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Child Care

By

Steven D. Blatt

, MD, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University

Reviewed/Revised Dec 2023
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION

In the United States, a majority of children receive child care from adults other than their parents and/or outside the home before they first start school. Many children aged 5 to 12 also receive care outside the home before or after the school day.

Sources of outside care include

  • Informal in-home child care by a relative, friend, neighbor, babysitter, or nanny

  • Family child care homes, also called family day care (group child care in a private home)

  • Child care centers

  • Educational prekindergarten programs

  • School-age child care and camp programs

Child care centers can be licensed, accredited, or both. A licensed center has met that particular state's minimum licensing requirements for child care. Accreditation usually requires that the center meet higher standards than those required for licensing. Some local governments offer certification or registration regarding health and safety standards for home-based child care programs. Information about licensing, accreditation, and other standards is available to families.

Care outside of the home varies in quality. Some care is excellent, some is poor. Care outside of the home can also have benefits. Children who are in quality group child care can benefit from social and academic stimulation.

Did You Know...

  • Most preschool children receive care outside the home.

  • Child care outside the home can provide benefits such as social interaction, physical and other activities, and opportunities to develop independence.

Benefits of care outside the home

Group play stimulates social development.

Vigorous indoor or outdoor play and exercise help physical fitness and can dissipate pent-up physical energy.

Programs with early exposure to music, books, art, and language stimulate a child's intellectual and creative development.

Programs that allow children opportunities to initiate their own activities may help children develop independence.

Some programs provide nutritious meals or snacks.

There are many resources available through local and national organizations that can help parents assess the quality and safety of child care settings. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports materials provided at the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education web site, which include checklists about good child care environments.

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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