June 18th, 2024

Child Care Chatter: Picking the right child care program

By Medicine Hat News on June 29, 2018.

How do you know which kind of child care program is the right one for you?

Choosing a child care program can be a challenging task for many parents. It can be especially hard when you are going back to work after maternity leave as the spaces are even more limited for children 18 months and younger.

One thing you will want to think about is if you want your child in a licensed child care centre or if you would prefer an approved day home setting (one that is with a day home agency).

Child care centres are usually larger than day homes, with multiple early childhood educators and, sometimes, multiple rooms. The number of children in a child care centre room depends on the size of the room and the ages of the children. For the most part, there will be more children in a child care centre room than a day home has. However, there will also be more than one educator in the room at a time. Day homes are smaller, being that they are located within the educator’s own home. The educator is allowed to have only six children 0-12 years, including their own, in their home at any one time.

Having more than one educator available in the room means that families using child care centres are still OK bringing their child even if an educator is sick. The child care centre will have a substitute educator fill in.

Many, but not all, child care centres separate the children according to their ages. Day homes usually have family age grouping, meaning that there is a range of ages within the home. This allows children to act as “siblings” to one another. The older children begin to help the little ones.

In terms of scheduling and parents working alternative hours, child care centres are stuck on the hours of operation they have. For example, they may be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Day homes, on the other hand, may provide care on the weekends and in the evenings if they choose. During the summer months, child care centres can take children only up to kindergarten age. If your child is getting older, you will need to find an out-of-school care program that runs through the summer (fortunately, some child care centres operate their own programs like this or they may offer summer camps). Day homes can take children up to 12 years of age as long as they have the space you need during the summer.

In terms of programming, both child care centres and day home educators do a great job providing developmentally appropriate play-based environments for young children. Sometimes, child care centres may be able to offer additional activities such as music, yoga or sign language.

Overall, it is all about what works best for you and your child. Considering all of these ideas will help you make a decision. For more information, visit our website at http://www.mhdcca.com. There is a list of our association members which includes locations, ages of children served and hours of operation. A great place to start your search for a quality early learning and child care program for your little one!

Jennifer Usher is the coordinator of the Medicine Hat & District Child Care Association (www.mhdcca.com).

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