This table provides details on the most common childcare options. It includes cost estimates, advantages, and disadvantages for each option.
Choosing the right childcare provider to care for your child while you are working or away is an important decision that most families will make at some point. There are several childcare options open to parents and it's important to know the full range available to you. The type of childcare you choose will depend on the needs of your family and what works best for your child.
Here are some options to consider:
- Child care centers where your child is in a group setting with children the same age and multiple child care providers. These tend to be more structured environments with trained professional staff.
- Family child care where your child stays at someone's home and the children may range in age. These may feel more comfortable and home-like to your child than other settings. The staff may not have the same level of training though and the program may not have backup care if the caregiver gets sick or goes on vacation.
- In-home care where a child care provider comes to your home and looks after your child. This is often the most expensive option, but it allows your child to receive more one-on-one attention from a caregiver. It also gives you more control over the care your child receives.
- Nursery schools or preschools where your child is in a group setting that is generally not year-round or full-day and has planned educational activities. These are usually for slightly older children, starting age two, and have a greater focus on education and school readiness.
- Babysitting co-ops are groups of parents that organize to provide childcare to one another. These can be formal or informal but offer a lower-cost solution. Most cannot offer full-time care, but co-ops are a great option for part-time childcare. You can consider starting your own babysitting co-op if there is not one available in your area.
- Family care is when a family member, like a grandparent, helps to take care of your child. This can be a great, low cost or free way of helping support your childcare needs and allowing your child to develop an attachment to a close family member. Having a family member take care of your child can be a challenge, however, if you don’t have the same parenting ideas or if you don’t have clear expectations.
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This document provides tips to help parents consider their child’s personal needs when selecting childcare.