There are distinct differences between home-based daycare, offered by a private individual, versus daycare centers. Determining which environment is best for your child can be difficult – especially because each has their own benefits and disadvantages. While you are shopping around for a new daycare facility, you will want to explore both options and also get to know the main differences so that you can better assess which care environment suits your child’s needs, as well as your own care expectations.Home-based daycare typically has:

  • Less children –typically fewer than 12
  • One to four caregivers present
  • Smaller facility that is more home-like
  • Mixed age groups (ranging from birth to as old as 13)

Child care facilities typically have:

  • Larger staff – as many as 30 or more people
  • Larger facilities, often with more of an institutionalized feel to them
  • More children – anywhere from 20 to more than 150
  • Separated age groups and classrooms so that older children are not mixed with younger children

Highlighting these differences is not meant to promote one type of daycare over another. Instead, what is most important when deciding on your child’s daycare is what you think is best for them – and which type more closely aligns with your parenting philosophies. To help you think more in-depth about how these differences will affect your child’s care and day to day experience, consider the following pros and cons of each.

What are the pros and cons of home-based child care?

  • Pro: It offers your child a home-like environment, which may make it easier for them to adjust away from your own home.
  • Pro: Children establish a closer bond with their caregiver and are typically cared for by the same person every single day.
  • Pro: There are fewer cases of illnesses because the child is exposed to less children, and the daycare provider is able to better monitor illnesses.
  • Pro: There is a mixed age group which allows children to mingle, adjust to other groups, and even prepare for siblings, if that’s your plan.
  • Pro: Better caregiver to child ratios.
  • Pro: Often more affordable than a daycare facility and more flexible to your care needs.
  • Con: Less educated teachers and fewer curriculums during their care.
  • Con: Child may have more exposure to television.
  • Con: A sole caregiver means limited supervision - so you will need to trust the caregiver explicitly.

What are the pros and cons of daycare facilities?

  • Pro: More trained and educated care providers present.
  • Pro: A structured, school-like environment rich in school-ready curriculums.
  • Pro: Opportunities to socialize more with children, though only within the same age group.
  • Pro: Use of technology, such as iPads, computers, etc.
  • Pro: A secured entrance and possibly in-class video surveillance.
  • Pro: Substitute teachers available – so if one caregiver is sick, you do not have to worry about being without child care that day.
  • Con: Higher turnover rates, which means it is less likely your child will establish a close bond with the caregiver – especially if they have multiple caregivers on site.
  • Con: Less flexible to your schedule and may have rigid requirements for care.
  • Con: Much higher tuition rates.
  • Con: Higher potential your child will contract an illness while under their care.
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