labor. By giving estimation, the plaintiff or defendant can be fairly compensated for their labor.

Learning stories[edit]

Learning Stories [27] are documents that are used by Carers and educators in childcare settings. They use a story- telling format instead of a traditional ‘observation’ report to document the different ways that young children learn, and capture the moment in greater detail and provide parents with a greater insight into the events that occur in their child’s time in childcare.

What they include

Learning stories originate from Australia as they use a learning model in their curriculum called "Te Whaariki". It highlights children's learning outcomes as 'dipositions' which are “situated learning strategies plus motivation-participation repertoires from which a learner recognises, selects, edits, responds to, resists, searches for and constructs learning opportunities” [29][30]


According to Chris Knight, the first humans were few; then the population "exploded .... Population expansion on such a scale is inconsistent with female tolerance of infanticide, harassment, or the heavy costs to mothers of male philandering and double standards. If unusually large numbers of unusually large-brained offspring were being successfully raised to maturity, the quality of childcare must have been exceptional. We know what the optimal solution would have been. There can be no doubt that mothers would have done best by ... taking advantage of every available childcare resource."[31]

Plato, according to Elaine Hoffman Baruch, around 394 B.C., argued that a system of child care would free women to participate in society.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Cost of Child Care". Single Mother Guide. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Olson, Lynn (1/10/02). "Starting Early". Education Week 21 (17): 10–11. "According to the 2002 Quality Counts survey conducted by Education Week, approximately 12 million children, are being cared for or supervised by parents, Early childhood educators, relatives, or other child-care providers" 
  3. ^ ChildForum Childcare Information
  4. ^ "Daycare vs. Nannycare: The Pros and Cons". Parents With Nannies, Inc. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  5. ^ National Association of Family Child Care
  6. ^ "What is Family Child Care". National Association for Family Child Care. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Opening a Family Child Care Home". Maryland State Department of Education. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Cerbasi, Jennifer. "The Pros and Cons of Daycare". FOX News Network. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Office of Head Start
  10. ^ "Head Start and Early Head Start". Children's Defense Fund. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Child Care". YMCA of the USA. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  12. ^ ChildForum list of childcare caregiver qualities and characteristics
  13. ^ "Childproof Your Home!". 3 April 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  14. ^ Iversen, Roberta Rehner, and Annie Laurie Armstrong. 2006. Jobs Aren't Enough: Toward a New Economic Mobility for Low-Income Families. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  15. ^ Doob, Christopher B. 2013. Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Pearson. 227-253.
  16. ^ Daycare - Daycares Don't Care, How Can a Daycare Love?
  17. ^ a b Cohn, Jonathan. "The Hell Of American Day Care. (Cover Story)." New Republic 244.6 (2013): 20. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 7 Oct. 2013.
  18. ^ a b Tong, Lian, et al. "Early Development of Empathy in Toddlers: Effects of Daily Parent–Child \Interaction and Home-Rearing Environment." Journal of applied Social Psychology. 42.10 (2012): 2457-2478. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
  19. ^ Yazejian, Noreen, et al. "The Relation Of Preschool Child-Care Quality To Children's Cognitive And Social Developmental Trajectories Through Second Grade." Child Development 72.5 (2001): 1534. Education Research Complete. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.
  20. ^ Radboud University Nijmegen. "Children who go to daycare may benefit from a wider variety of social situations." ScienceDaily, 30 Aug. 2013. Web. 6 Oct. 2013.
  21. ^ Dearing, Erik, et al. "New study challenges links between daycare and behavioural issues." ScienceDaily, 17 Jan. 2013. Web. 6 Oct. 2013.
  22. ^ Dewar, Gwen. "The Dark Side of Preschool:." The Dark Side of Preschool. N.p., 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2013.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Folbre, Nancy. The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values. New York: New, 2001
  25. ^ "Mom Salary Wizard?2010. Mother's Day Paycheck for Mom's Job." Web. <>
  26. ^ Folbre, Nancy. "Valuing Unpaid Work Matters, Especially for the Poor -" The Economy and the Economics of Everyday Life - Economix Blog - Web. <>.
  27. ^ Carr, M. (2012) Learning stories : constructing learner identities in early education. London: Sage.
  28. ^ Kearns, K, 2010. Birth to Big School. 2nd ed. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.",
  29. ^ Blaiklock, K (2008) A critique of the use of learning stories to assess the learning dispositions of young children, NZ Research in ECE Journal, Vol. 11, pg 77-87.
  30. ^ Kate Ryan. 2006. Family Daycare Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 11].
  31. ^ Knight, Chris, Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal, in Allen, Nicholas J., Hillary Callan, Robin Dunbar, & Wendy James, eds., Early Human Kinship: From Sex to Social Reproduction (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2008 (ISBN 978-1-4051-7901-0)), pp. 81-82 (author prof. anthropology, Univ. of East London).
  32. ^ Schönpflug, Karin, Feminism, Economics and Utopia: Time Travelling Through Paradigms (Oxon/London: Routledge, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-415-41784-6)), pp. 159–160 (author economist, Austrian Ministry of Finance, & lecturer, Univ. of Vienna), citing Rohrlich, R. & Elaine Hoffman Baruch, Women in Search of Utopia: Mavericks and Mythmakers (N.Y.: Schocken Books, 1984), and Plato, The Republic (ca. 394 B.C.).

External links[edit]