Family Child Care is an Excellent Choice!
There may be no place like home for your child, but finding a quality in-home family child care provider can be the next best thing. Family child care providers are small business owners who care for and educate small groups of children in their homes. They are registered in Georgia by Bright from the Start: Department of Early Care and Learning.
The great majority of families who use family child care are families who need safe, stable and high quality care for their children while they’re at work or in a training program preparing to enter the work force. Family child care providers may work over 60 hours a week, and may offer care during non-traditional hours including early morning, evenings or nights, weekends and sometimes, even holidays. This can be important for nurses, flight attendants, and first responders.
They generally care for infants and toddlers, and they may also offer before and after school care, especially for children who were in their programs as infants and toddlers. This provides continuity for the children as well as peace of mind for the parents.
Parents have many options when it comes to choosing child care. Parents are encouraged to check out all of their options and visit many different providers before making this very important decision.
Many families appreciate the benefits of using family child care, where early childhood educators care for a smaller number of children in the comfort of their homes.
Here are some reasons to consider family care.
• Children Receive Care in a Home Situation
Family child care is an attractive option for many families because the setting is essentially a home away from home. Quality care providers can offer families the comfort of care in a setting similar to what children are used to at their own home, complete with a living room, play area, kitchen, back yard and bathrooms. Family child care providers often treat their enrolled children as extended members of their own family, and a smaller number of children in their care allows “family” outings to the park or story hour, or even nature hikes or sidewalk strolls. Meals are usually served family style in a central dining area, and comfort, familiarity, and small group activities are added benefits.
• Child-Provider Ratios are Small
Licensed home providers operate within the regulations specified by Bright from the Start: Department of Early Care and Learning and one of those requirements is how many children can be kept by any one family child care provider. While the number may vary, providers may care for six children, but some providers may choose to keep less. A day care center’s group size may be larger, and it is easy to understand why family child care can be a preferred option for many families. An important question to ask is how many children will be cared for during the day, and whether that number may change.
• Homes Can be Close and Convenient
Family child care homes can often be found in the same neighborhoods, or near where you live, so convenience plays a key role. Depending on the provider, some may even offer transportation to and from schools or enrichment activities for working parents.
• Infant Care Feels Right at Home
While some parents prefer to move their preschooler to a Pre-K setting prior to entering school to become used to more children and activities, many families like the smaller and calmer home setting for infants and young children. Nurseries at daycare centers can sometimes appear to look institutional, which can be upsetting to parents with a baby. However, having a provider who can care for a child in a home setting with only one or two babies can be an appealing choice.
• Training and Experience is Often Superior
Every family child care provider will have different experiences and training classes, so ask about it. But all registered providers are required to complete safety training, have their homes inspected by state regulators for health and safety requirements, and have gone the extra mile for the children and their parents. Check with your state about what you should look for with a licensed care provider. If you choose to use unregulated care, be sure you understand what the implications are of that as well. Parents are usually most comfortable with experienced providers who receive ongoing training.
• Turnover is Low
While teachers may come and go at commercial day care settings, many family child care providers tend to keep the same children from birth until they are ready for kindergarten. This creates a strong bond between the provider and the child and with parents as they work together to help raise a child. Provider continuity and adult cooperation surrounds each child with care and promotes healthy brain development.
•Parents and Providers Can Work as Team
Parents get to know their child’s provider personally because they are in their home and meet their family. This leads to parents and providers forming a relationship and teaming together to raise a child. Issues concerning food choices, potty training, and discipline can be resolved through ongoing communications. Parents should learn the provider’s philosophy and routine, and providers should see how the parents’ requests can be included while ensuring all the needs of all the children are met. Since not all parents and providers will agree, making sure there is a good match before enrolling a child is important for everyone.
• Some Family Providers Have Strong Networks
Many family providers develop a strong network of other providers. National and state associations offer training and support and local associations of providers get together to talk and exchange ideas about activities, problems, and new ways to improve the care of children. This is good news for parents, who are receiving up-to-date information and advice from their providers. This connection allows some family providers to have a back-up plan if they should become ill but parents should be prepared to provide substitute care on a short-term basis if needed.
• Cost is On Par With Other Child Care Options
Cost is almost always a consideration by families when choosing child care. Rates will vary greatly depending on where you live and the age of your children, but most family child care providers charge about the same as day care centers. Supply fees that corporate day care centers charge are usually less too. Parents may have greater flexibility with helping with snacks or providing sack lunches, or bringing in diapers or other supplies, as a way to help save on costs. Some providers may also be available for parents only needing part-time care or may offer sibling discounts. Parents should always keep in mind that family child care is a business, and that a provider will expect payments on time and the drop-off and pick-up of children on time as well.