So many times over the past 19 years, I have heard people talk about childcare centers being a better environment for kids than family childcare homes. The general consensus is that centers “teach” the kids more than homes do, the environment is higher quality, and that home daycare is not as regulated as childcare centers. That is simply not the case.
Think about how the family unit was designed. A mom has multiple children of varying ages. And those children learn many skills as they grow. In a family the younger kids teach the older kids how to nurture and care. Mom nurtures the child, but the older siblings do as well. Older children also learn patience and empathy from being with their younger siblings. Younger kids learn social, emotional, physical, and mental skills from their older siblings. In a childcare center, children are herded into rooms divided by age. This allows children to lose one of the most valuable parts of the family design.
Home daycare has smaller groups of children in care. The teacher to child ratio is lower giving more opportunities for one on one attention for each child. Nurturing and individualized care are vital for the emotional development of children. Home daycare provides more personalized care. Home daycare providers are more likely to share with you how your child’s day was and what is going on with them at daycare. The home provider is more likely to truly love and care about your kids.
What will happen if your home provider is ill? I generally work sick because I know that my parents depend on me to be reliable. There are a few instances when I cannot, but over the course of 19 years, it has been about 5 days. I am pretty reliable. At a center with more kids, children are exposed to more illnesses which causes parents to have to miss more time from work caring for a sick child.
People assume that centers are more highly regulated, but in the state of Oklahoma, home daycares are regulated heavily and required to have ample training as well. We have the same number of visits from DHS as centers do and are held to very high standards.
Centers have more employee turnover than homes. Children have to transition from one provider at the beginning of the day to another toward the end. Employees can quit leaving children attached and missing their provider. In a home setting, the same person will be with your child day in and day out from the beginning of the day through the end. Homes offer a child a comfortable familiar kind of place to learn and grow rather than a hard school type environment.
Many people think that centers provide more structure, teaching, and opportunities for children. I run a very structured family child care home and teach my children a myriad of amazing things to prepare them for their academic future.
I have grown weary of people thinking that home daycare is just a bunch of women who sit on the couch and watch TV all day while the children play. At Little Sprouts that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love and care deeply about each of my children. I continually research ways to meet the needs of each child based on their individual needs and interests. I create my own style of curriculum based on many years of experience, training, and education so my kids can have the highest quality education that I can provide. I love what I do and care deeply about it because I know that I am changing the future.
Even DHS feels that center care has greater value than home care. Subsidy reimbursement for child care centers is paid at a higher rate than it is for homes. This speaks volumes about how our society views the value of what home providers do. This is difficult for me to comprehend when I know what I put into a day’s work compared to a center that offers little individuality. I know there is an enormous range of quality in home providers as well as centers. There may be centers that have values closer to mine than I think, and I am well aware that there are home providers who do less than their best work with kids.
In Oklahoma we have a quality star rating system that is supposed to indicate the value of the care a center or home provides, but after years in the system, there is no conclusion that I could come to other than the system is mainly based on money. Providers pay huge fees for certifications and they are observed. On the one day out of 3-5 years that a provider is observed, they can paint any picture they want to of how they provide care and then go back to being something else after an observer gets the snap shot they need to form an opinion. After 15 years of being in the stars program, I quit because it doesn’t indicate quality, it doesn’t make me a better provider, and it takes funds and untold time away from what I have available to provide the best quality care I’m capable of. The paperwork load alone is INCREDIBLE. So I have taken a stand and decided to forego the formalities of a broken system and just provide the best care I can.
I don’t want to be the most expensive child care in town because I believe that quality childcare should be available to all families. Parents shouldn’t have to be rich to get the best, all kids deserve my best. I set my rates in the medium level and give my job my 100% every day. I hope I can inspire other providers, whether in homes or centers to do the same because children are our future and they deserve the very best we can give them!
I know that home daycare has the potential to be the very best environment for kids. I hope I can inspire others to make sure their home daycare is the best they can make it. I also hope that I can teach society a few things about the values of what we do.