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Childcare Center vs. Home-based Family Childcare

Which is the right choice for your family’s needs?

Family childcare providers typically have:

  • 1 to 4 caregivers/teachers
  • smaller facilities with a home-like environment, many in-home daycare.
  • fewer children (typically 3 to 12 children)
  • mixed age groups with children of different ages

Childcare centers typically have:

  • larger staff (lots of caregivers/teachers, as high as 30+)
  • larger facilities with a more institutionalized feel
  • many more children (anywhere from around 20 to 150 or more)
  • separate age groups, i.e. all babies are together in 1 group, all preschoolers are together in another, etc.

The benefits/advantages of a home-based childcare program include:

  • a home-like environment
  • a closer teacher to child bond since the caregiver often cares for the child the entire day
  • fewer cases of illnesses since the child is exposed to fewer children
  • mixed age groups allowing for more sibling interaction
  • better teacher to child ratios since there are fewer children per teacher
  • a more flexible caregiver who is accommodating to your needs (i.e. a more flexible vacation policy, more likely to allow for a flexible schedule, etc.)
  • lower tuition rates (usually)
  • a caregiver who often becomes part of the family

The benefits/advantages of attending a center-based child care program typically include:

  • potentially better educated/trained caregivers (although not always)
  • a more structured schedule and school-like environment, especially beneficial for older preschoolers in preparation for kindergarten
  • more likely to have an educationally enriched curriculum that encourages literacy, language development, social and emotional development
  • opportunities to socialize with more children and teachers
  • substitute teachers, so should the caregiver become ill, someone else will fill in
  • enrichment activity opportunities like soccer, dance, music or foreign language classes are common
  • the use of technology (i.e. computers, ipads, and smartboards) to assist learning (not as common in homes)
  • better secured entrance and possibly in-class video cameras for surveillance

The potential downsides/disadvantages of home-based childcare include:

  • a backup assistant may not be available when provider is sick or unable to provide care for the day.
  • possibly more exposure to television
  • sole caregiver with little supervision, so trust is essential
  • video cameras for surveillance may not be available.

The potential downsides/disadvantages of childcare centers include:

  • different people caring for your children due to shifts and high staff turnover rates. Your child is less likely to form a deep bond with the caregivers
  • less flexible policies about sick leave, vacation, etc.
  • potential to be exposed to a rigid academic curriculum which may be developmentally inappropriate and could discourage future success
  • higher tuition rates (usually)

What’s best for your child?

To find excellent day care for your child, you must first try and figure out what type of daycare you are looking for. Are you looking for a large facility with many children, or a smaller, at-home daycare with fewer kids? Are you looking for a play-based atmosphere or one with an educational curriculum added?

Location can also be a factor in your decision – should you choose something closer to work or closer to home?

Do your research!  Contact a local childcare resource center for a complete list of licensed daycares, with phone numbers and possible availabilities. Check out a potential daycare’s website or Facebook page, and see if one sparks your interest. Many daycare websites show photos of their facilities and how kids interact in their surroundings, which will give you an idea of what the daycare is about.

Ask other parents.

Visit the daycare and ask LOTS of questions!

Family childcare providers and child care centers can both offer poor and high-quality childcare, and each type of care has its advantages and disadvantages. Since every family is different, you must decide on which type of care is best for your child. Regardless of whether you go with a home daycare or a child care center, look for a high-quality program that is licensed, has low teacher-to-child ratios, offers a developmentally appropriate curriculum, and has trained and experienced caregivers who will be invested in your child.

Take a look at some of the advantages

of choosing Blueberry Daycare

(A Home-Based Family Daycare)

  • Highly educated and an experienced nurturing provider (provider is a NYS certified k-6th grade teacher, has a Master’s Degree in Childhood Education)
  • NYS licensed
  • Children engaged in fun learning activities
  • Low provider-to-child ratio
  • Affordable rates
  • Individualized attention
  • Fun, educational, nurturing
  • Safe environment (home security system in place)



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