Today, more than 12 million children younger than age five are in some form of child care in the US and most of these children go to family child care homes, not day care centers.
What is family child care? Simply put, it is child care that is offered in the provider's home. Quality providers are entrepreneurs who take pride in their small businesses and continually challenge themselves to remain at the leading edge of the child care profession.
Many parents choose home settings for their children because they recognize that such settings have several important benefits. They are often conveniently located; they can accommodate siblings of different ages; and they generally consist of small groups of children that allow for individual attention and a calmer atmosphere. Perhaps the most important reason why parents like family child care; however, is that they can depend on reliable and consistent care from one provider.
How can parents find quality family child care? Just as you would ask your friends and acquaintances for personal referrals when looking for a new doctor or home decorator-that's the best way to seek out good family child care as well. Most providers credit the bulk of their business to word-of-mouth personal referrals, as well as referrals obtained through professional organizations.
How can parents distinguish between a quality provider and a babysitter? Look for affiliations with one or more programs like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Some other organizations that providers may be affiliated with are the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Memberships in associations such as these show a commitment to offering the best quality of child care possible.
While finding an exceptional provider may seem like a daunting task, rest assured that we do exist! The search is well worth the effort--after all, don't your children deserve the very best?