Apples to Oranges – child care that fits your family

Why a homedaycare?

Home daycare, Home based care, also known as Family daycare, is exactly what it sounds like — daycare in a home instead of a centre. This arrangement has been around as long as women have had neighbours and friends nearby to help care for their kids. Today it’s a way for many parents who prefer to stay at home and who truly enjoy taking care of children to do work they love and contribute to the family finances at the same time.
A family finances survey conducted in 2009, shows that 18.9 per cent of Canadian families surveyed rely on this form of childcare. (Baby Centre Canada)

But why choose a home daycare?
Family care takes place in a home setting. It appeals to many families because if offers a familiar, home away from home environment. Children are typically treated like members of an extended family, meals are eaten together, family style, in the home’s kitchen or family eating area. Because there are a small number of children in care, they can make group trips out to local kid friendly spaces, drop-in centres, libraries, and parks. Little ones can be included in family activities, trips to the market, berry-picking, swimming lessons, visits to a beach, gardening, etc.

Small Groups and Focused care
The small group with one primary caregiver allows children to develop a secure attachment with an adult other then their parents, integral to the healthy social and emotional development of all young children. In particular, parents may feel more comfortable leaving their infant in a home setting where a single care provider can foster a caring relationship in a loving environment enabling the child to develop feelings of trust.

“Secure attachments form when the caregiver can accurately read the baby’s cues and meet the child’s needs. The child then responds with trust and interest. Caring adults are essential to a baby’s or young child’s development, especially social-emotional development. Since many children spend much of their day in child care settings, it’s important for attachment relationships to include adults other than just parents. Children can love and become attached to more than one adult. Children thrive in environments that foster attachment through consistent and loving care.”

Flexible, Convenient, and Close to Home
Home based daycare offers flexibility and convenience that often cannot be found in more institutional settings. Homecare may be located on your street, around the corner, or next to your local park. The home based care provider will likely visit the same kid friendly spaces you visit with your child when you are together. The environments remain familiar and close to home; It is a wonderful experience to have your preschooler teach you about the community in which you are living–a community garden or cherry tree you would have never known about had your child not visited with their caregiver. Additionally, home care may be available extra early or late so that working parents can transfer a sleeping child into their home away from home, or be provided with a full family breakfast or dinner well beyond the hours of a preschool. Home daycare providers may also provide help with transportation, walking young children to or from community centres, classes, preschool, or kindergarten. Meeting you at your office, or dropping your child home at the end of the day.

Lifestyle and Health Considerations
Many home daycares offer specialized menus or programming based on a particular lifestyle or health consideration. In large centres, like Toronto, there are home based caregivers offering a variety of choices: Menus that are gluten/dairy free; Organic; providing a Paleo based diet or vegan option. Caregivers who specialize in caring for children with special needs, children with diabetes; or children who have speech and language challenges; they may offer second and third integrated and emergent language options; sign language; or provide Yoga, arts, or sports programming.  They will range in parenting philosophies, perhaps drawing on Attachment or Positive Parenting styles or they may offer sleep guidance/training. The special skills and offerings of your provider can be many and varied, a home based provider can emphasize your values or provide and an entry point into a an experience or perspective you desire for your child(ren). Take time to consider what you want in your child’s caregiver and meet with some home based providers in your community to find what will work for and with your family.

Experience and Understanding
Home day care providers come from a variety of back grounds, levels of training, and experience. It is up to each family to find a fit that is right for them, but often, caregivers have gone the extra step to ensure that their home is safe, their knowledge of health, safety, and first aid is up-to-date, and that they have been trained in or posses expertise in fields other then childcare. Private Family Care providers in Ontario are not required to be inspected or obtain a specialized licence prior to providing care, however  they must adhere to the regulations set out in the Day Nurseies Act and are regulated by Ontario’s Ministry of Education. Operators of licensed day nurseries (Daycare Centres) and private home day care agencies are required to achieve and maintain compliance with the standards set out in Ontario Regulation 262 under the Day Nurseries Act at all times.

Understanding in Personal relationships
Typically a home day care will have low turn over, your child will grow up with a cohort of similarly aged children or a social group that remains in contact beyond the childcare relationship. Children, parents, and the caregiver can develop a trusting and well developed relationship enabling them to work together and be united in their approach when helping children move through transitions in their development, such as potty training, behaviour, literacy and early education. It also means that the care provider can respond to the particular change in your child’s life or circumstances, divorce, separation, loss, new home, change in job, birth of a baby, are all significant changes and can effect children and their families in many ways. Because of the close relationship present in a home childcare setting, there can be an understanding and responsivness present in the interactions with a home based care giver that may not be found in a childcare centre.

Cost is always a consideration when looking at childcare options. Home based care providers may offer more flexibility to parent who would like to save on the costs of diapering, or would like to contribute to snacks or meals with groceries or cooking, or may only require part-time care. Home daycare is typically no more expensive then care offered in a centre and depending on where you live and the age of your children when paired with other fees in a centre home care will often cost much less, or offer a better fit with your needs.

Networking and Community Support
Finally, in home care providers often have a strong network of early childhood reasourses at their fingertips. Any concerns that parents might have about the socialization of older children in a “preschool” setting can be adressed with visits to local literacy centres, early childhood education centres and meetups with other homebased care providers. Caregivers will often join networks to brainstorm and  share ideas with other providers, share activities, and create social events for the little people in their care. They will have access to many of the community’s resources, education access points, social services, events, and will often have insight in to strategies for accessing those resources and taking full advantage of what your community has to offer children and families.



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