Tips on How to Find Quality In-Home Daycare for Children

Parents can research, make visits and talk to others to make the right choice

kids in daycare with provider
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In-home childcare (also known as family daycare) is a situation where families pay to bring their child to the home of an adult, who looks after children on a regular and ongoing basis.Parents choose family child care for a variety of reasons.This childcare option is different than a nanny because children are brought to the caregiver's home for care. This childcare is run out of the provider’s home, often as she cares for her own children at the same time. While some home daycare providers have received training and are state-licensed, many are not. In-home daycare is usually the least expensive form of child care. It offers a home-like setting, rather than a center one. Family child programs usually offer a mixed age group, with a collection of infants, toddlers and preschoolers, so it's more like a family than a classroom.

Determine Your Preferred Type of Childcare

When thinking about in-home childcare, the first question is to ask yourself is - are interested in a nanny, a home provider or a childcare center Nannies typically work in your home for your child and you can look for one whose child-rearing value system is similar to your own. They are a costly option, however. Home providers typically have small, mixed-age groups and the child remains with the same caregiver. If you decide on in-home care, here are some things to consider:

Benefits of In-home Daycare

  • Cost: In-home childcare is usually less expensive than formal daycare or hiring a nanny. 
  • Attention: There are fewer children than a traditional daycare center which means more personal attention and less exposure to illness.
  • Continuous care: Most childcare centers take babies at a very young age through toddler age.
  • Socialization: Your baby will get lots of face time and socialization with other kids.
  • Reliability: Most centers stay open for about 12 hours to support a variety of parent schedules.

Drawbacks of In-home Daycare

  • Lack of licensing and training: Some providers are unlicensed and don’t need to have childcare training which means they are not regularly inspected for quality and may not have to follow proper ratios in terms of child-to-caregiver ratios, group size, activities and materials.
  • No back-up: In-home daycare may only have one or two caregivers so if she (or one of her own children) is sick, there is usually no backup caregiver. In these situations, you will need back-up care or to take the day off. 

Choosing Your In-home Daycare

When choosing a daycare, you should ask similar questions to those you'd ask when looking at a traditional daycare on topics, such as cost, safety, hours and sick policy. 

For a home daycare, also ask:

  • Who else will be in the house when my child is there? Ask about all adults, teens and elders in the home. Find out what roles, if any, they will play in your child’s care and if they have experience with kids. 
  • What about policies for personal emergencies and time off? Ask the caregiver about her vacation time and what she does in  personal emergencies  that require her to leave.
  • Does your insurance cover my child? Find out if the caregiver’s homeowner’s insurance covers injuries to any child in her care - even though you hope you will never need to use it.

What to Look For When You Visit

When you have narrowed down your search, schedule a visit. Keep your eyes open for the following things:

  • Happy children
  • Compassionate caregivers
  • A stimulating environment
  • Separation of age groups
  • Locked doors
  • A clean and healthy setting
  • Adequate space
  • Safety measures
  • Licensing
  • Open communication
  • Good reputation

Tips for Parents

Be persistent when placing your children in childcare. Don't just visit the childcare center once. Visit it twice or three times at different times during the day. Find other parents seeking childcare and talk to them about their plans. Get references from them on any childcare leads they have. 

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