Before you start your own daycare, it is important to understand the meaning of childcare and the different types of childcare services available in the market. In general, childcare is the care of a child by a person outside the child's immediate family.
Childcare needs are met in many ways but generally fall into these three categories: Care in the child's home; care in a regulated childcare center; and care in the provider's home.
Care in a regulated childcare center
Regulated childcare centers are institutions that are bound to strict rules or legislations mandated by a government body. These rules or legislations exist to protect the safety and welfare of the children enrolled in these centers. Rules in relation to security, area per child, health, staff to children ratios (e.g. 1 teacher per 3 children), food handling, behavior management, and programming are just a few of the areas that a regulated daycare must adhere to. Without adherence to these rules, daycare centers will not receive a license to operate the childcare business. In addition, rules vary for each state or province. Therefore, it is important to refer to your state's or province's childcare government body responsible for licensing requirements.
Licensed childcare centers are also required to run structured programming for the children. A structured program consists of age-appropriate activities that develop the child's skills. In general, the selection of age-appropriate activities follows the center's learning philosophy such as Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, etc. However, regardless of which learning philosophy the center adapts, age-appropriate learning activities are meant to develop the child's cognitive, gross-motor, fine-motor and other types of skills, with the goal of achieving specific developmental milestones.
Licensed childcare centers can be located in office buildings, commercial retail pads, stand-alone buildings, houses or in schools. In most cases, they operate between 7AM to 6PM and may employ several teachers to run the program.
Care in the Provider's Home
Care in the provider's home are generally called Home Daycare, Family Daycare, or Day Home. A home daycare can be licensed or unlicensed. In general, licensing is required if the number of children cared for in the provider's home grows to more than the maximum specified by law. For instance, in some areas, you can only care for up to 5 children (including your own children) without a license. Anything over that, you must get a license to operate the childcare business. Home daycare licensing requirements also vary for each state or province. Again, refer to your state or provincial government body responsible for childcare licensing.
Care in the Child's Home
Childcare in the child's home is typically provided by babysitters or nannies. Babysitting is the occasional temporary care of a child during the absence of the parent. Babysitters, in general, can work for more than one family and are often called upon during emergencies (e.g. parent has to attend an emergency meeting for a few hours).
In contrast, a nanny typically just works for one family and has a fixed schedule. They can be classified as live-in nannies or live-out nannies. Live-in nannies will live in the child's home, while live-out nannies do not.
Unlike regulated childcare centers or licensed home daycare centers, babysitters or nannies do not usually provide any form of structured programming.
You must be comfortable that you can trust the Childcare Centre to be your child's minder, caretaker and teacher for possibly the next few years. Think beyond the age your child is today and be convinced that this childcare centre will take your child's learning to their full potential over the next two to three years.