Family Child Care VS. Center Based Care

Jul 7, 2000

I have worked with licensed Family Child Care (and am currently in the process of getting my own license) and I have also worked in a Child Care Center. I believe that there are pros and cons to each one. After the first decision of putting your child in somebody else's care, this is the second decision you will need to make. What kind of care is best for your family? I will be focusing here on two of the major options, Family Child Care and Center based care.

Can My Child Really Learn In Your Home?
Many Licensed Child Care Providers offer a Pre School program at an in home setting. A lot of parents are duped into believing that unless the children are sitting at a table, having a letter, shape and color of the day they are not learning. This just is not the case. Most kids learn through more hands-on. You know your child best-and you know how they will benefit most.

Child Care Centers:
A major plus with centers is most of them are not going anywhere. Unless they go bankrupt-which is highly unlikely, or explode, the center will be there for a long, long time. You will not get any calls from the provider saying that they have a family emergency and will be closed for the day. If they are open, they are open, there is no debating it.

Also, you are guaranteed, in most states, that the teachers have some Childhood Education. Centers cannot hire somebody unless the teacher has been trained. (Every state has different guidelines, so please check yours)

Centers may also follow a very structured curriculum. They usually don't drop their lesson plan to do what the child wants because they have directors and owners.

Family Child Care:
I am not afraid to admit that I am biased towards Family Child Care (Look at what I am doing now). I believe that children thrive in a home environment. Family Child Care offers more one on one to your child. In a Family Child Care, children can climb into the lap of the provider and listen to a book, whereas in a center, it is usually done with the teacher up front holding the book up for all children to see.

When you choose a Family Child Care provider, you can match personalities a lot closer than you can with a center, which tend to have high turn around of teachers. You can choose what qualifications you request of your provider. You will know that they have had education, experience or training based on what they tell and prove to you.

Most states require Family Child Care Providers to go through licensing, which makes sure the home is safe and the provider, as well as all adults living in the home "check out" However, they do not require education.

I would suggest that if you are deciding to look for a program for your child, you look at both Family Child Care and Pre School centers. See what the local ones have to offer.

I have written an earlier Epinion on what to look for when choosing a Family Child Care Provider. However, here is a brief overview of things to consider.

Make sure your standards for the provider meet yours, do you believe there is a correlation between education and quality of care? Does the teacher/provider take interest in expanding their knowledge with workshops and college classes? How are they doing in those classes? Are they making A's and B's or C's and D's? Is that important to you?

How much experience does the provider/teacher have? Do they have references for you to call and request info from? Were the previous clients happy with the quality of care their child received?

Morals & Beliefs:
Does the provider/center have the same beliefs as you? Do they celebrate holidays you and your family do not celebrate? Do they enhance imagination and creativity in children? (This is the first thing I notice, do all the pictures on the walls look identical?) How do they help your child develop? Are they very academic? Does your child thrive through strict academics or more hands-on experiences?

Make sure that whatever type of care you choose for your child, you never stop investigating the provider/teacher/center. Call licensing and ask about how many and what kind of complaints they have received. This is public record. Are they always out of ratio?

To get a list of Child Care Centers and Providers, check your phone book for a resource and referral agency. Their job is to give you lists of providers and what they have to offer you.

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