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JANE'S PLACE
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Parent Resources

Family Childcare: Another Alternative
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One of the major benefits family childcare offers that center-based care simply cannot is a small group. Ontario law mandates that a family childcare provider can have no more than 5 children in her care at any one time. (This does not include her own children under the age of twelve) Any parent of a young child knows that the fewer people their child is exposed to--the less likely they are to become ill. Center-based care may offer separate rooms for different age groups, but the fact of the matter is, that when large numbers of people--children as well as their parents--walk through a center's doors, as many as 100 people each day could be bringing their cold and flu symptoms into that environment! Factor in all of the center's employees and the potential for exposure to illness seems staggering.

More and more often, parents are choosing family child care because they know that increased time and attention can be tailor-made for their children. It allows small groupings in an atmosphere resembling their own homes, and its flexible scheduling adapts to each family’s individual needs. Because providers must adhere to Day Nursery Act guidelines, they can offer loving care without having to sacrifice the quality of their programs. Due to the low ratio of children in each program to begin with, and the even lower number of infants allowed, parents can really appreciate the individualized attention that is offered in these homes, and know that what is being offered really is serving their child's best interests.

Another major benefit that center-based care can't match is the consistency of the caregiver. In centers--where minimum wages are the industry standard--it can be detrimental for a child to become attached to their caregiver and then have that employee leave for "greener pastures." Children have to go through the trauma of dealing with feelings of abandonment and then re-establish a trust relationship with a new caregiver. This cycle is repeated time and time again in day care centers during the child's formative years. Alternatively, if your child spends more than 8 hours a day in a center, as most children of working parents do, he or she will be handed off to different caregivers throughout the course of each day. (Centers do not allow their employees to work overtime, so two full time shifts or three part time shifts are used for their normal 12-14 hour business day.) In contrast, since the family childcare provider runs a business from her home, parents can rest assured that their child can go from infancy to kindergarten with the same caregiver.

How can parents find quality family childcare? Just as you would ask your friends and acquaintances for personal referrals when looking for a new doctor or dentist--that's the best way to seek out good family childcare as well. Most providers credit the bulk of their business to word-of-mouth personal referrals, as well as referrals obtained through professional organizations or corporate networks.



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