The first big decision facing you is the type of care you want for your child. Perhaps the hominess of a family child care home appeals to you, or the chance for socialization in a child care center. Each form of care has something to offer your family.
Child Care Centers
Opting for care in a child care center means that your child will be in a group setting outside of your home. Center-based programs generally care for larger numbers of children and children are usually grouped by age. Most centers are licensed by the state and are restricted by regulations that govern the number of children they are allowed to serve, the ratio of adults to children, and the educational qualifications of the caregivers. If the center is accredited, it has gone through a rigorous examination and meets higher standards set by national organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
There is a correlation between the education and experience levels of the director and teaching staff and the quality of child care provided. Be sure to ask about the qualifications of the teachers and director in the centers you visit.
To review Texas licensing standards for child care including staff-to-child ratios, visit Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Family Child Care Homes
These are child care programs run by one or two providers in their own home. Some families prefer family homes for infants and young children because it offers a homey environment with a small-group, mixed-age setting. Family child care homes may also offer:
- Flexible and/or Part-time schedule options
- Option to allow siblings to stay together
When looking for a family child care provider, it's important to be comfortable with the home, the children, and the caregiver. Be sure to look at the activities the children are doing, see how the children fit in with the rest of the family and check out the space the children have to play in.
Texas requires a home provider caring for 4 or more children to be registered. They are also required to annually obtain training in the early childhood field. To learn more about standards family home providers must maintain such as training hours and provider-to-child ratios go to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
If the family child care home is accredited, it has gone through a rigorous examination and meets higher standards set by national organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).