Childcare is also known by several other names including preschool, daycare, child minding, or child care. Child care refers to the process of providing care and supervision of children, normally from the age of one and a half months to 13 years. This process can be done by babysitters, daycare centers, or other kinds of care providers. Childcare has become a profession that employs many people and allows parents to take care of other kinds of businesses.
In as much as the word child minding sounds shallow, there is a wide variety of activities, institutions, contexts, cultural conventions, and social conventions covered by the term. Today, different names are used to refer to the many facilities that provide care to children. Major examples include in-home care, licensed home day care also called family child care, center-based care, and informal care. Parents and legal guardians take responsibility of children in many societies.
In western societies, working parents are normally left with two options of how to care for their children. The two options are either leaving the child in home-based care or center-based care. In some situations, it is possible for the extended family to provide care. If the option of legal guardians, parents, or extended family is not available, the child usually remains in orphanages or foster homes.
Licensed home day care also goes by the name family child care. It refers to the kind of care that is provided in the home of the caregiver. Usually the caregiver is licensed and regulated. Family child cares have a small size of children to care for and offer similar security as day care centers. However, they offer the benefits of lower costs, ease of accessibility, cultural compatibility, and flexibility in hours.
Home-based care providers individualize their care a lot. This way, they often meet the needs and expectations of most working families. This form of childcare is very affordable compared to the others. The small number of children cared for in home-based care allows for more child-caregiver interaction than in other facilities, especially commercial ones.
In-home care makes another form of child minding. Care in this case is offered by friends, family members, nannies. The child may be supervised and cared in homes or in the homes of the caregiver. Thus, exposure to illness and outside children is limited. A strong bond develops between the child and the caregiver due to close interaction.
In-home care is not regulated by the government, which implies that the caregiver does not have to be licensed. Also, there are no background checks run on the caregiver to ascertain their suitability for the job. As such, it is upon the parent of the child to select the right caregiver. The cost per child of this form of care is the highest.
One can hire a caregiver from any of the many nanny or au pair services. The nannies have training in childcare. As such, they ensure that the child gets a safe and stimulating environment they need to grow well. Nannies also do several house chores such as cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and shopping.