Child care, otherwise known as day care, is the care and supervision of a child or multiple children at a time, whose ages range from six weeks to thirteen years. Child care is the action or skill of looking after children by a day-care center, nannies, babysitter, teachers or other providers. Child care is a broad topic that covers a wide spectrum of professionals, institutions, contexts, activities, and social and cultural conventions. Early child care is an equally important and often overlooked component of child development. Child care providers can be children's first teachers, and therefore play an integral role in systems of early childhood education. Quality care from a young age can have a substantial impact on the future successes of children. The main focus of childcare is on the development of the child, whether that be mental, social, or psychological.
In most cases children are taken care of by their parents, legal guardians, or siblings. In some cases, it is also seen that children care for other children. This informal care includes verbal direction and other explicit training regarding the child's behavior, and is often as simple as "keeping an eye out" for younger siblings. Care facilitated by similar-aged children covers a variety of developmental and psychological effects in both caregivers and charge. This is due to their mental development being in a particular case of not being able to progress as it should be at their age. This care giving role may also be taken on by the child's extended family. Another form of childcare that is on the rise in contrast to familial caregiving is that of center-based child care. In lieu of familial care giving, these responsibilities may be given to paid caretakers, orphanages or foster homes to provide care, housing, and schooling.
Professional caregivers work within the context of a center-based care (including crèches, daycare, preschools and schools) or a home-based care (nannies or family daycare). The majority of child care institutions that are available require that child care providers to have extensive training in first aid and be CPR certified. In addition, background checks, drug testing at all centers, and reference verification are normally a requirement. Child care can consist of advanced learning environments that include early childhood education or elementary education. "The objective of the program of daily activities should be to foster incremental developmental progress in a healthy and safe environment and should be flexible to capture the interests of the children and the individual abilities of the children."  In many cases the appropriate child care provider is a teacher or personal with educational background in child development, which requires a more focused training aside from the common core skills typical of a child caregiver.
In the child's home
At home, care is typically provided by nannies, au pairs, or friends and family. The child is watched inside their own home which could expose them to outside children and illnesses. Depending on the number of children in the home, the children utilizing in-home care could enjoy the greatest amount of interaction with their caregiver, in turn forming a close bond. There are no required licensing or background checks for in-home care, making parental vigilance essential in choosing an appropriate caregiver. Nanny and au pair services provide certified caregivers and the cost of in-home care is the highest of childcare options per child, though a household with many children may find this the most convenient and affordable option. Many nannies study towards childcare qualifications. This means they are trained to create a safe and stimulating environment for your child to enjoy and thrive in. Typically, au pairs or nannies provide more than routine child care, often providing assistance with daily household activities which include running errands, shopping, doing laundry, fixing meals, and cleaning the house.
The most now common way to find a nanny is via the childcare website/care website or a nanny agency. Nanny agencies will thoroughly check an applicant's references and run a criminal background check on the successful candidate. Having a nanny could be cheaper than putting multiple children in a daycare setting full-time. Nannies could provide stability for the child who gets to have a regular role model in their life. Nannies often work overtime and babysit, providing less stress for parents running late without being charged excessive late fees. They also care for sick children whereas nurseries do not. This enables the parents to continue working normally without being interrupted. All nannies have first aid and background checks which are either checked by the agency or the family themselves. They can be subject to visits from their local childcare regulatory bodies. Children with nannies could also be well socialized as nannies could be able to take them out and attend more playdates.
In the provider's home
Family child care providers care for children in the provider's own home. The children could be in a mixed age group with a low adult-to-child ratio. Care can also potentially be personalized and individual. The hours may be more flexible and the provider may offer evening and weekend care for parents who work shifts. The cost in a family child care could be significantly lower on average than that of a center.
Child care facilities in the US have the option of becoming accredited. This standard is set and regulated by an outside agency. In centers, National Association for the Education of Young Children institutes it. For family child care providers, the National Association of Family Child Care Providers award the credentials.
Licensed or unlicensed home daycare is also referred to as family child care, or in home care. It refers to the care provided to a group of children in the home of a caregiver. State laws differ regarding rules for licensed versus unlicensed care. In Canada, most home daycares are unlicensed, and this is completely lawful. Licensing home daycares in Canada can help greatly with oversight, but at the cost of a large portion of the daycare provider's pay. Family child cares are small in size and provide families the same securities as a daycare center, and also has the benefits of flexible hours, lower costs, accessibility, and cultural compatibility. Home-based providers can give more individualized care and therefore better meet the needs of working families. In addition, family care generally has a small ratio of children in care, allowing for more interaction between child and provider than would be had at a commercial care center. Family child care helps foster emotionally secure interpersonal relationships for everyone involved. The providers are able to communicate each day with parents on a personal level and share information about the development of the child. Providers care for multi-aged groups of children allowing children to remain with one caregiver for many years which helps children develop a sense of trust and security. Multi-aged settings allow children to learn from one another and allow siblings to stay together. Some family child care providers may offer parents more flexibility with hours of operation such as evening, weekend, overnight, and before and after school care.
Center based childcare
In a childcare center, teachers focus on the physical and mental developments of their students. In order to have a greater understanding of the student, teachers in centers must incorporate a relationship with their students that benefits their wants and needs while pushing them toward a higher set of values. This type of teaching with a caring relationship will improve a student's moral and incidental learning.
Commercial care center also known as daycares are open for set hours, and provide a standardized and regulated system of care for children. Parents may choose from a commercial care center close to their work, and some companies may even offer care at their facilities. A form in which parents pick the child care facility can be based on their mission statement and the objectives they find necessary to be addressed. Center based child care should have their mission written out and include one of the main components which is health promotion. These objectives should be shaped to the needs of every child and can change from one to another. The child care provider must see how these objectives are most fit for the child and mend them case by case to their specific needs. In setting up activities for these objectives, both indoor and outdoor activities must be taken into account. The child must have an experience that partakes in all the different forms. This may then cause discussion between the parents and the caregivers.The parents tend to give their input on what they deem as necessary when the needs of their children may be different. Parents are able to communicate with the staff of these facilities because workers who speak the same native language or language of preference must be available for these conversations.
The quality of the center based child care can be very influential on the child and on their overall development. Recent study showed that children in low end classrooms saw the activities as forced while the children in high end classrooms had more memorable experiences. Even though this being the case between high and low end classrooms, other aspects such as the child's background and living situation can play an important role in their development. Active children may thrive in the educational activities provided by a quality commercial care center, but according to the National Center for Early Development and Learning, children from low quality centers may be significantly less advanced in terms of vocabulary and reading skills. Classes are usually largest in this type of care, ratios of children to adult caregivers will vary according to state licensing requirements. Some positive aspects of commercial care are that children may gain a sense of independence, academic achievement, and socialization. Not only is this age crucial for the improvement of their social skills, but also it begins the stages of understanding a classroom setting. Childcare is seen as a reasonable option because it is different than parenting, since it can be seen as more of a routine for the child. This in turn will only have a negative impact on the child if the parent is not there for the emotional needs of the child. Children are placed into centers of socialization and learn many similarities and differences from one another from a very young age. Children are also placed into settings to develop their linguistics and cognitive abilities, which can be measured through observations. Not only is this age crucial for the improvement of their social skills, but also it begins the stages of understanding a classroom setting. These early ages of the child's life are crucial or it would otherwise have a negative impact on their future paths.
Pre-school is often the term used to refer to child care centers that care primarily for 3 and 4-year-old children. Preschool can be based in a center, family child care home or a public school. Older children, in their turn, in most countries are cared in an educational setting, usually a primary school environment. The children are supervised by a teacher all day long, who is responsible for their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. In this regard, most western countries have compulsory education during which the great majority of children are at school starting from five or six years of age. The school will act in loco parentis meaning "in lieu of parent supervision." In many locales, government is responsible for monitoring the quality of care.
For all providers, the largest expense is labor. In a 1999 Canadian survey of formal child care centers, labor accounted for 63% of costs and the industry had an average profit of 5.3%. Given the labor-intensive nature of the industry, it is not surprising that the same survey showed little economies of scale between larger and smaller operators.
Local legislation may regulate the operation of daycare centers, affecting staffing requirements. Laws may mandate staffing ratios (for example 6 weeks to 12 months, 1:4; 12 months to 18 months, 1:5; 18 months to 24 months, 1:9; et and even higher ratios for older children). Legislation may mandate qualifications of supervisors. Staff typically do not require any qualifications but staff under the age of eighteen may require supervision. Typically, once the child reaches the age of twelve, they are no longer covered by daycare legislation and programs for older children may not be regulated.
In Canada, the workforce is predominantly female (95%) and low paid, averaging only 60% of average workforce wage. Many employees are at local minimum wage and are typically paid by the hour rather than salaried. In the United States, "child care worker" is the fifth most female-dominated occupation (95.5% female in 1999). In the US, staffing requirements vary from state to state.
"Considerable research has accumulated showing that not-for-profits are much more likely to produce the high quality environments in which children thrive." Not-for-profit organizations are more likely to provide good services to a vulnerable population under conditions that are very hard to monitor or measure.
- Non-profit day cares have some structural advantages over for-profit operations:
- They may receive preferential treatment in rents especially if they are affiliated with a church that is otherwise unoccupied during the week, or with a school that has surplus space.
- Location within a school may have the advantage of coordinated programs with the school and the advantage of a single location for parents who have older school-age children as well.
- Parents are typically the legal owners of the non-profit day care and will routinely provide consulting services in areas in which they are professionally qualified (for example accounting, legal advice, or human resources) for free. (There are some non-profits not operated by parents, but by a board of directors made up of community representatives who want what is good for the children.)
- Non-profits have an advantage in fund-raising, as most people will not donate to a for-profit childcare organization.
- Non-profits, however, are typically limited in size to a single location, as the parent-owners have no motivation to manage other locations where their children are not present.
- They may suffer from succession issues as children grow and parents leave the management of the day care to other parents.
Local governments, often municipalities, may operate non-profit day care centers. In non-profits, the title of the most senior supervisor is typically "executive director", following the convention of most non-profit organizations.
Family child care homes
Family child care homes can be operated by a single individual out of their home. In most states, the legal age of 18 is only required. There may be occasions when more than one individual cares for children in a family childcare home. This can be a stay-at-home parent who seeks supplemental income while caring for their own child. There are also many family childcare providers who have chosen this field as a profession. Both state and county agency legislation regulate the ratios (number and ages of children) allowed per family child care home. Some counties have more stringent quality standards that require licensing for family child care homes while other counties require little or no regulations for childcare in individuals' homes. Some family child care homes operate illegally with respect to tax legislation where the care provider does not report fees as income and the parent does not receive a receipt to qualify for childcare tax deductions. However, licensing a family child care home is beneficial for family child care home providers so that they can have access to financial benefits from their state government, or the federal government where they are allowed to accept children from parents who meet the criterion to benefit from the government childcare subsidy funding. Examples of such benefits are: free Professional Development and training courses, Child and adult Care Food Program (which allows eligible childcare and family childcare home providers to claim a portion of costs relating to nutritious meals served to children), and more;.
Family childcare may be less expensive than center-based care because of the lower overhead (lower ratios mean less staff are required to maintain regulated ratios. Many family childcare home providers may be certified with the same credentials as center based staff potentially leading to higher level of care.
Franchising of family child care home facilities attempts to bring economies of scale to home daycare. A central operator handles marketing, administration and perhaps some central purchasing while the actual care occurs in individual homes. The central operator may provide training to the individual care providers. Some providers even offer enrichment programs to take the daycare experience to a more educational and professional level.
Informal childcare is a childcare system that utilizes both family and community members. This includes but is not limited to grandparents, siblings, and both children and adult neighbors. This system is inexpensive and many cultures utilize and embrace informal childcare as beneficial to a child's upbringing and education.
Children that receive informal care do not receive the same educational and preparatory regimens as those in a center- or home-based center often do. Instead, learning occurs informally as a direct result of the caretaker and charge's interactions. Learning and development occur differently for every individual. Different periods of a child's growth are known to affect the care taking styles associated with them, from the care of an infant to that of an older adolescent. Other influences on care taking include the expectations of the three parties involved- the parents, caretakers, and children.
In monetary- and production-based societies (such as in the United States), informal childcare is seen in families who do not have enough funds to finance placing their children in a more expensive child care facility. A study done by Roberta Iversen and Annie Armstrong explains that due to long and irregular working hours of working parents, low- socioeconomic families are more likely to utilize informal childcare. Those low income families are also more apt to work longer hours on an irregular and inflexible schedule, which ultimately makes using a childcare facility, that has regular business hours, unlikely.
Children caring for adults
Many types of childcare discuss the different ways in which children are cared for by adults or older children. One additional type of child care involves children caring for adults. Children as caretakers are most often seen in developing countries with restricted or hard-to-access medical assistance. Child caretakers are common in families where the parents are affected by HIV/AIDS and other illnesses that might limit their parental functioning.
Developmentally, these child caretakers have shown certain positive associations that affect their future resilience in the face of adversity. Caring for disabled parents raises their sense of responsibility and maturity, increases social and life skills, fosters closer parent-child relationships, and enhances a child's early sense of purpose. Children caring for sick or disabled parents also experience less anxiety surrounding their parents compared to children who have an additional caregiver for their disabled parent. This is because the children understand more about the illness and feel more in control over the situation.
Childcare varies dramatically across cultures. These discrepancies are attributed to the homestead and household environments. That is, the type of work performed by adult caretakers in a given community strongly influence the type of childcare used. In agricultural/ horticultural societies where work is done to provide sustenance for the community, siblings and similar-aged children are responsible for younger children. While many global communities prefer children aged 7–10 for designated caregiving responsibilities, children no younger than 12 are preferred in the Western world where paid childcare is common.
Other factors of childcare that vary cross-culturally are the relative ages of both caretaker and child, parental expectations, demands of the child, culturally-varied conceptions of children's maturity, and factors affecting demographic makeup.
An important aspect that many center-based child cares have been trying to implement into their mission statement and everyday routine has been of being aware of the multiple cultures they will be dealing with. This was seen as being important because of the growing numbers of families considering and seeking childcare. Childcare has become an important aspect of society since, "Over thirteen million American children under 5 years of age experience some form of child care before entering formal school." Programs must understand similarities and differences between cultures/ ethnic groups. This must be done to understand the overall diversity of the community. Children should be able to have their cultural practices represented as well as be able to learn about other cultures they have not been exposed to. This is of great importance because it adds to their mental development and their understanding of the world.
In England, childcare is inspected and regulated by OFSTED (previously this was administered by Local Authority Social Services). Care for children under five is split into Childcare on Domestic Premises which is Childminding and Daycare. In the UK being a 'Childminder' is a protected title and can only be used by registered professionals. Registered Childminders are trained, insured and qualified in Pediatric First Aid. They comply/administer/work with The Early Years Foundation Stage EYFS and have the same responsibilities for education as nurseries and reception classes. They generally work from their own homes and are always self-employed setting their own terms and conditions. The basic numbers of children that childminders can care for is 6 children under 8 years of age; of these children, 3 may be under 5 and of these 1 may be under 1. These numbers include the childminder's own children (although the childminder's children will not be included in the childminding 'Certificate'). Some childminders work with either childminding assistants or with co-childminders, which often increases the number of children that can be cared for and individual childminders can request a 'variation' which may increase the children that they care for particularly for 'continuity of care' or for twins. There is a professional body – the Professional Association for Childcare & Early Years (formerly the National Childminding Association), which "Promotes and supports quality child-minding expertise" and provides information for Childminders and parents. London has greater pressures on childcare provision than other English regions. A recent study by London's Poverty Profile found the level of childcare provision in London is lower than the England average. In London, there are 4.4 children aged under 8 per childcare place, compared to the England average of 3.9.
Childcare costs in London significantly hinder the living standards of the capital's residents. A recent study by Loughborough University, funded by Trust for London, found the minimum budget required for a couple with two children to reach a decent standard of living is 22% more in Inner London and 21% more in Outer London than compared with the rest of the UK. The significantly higher costs of childcare influences this heavily, along with housing and transport.
In Scotland Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education is responsible for improving care and education for children from birth to age eighteen. This is implemented by inspections carried out by HMIE itself or by other members of inspection and review teams. Inspection reports include feedback from staff and parents as well as the inspectors, aiming to provide parents and carers information to help them decide whether a particular child care setting is providing good quality child care and meeting government standards.
Child care can be very costly in the United States. The average annual cost of full-time care for an infant in center-based care ranges from $4,863 in Mississippi to over $21,000 in parts of New York.
In 2001, more than one half of the children in the United States attended childcare facilities. This number has increased as the number of working parents has increased. The increase in the number of children that are required to have some sort of childcare service has made childcare facilities more necessary than they have ever been.
Childcare systems in France put great value into childcare providers having received a certain level of formal education in order to properly care for children. They have two separate branches of early childhood childcare. These two branches are called crèche and école maternelle. Crèche is the program for infants and toddlers and école maternelle is part of the education system. They both require teachers to have a college degree with an occasional specialized degree on top of that.
Many agricultural communities highly value sibling- and peer- caretaking. Accounts from the Idakho tribe in Kenya portray infants being left to the care and guidance of other relatively young children in the community with adults and other tribe members merely within shouting distance should a problem arise. The same pattern of caregiving is seen in the Kikuyu people in Kenya, where mothers in the horticultural society are often away working, which relies on siblings, cousins, and neighbors to care for children as young as 4 months old.
The children caregivers in many communities are deemed responsible to care for those younger than them and it is expected that they will do so. Adults are viewed as occasional supervisors of the caregiving while the caregivers are responsible for responding to the needs of each child. These young caregivers take pride in their responsibility and learn each child's individual likes, dislikes, and habits.
Effects on child development
There are many things to consider when parents enroll a child into a care center or other form of paid childcare, and there is much controversy surrounding the potential benefits and harm caused by this type of care. The parental decisions of leaving a child with someone and who that someone will be are two of the most difficult decisions in the lives of most parents. A parent must consider the safety and security of their children when making this decision. The development of a child has many factors, but it is most directly influenced by the type and quality of care that is most regularly provided to the child.
Child development researcher, Lian Tong, analysed the results from a Haley and Stansbury experiment saying, "Parent responsiveness also facilitates cognitive, social, and emotional development and reduces negative emotions in infants." That is, the amount of time that a parent or teacher is willing to spend teaching, listening to, playing with, and exploring with the child the more socially, emotionally, and educationally developed the child will become. Whether that child receives the majority of his or her care at a center or at its house, the biggest factor in deciding what will have the best effect on the child will be those willing to put in the time and effort it takes to properly develop a child's social, physical, and academic skills.
The quality of childcare given by a facility is generally indicated by the center's cost of enrollment. If the center charges more for the service, it will generally provide better care to the children. Centers that charge more for their services can provide quality education, more current resources, and nicer facilities. These are all helpful when trying to educate a child academically. A higher standard for teachers, such as requiring a degree in early childhood education or a degree of the like, has shown to result in improved growth in the development of a child.
Whether at an expensive facility or relatively inexpensive, children who attend daycare facilities tend to develop social skills more quickly than children of the same age group that are reared at home. They communicate better with children of the same age and often try harder to communicate with those that are younger than them, by using patience and taking different approaches at presenting the data. Surprisingly, a study done by Erik Dearing, has proven that negative social behavioral patterns are not directly connected to daycare. By studying a large selection of children from the Norwegian childcare system he concluded that the number of hours a child spends at a daycare and their behavior have no dependent relations. Though in America, children who attend childcare systems have a higher risk of externalizing the symptoms of negative social behavior, exhibiting these traits can directly correlate with their time spent in the center.
There are links between the income, education, and importance of consistency and the well being of the child, to the parents, and the development of their child. Higher educated parents place more importance on the education of their children than the parents who do not have a college degree or have not graduated from high school. Likewise, parents who have a higher income level are more willing to part with their money to purchase a private tutor or nanny to assist the parent in the education of their child. They also tend to stress the importance of being socially inept. The first few years of a child's life are important to form a basis for good education, morality, self-discipline and social integration. Consistency of approach, skills and qualifications of caregivers have been shown in many studies to improve the chances of a child reaching his or her full potential. Child care in much of western society is currently in crisis: there are not enough daycare spots, the cost for most parents is beyond their means, and child care staff are grossly underpaid. Starting wages for Early Childcare Educators start at $11 or $12, causing a high turnover rate, and decreases the likelihood of potentially safe, effective, and loving child care providers from even entering the field. For preschool teachers the average salary is about $28,570. According to a survey done by HiMama, 68% of for-profit child care organizations ranked 'Labor' as their top risk and 65% ranked 'Talent and Recruitment' as their top priority for 2017.
Care given by unpaid providers in an informal setting affect multiple developmental and psychological dimensions in children. Whether the providers are the child's siblings or a member of the family/community, research dictates this type of care influences factors such as sense achievement, affiliation, conformity, and individual interests.
More specifically, further research indicates that children being cared for by siblings or similarly-aged children (a trend more commonly seen in agriculturally-based cultural communities) have certain psychological and developmental effects on those being cared for. These effects include but are not limited to: mother-child attachment, emergence of childhood developmental stages, formation of playgroups, development of social responsibility, sex differences, personality differences, cognition, and motivation and performance in the classroom.
Childcare infection is the spread of infection during childcare, typically because of contact among children in daycare or school. This happens when groups of children meet in a childcare environment, and there is an individual with an infectious disease who may then spread it to the entire group. Commonly spread diseases include influenza-like illness and enteric illnesses, such as diarrhea among babies using diapers. Illnesses and diseases may also include ringworm, head lice, and hand, feet, mouth disease. It is uncertain how these diseases spread, but hand washing reduces some risk of transmission and increasing hygiene in other ways also reduces risk of infection.
Due to social pressure, parents of sick children in childcare may be willing to give unnecessary medical care to their children when advised to do so by childcare workers and even if it is against the advice of health care providers. In particular, children in childcare are more likely to take antibiotics than children outside of childcare.
Value of unpaid childcare
Caregivers nurture and develop their children into being functional members of society. For centuries it has been assumed that women will stay home and take care of the children while their husbands go out and work. In most cases, the husbands get all the credit for providing for the family. However, the homemaker deserves credit for care work. Caregivers do not receive monetary compensation and, because they spend a significant amount of time raising their children, must pay a 'care-penalty' (the opportunity costs in both time and money that one pays for doing care work for a family member). Instead of taking care of a family member, a caregiver could spend time working or performing leisure activities. Care penalties are not strictly related to childcare - they can also refer to taking care of a sick family member, babysitting a younger sibling, or taking an elderly family member on errands such as grocery shopping or doctor's appointments.
Studies have been done to get an annual salary estimate for a female caregiver. One survey suggested that the value of a mother's work, if she were paid the average wage for each task she performs in running the household and caring for her children, is $117,867 per year. The reason for the high salary is because mothers typically perform about 10 different job functions throughout the week. Some of these job functions are poorly paid, including cleaning, driving, caring for children, and washing laundry, but others, especially financial and managerial tasks that the survey equated with being the Chief Executive Officer of a company, are highly paid. Neither a nanny nor a housekeeper makes nearly as much money, and almost all of these tasks except direct child care also have to be done by non-parents. The value of unpaid childcare is also an important figure in various legal entities. Expert witnesses (most often economists) are occasionally brought into court cases to give estimates on the value of unpaid labor. By giving estimation, the plaintiff or defendant can be fairly compensated for their labor.
It is important to assess the value of caregivers because they are what truly make society function, and often their work is under-appreciated. They prepare the next generation for school, work, and decision-making. The way in which a child is nurtured at a young age and through adolescence has both psychological and developmental effects that effect their future. Not only does the child depend on caregiving, but schools and employers depend on the childcare. The government also benefits because these children turn into productive members of society. Eventually, they will be the ones running the country.
Developmental benefits are also seen for older siblings or relatives tasked to care for younger children. For example, children with siblings are more likely to exhibit prosocial behaviors (such as the ability to take another's perspective or sharing with others) than children without siblings. Additionally, sibling caretakers have the opportunity to develop deeper communication skills as they teach younger siblings to participate in everyday tasks.
According to Chris Knight, the first humans were few; then the population "exploded .... Population expansion on such a scale is inconsistent with female tolerance of infanticide, harassment, or the heavy costs to mothers of male philandering and double standards. If unusually large numbers of unusually large-brained offspring were being successfully raised to maturity, the quality of childcare must have been exceptional. We know what the optimal solution would have been. There can be no doubt that mothers would have done best by ... taking advantage of every available childcare resource."
Plato, according to Elaine Hoffman Baruch, around 394 B.C., argued that a system of child care would free women to participate in society. Among the early English authors to devote a book to child care in the modern sense was Elizabeth Dawbarn (The Rights of Infants, or... Nursing of Infants, 1805).
The first crèche was opened by Firmin Marbeau on 14 November 1844 in Paris, The Société des Crèches was recognized by the French government in 1869. Originating in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century, day cares were established in the United States by private charities in the 1850s, such as the Charity Organization Society founded by Ansley Wilcox. The Fitch Creche in Buffalo, New York was known as the first day center for working mothers in the United States. Another at that time was the New York Day Nursery in 1854.
Day care, daycare, child day care, or childcare is the care of a child during the day by a person other than the child's legal guardians, typically performed by someone outside the child's immediate family. Day care is typically an ongoing service during specific periods, such as the parents' time at work.
The service is known as day care or childcare in the United Kingdom, North America, and Australia and as crèche in Ireland and New Zealand. According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, child care in two words can in addition have the broader meaning of the care of a child by anyone, including the parents, but US dictionaries do not record that spelling or meaning. In English-speaking and other conservative countries, the vast majority of childcare is still performed by the parents, in-house nannies or through informal arrangements with relatives, neighbors or friends, but most children are in daycare centers for most of the day in Nordic Countries, for example. Child care in the child's own home is traditionally provided by a nanny or au pair, or by extended family members including grandparents, aunts and uncles. Child care is provided in nurseries or crèches or by a nanny or family child care provider caring for children in their own homes. It can also take on a more formal structure, with education, child development, discipline and even preschool education falling into the fold of services.
The day care industry is a continuum from personal parental care to large, regulated institutions. Some childminders care for children from several families at the same time, either in their own home (commonly known as "family day care" in Australia) or in a specialized child care facility. Some employers provide nursery provisions for their employees at or near the place of employment. For-profit day care corporations often exist where the market is sufficiently large or there are government subsidies. Research shows that not-for-profits are much more likely to produce the high quality environments in which children thrive." Local governments, often municipalities, may operate non-profit day care centers. For all providers, the largest expense is labor. Local legislation may regulate the operation of daycare centers, affecting staffing requirements. In Canada, the workforce is predominantly female (95%) and low paid, averaging only 60% of average workforce wage. Some jurisdictions require licensing or certification. Legislation may specify details of the physical facilities (washroom, eating, sleeping, lighting levels, etc.).
Independent studies suggest that good daycare is not harmful. In some cases, good daycare can provide different experiences than parental care does, especially when children reach two and are ready to interact with other children. Children in higher quality childcare had somewhat better language and cognitive development during the first 4½ years of life than those in lower quality care.
Learning stories are documents that are used by caregivers and educators in childcare settings. They use a storytelling format instead of a traditional 'observation' report to document the different ways that young children learn, and capture the moment in greater detail and provide parents with a greater insight into the events that occur in their child's time in childcare.
What they include
- Story of the child's progress
- Pictures of the experiences (Optional)
- The child's strengths, interests and needs
- Space for parent feedback 
Learning stories originate from New Zealand as they use a learning model in their curriculum called "Te Whaariki". It highlights children's learning outcomes as 'disposition' which are "situated learning strategies plus motivation-participation repertoires from which a learner recognize, selects, edits, responds to, resists, searches for and constructs learning opportunities" 
More contemporary proposals for government advancement of day care in the United States have experienced a checkered path, for example, in 1971, the Comprehensive Child Development Act was passed by Congress, but was vetoed by Richard Nixon. It "would have created nationally funded child care centers providing early childhood services and after-school care, as well as nutrition, counseling, and even medical and dental care. The centers would charge parents on a sliding scale." Various proposals have been considered, but to date, none leading to legislation that would establish a national policy supporting day care in the United States.
The day care industry is a continuum from personal parental care to large, regulated institutions.
The vast majority of childcare is still performed by the parents, in-house nanny or through informal arrangements with relatives, neighbors or friends. For example, in Canada, among two parent families with at least one working parent, 62% of parents handle the childcare themselves, 32% have other in-home care (nannies, relatives, neighbours or friends) and only 6.5% use a formal day care center.
However, for-profit day care corporations often exist where the market is sufficiently large or there are government subsidies. For instance, in North America, KinderCare Learning Centers, one of the largest of such companies, has approximately 1,600 centers located in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Bright Horizons Family Solutions another of the largest has over 600 daycare centers. Similarly the Australian government's childcare subsidy has allowed the creation of a large private-sector industry in that country.
Another factor favoring large corporate daycares is the existence of childcare facilities in the workplace. Large corporations will not handle this employee benefit directly themselves and will seek out large corporate providers to manage their corporate daycares. Most smaller, for-profit daycares operate out of a single location.
In general, the geographic limitations and the diversity in type of daycare providers make child daycare a highly fragmented industry. The largest providers own only a very small share of the market. This leads to frustration for parents who are attempting to find quality child daycare, with 87% of them describing the traditional search for child daycare as "difficult and frustrating".
The availability of child care, whether with other family members or professional care, affects the ability of parents to work. This includes both single parents and families where both parents need or want to earn money. Many governments in higher-income countries provide subsidies for child care programs for the benefit of low-income families or parents in general. In the United States, where few subsidies are provided, there is a political debate over whether universal child care services should be provided by the government. Related debates include those over universal preschool and paid family leave.
Standards and requirements
Some jurisdictions require licensing or certification. Parents may also turn to independent rating services, or rely on recommendations and referrals. Some places develop voluntary quality networks, for example in Australia most childcare services are part of a national Quality Assurance system. Some places require caregivers to take classes in pediatric CPR and first aid. Most countries have laws relating to childcare, which seek to keep children safe and prevent and punish child abuse. Such laws may add cost and complexity to childcare provision and may provide tools to help ensure quality childcare.
Additionally, legislation typically defines what constitutes daycare (e.g., so as to not regulate individual babysitters). It may specify details of the physical facilities (washroom, eating, sleeping, lighting levels, etc.). The minimum window space may be such that it precludes day cares from being in a basement. It may specify the minimum floor space per child (for example 2.8 square metres) and the maximum number of children per room (for example 24). It may mandate minimum outdoor time (for example 2 hours for programs 6 hours or longer). Legislation may mandate qualifications of supervisors. Staff typically do not require any qualifications but staff under the age of eighteen may require supervision. Some legislation also establishes rating systems, the number and condition of various toys, and documents to be maintained. Typically, once children reach the age of twelve, they are no longer covered by daycare legislation and programs for older children may not be regulated.
Legislation may mandate staffing ratios (for example, 6 weeks to 12 months, 1:4; 12 months to 18 months, 1:5; 18 months to 24 months, 1:9; etc.). The caregiver-to-child ratio is one factor indicative of quality of care. Ratios vary greatly by location and by daycare center. Potential consequences of a caregiver:child ratio which is too high could be very serious. However, many states allow a higher numbers of toddlers to caregivers and some centers do not comply consistently. For example, within the US: Pennsylvania, ages 1–3, 1 teacher to 5 children; Missouri: age 2, 1 teacher to 8 children; North Carolina: 1 teacher to 10 children.
Many organizations in the developed world campaign for free or subsidized childcare for all. Others campaign for tax breaks or allowances to provide parents a non-finance driven choice. Many of the free or subsidized childcare programs in the United States are also Child Development programs, or afterschool programs which hire certified teachers to teach the children while they are in their care. There are often local industry associations that lobby governments on childcare policy, promote the industry to the public or help parents choose the right daycare provider.
In the United States, childcare in regulated commercial or family childcare home setting is administered or led by teachers who may have a Child Development Associate or higher credentials. These higher credentials include Associate, Bachelor, and even master's degrees in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE). Although childcare professionals may obtain a degree, many states require that they attend workshops yearly to upgrade their knowledge and skill levels. Many day cares require a teacher to obtain a certain amount of training. For example, Texas requires a minimum of 25 hours a year, and the first year as a teacher, you are required to have 50 hours.
Australia has a large child care industry, however in many locations (especially in inner-city suburbs of large cities and in rural areas) the availability is limited and the waiting periods can be up to several years. The Australian government's Child Care Subsidy scheme provides generous assistance with child care costs, but this still leaves many families with a large out of pocket expense. The median weekly cost of centre-based long day care in 2013 was approximately A$364 which puts it out of the reach of lower income earners.
- 1:4 for infants,
- 1:5 for 2 – 3 years old (since 31/12/2015, when it was 1:8) and
- 1:11 for preschoolers (since 31/12/2015 when it was 1:10)
All childcare workers must have, or be undertaking, the minimum "Certificate III in Children's Services" in order to work in a centre (Recognition of Prior Learning is available to help qualify staff with many years experience, but no qualifications). (Common more advanced qualifications are "Diploma of Children's Services" and an Early Childhood Education degree).
Rules differ between states regarding family day care in Australia. To start a Family Day Care business in Victoria, an educator should be either having "Certificate III in Children's Services" or be actively working towards the same. Additionally, Current Police check, Current First Aid training, Insurance (specifically for family day care) is necessary for starting a family day care. The house should be safe for children. A group of 15 educators works under one Supervisor who must have a "Diploma in Children's Services".
Canada offers both private and subsidized daycare centers. Some shortages of subsidized openings can lengthen the time needed to find a suitable childcare provider. To counter this, government or private enterprise sometimes enable parents to look for available spaces online.
In Denmark day-cares accept children ranging from 6 months old to 3 years old. 91.2% of 1-2-year-old children are enrolled in different types of day-care institutions. Most of these are managed by a municipality and mostly government funded. The different types of institutions ranges from separate day-care institutions (Vuggestue), kindergartens with a day-care department (Integrerede institutioner) and in-home day-care (Dagpleje).
In Germany, preschool education is the domain of the Kindertagesstätte (literally "children's day site", often shortened to Kita or KITA), which is usually divided into the Kinderkrippe (crèche) for toddlers (age up to 3 years), and the Kindergarten for children who are older than three years and before school. Children in their last Kindergarten year may be grouped into a Vorschule ("preschool") and given special pedagogic attention; special preschool institutions comparable to the US-American kindergarten are the exception.
Kitas are typically run by public (i. e. communal) and "free" carriers (such as the churches, other religious organizations, social organizations with a background in the trade unions and profit-orientated corporations), and subsidized by the states (Länder). In this case, the care is open to the general public—e. g. a Protestant or Muslim child may claim a place in a Kita run by the catholic church.
Preschool education, unlike school and university, is not in the exclusive domain of the states. The federal government regulates daycare through the Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz (KJHG), which stipulates a legal claim to daycare:
- for children over the age of three and before school (i. e. Kindergarten; this law became effective in 1996);
- for children under the age of three and before Kindergarten (i. e. Kinderkrippe; this law becomes effective August 1, 2013).
Alternative daycare can be provided through Tagespflegepersonen (usually Tagesmütter, "day mothers"), i. e. stay-at-home parents which provide commercial day care to other children. This form of daycare is also federally regulated through the KJHG.
Preschool education (Frühpädagogik) is increasingly seen as an integral part of education as a whole; several states such as Bavaria have released detailed educational plans for daycare carriers who claim state subsidies. "Early pedagogics" has increasingly moved into the academic domain, with an increasing number of staff being trained at universities of applied science (Fachhochschulen) and regular universities. Non-academic personnel in daycare facilities have usually attended specialized schools for several years. In the state of Bavaria for example, daycare assistants (Kinderpfleger) will have attended school for two years, daycare teachers (Erzieher) for three years with an additional two-year internship.
In Japan, the child care industry is worth trillions of yen, and is expanding due to rising work force participation by mothers. In 2004 nearly 2 million children were in some form of day care. (Jetro)
In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa created a Social Program named "Programa de Estancias Infantiles" that included more than 8,000 daycare spaces for children between 1 and 3.11 years old. This program subsidizes mothers that work and study and also single fathers in a vulnerable situation. It has a great success having more than 125,000 children over the country. This is regulated by the Social Development Minister (Secretaría de Desarrollo Social).
Childcare has been on the rise in Mexico due to the increasing interest it has within the people and the effect it has on the government. This is due to the rise of urban areas in developing countries and the need to keep up with the economic development. There has always been many child care services available but due to the high costs, they were mainly unavailable for the low income families. Childcare became a hot topic of discussion when more women were joining the workforce and the debate of how this would affect how the children would be raised. Another topic of debate is how would the women pay for these expensive services while working minimum wage jobs or having limited times they could work, so the idea of subsidizes arose. In specific to the child, the topic of "street children", how and where children should grow up, was debated, and if they should be allowed to be considered part of the street instead of a particular home. This issue was of great debate because it not only affects the child but also the community the child is in, since they usually seek out public spaces for shelter, food and play. Childcare is generally broken into three general categories such as governmental institutions, religious organizations, and independent agencies (such as NGOS). All of these take on the same objectives which are "containment, paternalist cure approach and street education."
The creation of childcare programs in Mexico is quite different from others because it focuses on the "defeminization of labor and the defamilization of care." Female participation is a goal that the government has so it set in place many policies and modes to achieve this. The creation of a successful program of child care has been sought out and many different aspects have been changed over the years but it can be seen that there is an increase in early childhood education and care services (ECEC). ECEC services can be broken down into three different time periods and models which were implemented. The first would be in the 1970s when the Institute for Social Security focuses on covering children for mothers who were covered by Social Security services. This caused a huge gap in the children that could be covered due to the fairly large number of women working in the informal sector and being denied these services. The second stage would be in the early 200s when the Ministry of Public education made preschool mandatory for all children from ages 3 to 5. This was useful in theory because all of the children in this age range would be cared for, but in reality caused a strain in the amount of time that the parents had to go and work or dedicate their time elsewhere. The last stage would be in 2007 when the Ministry of Social Development created a childcare program in which was focuses on helping out children and mothers who were not covered by the social security services. This was successful since it targeted low income families specifically. For families to be eligible for this service the mothers had to be working or searching for a job, the income was taken into consideration in comparison to that of minimum wage, and that they did not have any other access to services. Women's participation in the workforce and be directly tied to the availability of childcare services and how it would affect their household.
The program that was created in 2007 became known as the Federal Daycare Programme for Working Mothers. This program allowed for subsidized home and community based childcare. The one running the care centers would only have to have a training component, which consisted of a psychological test and training courses to understand the principles of childcare, before being able to open their business in which they would be given money to furnish the facility as necessary for a safe caring center to be created. Another way this program was set into place was by subsidizing the care of non-profits, private for profits, or religious institutions who were based in the area of need.
Many children in Norway start daycare between 10 months and 3 years old. Funded parental leave for working parents is either 44 weeks with full pay, or 54 weeks with 80% pay (both up to a certain level only). The government guarantees daycare for all children that are at least 1 year old by 1 August. Coverage is still not 100%, but most regions are getting close (2011). There's a maximum price to enable all families to afford it.
Spain provides paid maternity leave of 16 weeks with 30-50% of mothers returning to work (most full-time) after this, thus babies 4 months of age tend to be placed in daycare centers. Adult-infant ratios are about 1:7-8 first year and 1:16-18 second year. Public preschool education is provided for most children aged 3–5 years in "Infantil" schools which also provide primary school education.
The UK has a wide range of childcare options, including childminders, day nurseries, playgroups and pre-school education at school. It is regulated by OFSTED (CSSIW in Wales), which operates the application and inspection process for the sector.
Childcare is primarily funded by parents, however the Single Funding Formula (pre-school funding) can be used at some day nurseries, playgroups and schools for a maximum of 5 sessions per week, after a child reaches 3 years. The government introduced a childcare allowance (vouchers) by which employers could make payments for childcare, prior to tax, on employees' wages.
Median rates (2011) are approximately £4.50 per hour for childminders, £7:5-£10 net per hour for nannies, £60-100 per week for au pairs and £35-£50 per day for day nurseries.
State legislation may regulate the number and ages of children allowed before the home is considered an official daycare program and subject to more stringent safety regulations. Often the nationally recognized Child Development Associate credential is the minimum standard for the individual leading this home care program. Each state has different regulations for teacher requirements. In some states, teachers must have an associate degree in child development. States with quality standards built into their licensing programs may have higher requirements for support staff such as teacher assistants. And in Head Start programs, by 2012, all lead teachers must have a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. States vary in the standards set for daycare providers, such as teacher to child ratios.
Family childcare can also be nationally accredited by the National Association of Family Childcare if the provider chooses to go through the process. National accreditation is only awarded to those programs who demonstrate the quality standards set forth by the NAFCC.
According to the 1995 U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), over thirty-six percent of families of preschoolers with working mothers primarily relied on childcare in the home of a relative, family daycare provider or other non-relative. Almost twenty-six percent of families used organized childcare facilities as their primary arrangement.
Child care can cost up to $15,000 for one year in the United States. The average annual cost of full-time care for an infant in center-based care ranges from $4,863 in Mississippi to $16,430 in Massachusetts.
Independent studies suggest that good daycare for non-infants is not harmful. In some cases, good daycare can provide different experiences than parental care does, especially when children reach two and are ready to interact with other children. Bad daycare puts the child at physical, emotional and attachment risk. Higher quality care was associated with better outcomes. Children in higher quality childcare had somewhat better language and cognitive development during the first 4½ years of life than those in lower quality care. They were also somewhat more cooperative than those who experienced lower quality care during the first 3 years of life.
The National Institute of Health released a study in March, 2007 after following a group of children through early childhood to the 6th grade. The study found that the children who received a higher quality of childcare scored higher on 5th grade vocabulary tests than the children who had attended childcare of a lower quality. The study also reported that teachers found children from childcare to be "disobedient", fight more frequently, and more argumentative. The study reported the increases in both aggression and vocabulary were small. "The researchers emphasized that the children's behavior was within the normal range and were not considered clinically disordered."
As a matter of social policy, consistent, good daycare, may ensure adequate early childhood education for children of less skilled parents. From a parental perspective, good daycare can complement good parenting.
A 2001 report showed that children in high-quality care scored higher on tests of language, memory and other skills than did children of stay-at-home mothers or children in lower-quality day care.
A study appearing in Child Development in July/August 2003 found that the amount of time spent in daycare before four-and-a-half tended to correspond with the child's tendency to be less likely to get along with others, to be disobedient, and to be aggressive, although still within the normal range.
- Adult daycare center
- After-school activity
- Day care sexual abuse hysteria
- Ladies' Deborah and Child's Protectory
- Day care
- Corporate child care
- Parental leave
- Magda Gerber
- Au pair
- Nursery school
- Forest kindergarten
- Child development
- Forgotten baby syndrome
- Work-family balance in the United States
- Cost of raising a child
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