Private Vs. Public Child Care: The Loaded Decision

Published: 05th July 2010
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Parents faced with choosing a daycare for their child have a wide variety of locations available to them for placement. Sometimes the most difficult choice is whether to go with a private, in-home daycare or a public daycare. There are pros and cons to each option and ultimately only a parent knows the child well enough to make the correct decision.

Private Daycare

Private daycare typically has the advantage of a smaller student-teacher ratio. Normally, a mother who is staying home with her own child will take in more children to care for to supplement the family's income. The benefit is more attention and a closer bond between provider and child. Unfortunately, this can also be detrimental if the provider shows favoritism to her own child.

Most states require the private home daycare to be licensed before any services can be provided. Rigorous checks of food preparation, toy safety and a safe environment are conducted. If a private daycare is an option being considered it is best to make sure that it has a current state-operating license.

Private daycares are usually less expensive than public daycares and have longer, more varied hours. A parent who works the night shift will have an extremely difficult time finding public daycare that is willing to watch a child overnight. Holiday schedules can also be different and more flexible than in a public facility. Check with the potential private daycare provider about their holiday hours.

One challenge of private daycare is the potential for unexpected days when it is closed. Normally, this occurs because the teacher is ill. If the parents' jobs are flexible and willing to allow the employee to take the day off with little to no notice it may not be such a factor. However, if having the daycare suddenly closed would be detrimental to a parent's job, it may be worth considering the public option.

Public Daycare

With a higher student-teacher ratio, public daycares sometimes get put down for not providing enough individualized attention. States mandate the minimum student-teacher ratio from six weeks old through high school and public daycares are required to disclose and follow those guidelines. Although the interaction may not be 1:1, students typically receive the same love and care as in a smaller daycare setting. Parents may actually prefer that there is another adult or teacher's aide in the classroom at all times.

There are some benefits in choosing a public daycare that are not found in most private, in-home daycares. Some of those benefits may include the following: increased socialization with other children, newer toys and equipment, and reliable, set hours. These benefits typically make for a safer, more stable environment.

With the benefits of public daycare comes the major con to this option. Typically, a public daycare is much more expensive than a private home daycare. With weekly full-time tuition in the hundreds of dollars for most well known public daycares, the cost alone can be prohibitive. Although there may be state subsidies available not all families qualify for such credit. It often requires that parents weigh the cost of tuition vs. the cost of working outside the home.

Whatever option parents decide on, the most important thing is that the child is in a safe, loving environment. Whether that environment is found in a private or public daycare is truly a personal choice. Parents should trust their instincts about a daycare and make the decision that is most beneficial for their family.

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