Family child care – is it for you?

What exactly is family child care?

I’ve found that this can vary greatly. Some dayhomes, are exactly that – children being cared for in someone else’s home. They receive the same care as the children of the caregiver – in many cases a nurturing, relaxed, environment much like days off at home with their parents. There are also a large number of settings (both licensed and unregistered) that are set-up much like a group child care centre. They may have designated a separate space of their home (i.e the basement) to the child care space. Some are licensed for dayhome purposes, while some are even licensed for a small (single caregiver in most cases) group license.

Not all regions require licensing or registration. In my home province of Nova Scotia individuals can care for up to six children under the age of six without a license, but there is a voluntary registration program for those who choose to participate.

Group child care licensing would apply for any group larger than this maximum.

Some home child care providers are early childhood educators who have chosen to remain at home with their own children and wish to continue their trade in an environment that they have more control over. Many home child care providers are parents without early childhood training, who love spending the day with their children, and have chosen to contribute to the household income by opening their home to other children. They may have a good awareness of child development from personal experience.

Is there a “best” type of family child care? That is a very personal choice. The main thing that licensing and registration provide are some minimal standards and external monitoring of them.

Many parents prefer a structured setting for their children that incorporates all of the traditional preschool programming, while others choose family child care specifically for its flexibility in that their children can feel as much like they’re at home as possible. You can only know by getting out to visit the caregivers and getting a feel for what they have to offer. Use theĀ family child care checklist to prompt questions. Visit the centre on more than one occasion and go with what feels right for you, your child and your family.