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Child Care Options
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There are a wide variety of child care and early education programs available to you.
Child Care Centers
Child Care Centers usually provide more structure and includes daycare nurseries, preschools, parent cooperatives, and drop-in child care centers. Families often choose this type of care because they offer children the opportunity to interact with a larger number of children and adults. Child Care Centers offer programs to a variety of age groups and vary in terms of educational philosophy, curriculum, costs and services.
Infant and Toddler Centers
Infant and Toddler Centers are specialized for infants and toddlers. Infant and toddler care should be based on relationship planning -- not lesson planning -- and should emphasize child-directed learning over adult-directed learning. For care to be good, it must explore ways to help caregivers get "in tune" with each infant they serve and learn from the individual infant what he or she needs, thinks, and feels.
Preschools are often chosen because parents believe that larger groups, multiple caregivers and state inspections make programs safer for their children and make the arrangement more dependable. They respect the reputation of the child care program or the institution sponsoring the program. Many parents believe that more staff, space, equipment, toys and the organized activities, provides a better learning environment for their children.
Head Start is a program designed to promote the growth and development of children from low-income families. Early Head Start provides learning and development services for families with children up to three years of age. Care can be given in a center and/or home. The program also offers assistance to children with special needs as well as career development and training for Head Start parents.
Before and After School Programs
Before and After School Programs are usually located in schools, child care centers, churches or other settings that offer child care. These programs may or may not be licensed by the State depending on their location. These programs usually provide child care to pre-kindergarten through 6th grade children before and after school, during school vacations and summer breaks.
Relative Care or Friend Care is care provided by a relative or friend you know and trust. This is a form of license-exempt care which is not required to meet the State’s child care licensing requirements. License-exempt providers can care for up to 2 children who are not related to them in addition to their own children or relatives. Parents who use this kind of care consider themselves lucky to have a relative, friend or neighbor care for their children. They believe that these caregivers will provide warmer, more loving care for the child and that the child will be more secure. Many parents believe that relatives, friends and neighbors will be more likely to share their values and they feel more comfortable entrusting their children to them. Sometimes parents use this type of care because their schedules, budgets or transportation problems limit their other child care options.
In-Home Care is care provided in the child’s home and the provider is sometimes called a “nanny” or “au pair”. This type of care is not regulated by the Department of Human Services. Parents choose in-home care because they believe their children will be safer and more secure in their own home. They believe that if they employ the caregiver to work in their home, they have more control over the kind of care their children will receive. Some parents find in-home care a more convenient arrangement and may provide more flexibility. If there are several children involved, they may find that in-home care is not significantly more expensive than other forms of care.