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What’s the difference between daycare and childcare?

What’s the difference between daycare and childcare?

Usually, these terms are used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between what is considered a childcare center and what is considered a daycare. There are no hard and fast rules, but the distinction is really in the facilities and the educational resources. Both can offer on-site support and high-quality early care, but daycare is usually an establishment with a center director and access for multiple families.

Child care providers include occasional and sporadic home babysitting by child care providers who may not be licensed. Instead, daycare sites (even if they are in a home) are licensed and safety is their top priority. They have a maximum number of kids they can support in one space, so it is typically competitive to join the best locations.

Is daycare better than staying home with mom or dad?​

There’s no better or worse. Families differ on how soon they want their children to join out-of-home care centers.

There’s no better or worse. Families differ on how soon they want their children to join out-of-home care centers.


Is income loss greater or less than the cost of child care?​

Free child care​

Across the country (and around the world), child care costs vary significantly. Communities with limited economic resource access often have free or subsidized programs led by high-quality child care providers. Head Start and Early Head Start programs are free programs for 3-4 year olds. There are income caps to be eligible.

If your search leads you to child care options that are less formal — stay with a neighbor or family member for a few hours while mom and dad run an errand — these might be free. But, these kinds of favors are infrequent and unreliable.Calculating income vs daycare costs

The benefits of a full day program are that parents can work and build income without interruption. The most expensive daycare programs are usually around $3000/ month per child. This means if a parent can make more than $36,000 per year, then full time child care providers are worth paying. For other families, especially those with multiple children in high-cost-of-living cities, it may be better for a parent to stay at home. The income loss may still be significantly less than the cost of comparable quality child care provided at a child care facility.


What is the best age to put a child in daycare?​

This also varies. The cost for infants is usually much higher than for potty-trained toddlers, but for parents who have to get back to work, it is common to enroll as early as three months old. Most kids are eligible for free education at the kindergarten level or age 5.

This means most parents are looking for child care resources when their little ones are between the ages of three months and 5 years.

Does Early Education & Preschool Cost More than Daycare?​

Typically, but not always, the answer is yes.

Daycare can just be supervised play, whereas early education is really getting a jump on formal schooling.

Many such early preschool programs start around age two. Because classroom learning requires one-on-one attention, groups are small and competition also can drive up the price.

How many Bright Horizons locations are there? ​

Bright Horizon is a popular private preschool program. The company offers centers, as well as early education opportunities. Bright Horizons Center has nearly 3,000 US branches, but the company also operates in the United Kingdom too.

Children in a class set up.

How much does it cost?​

Prices per month vary by location. Bright Horizons also helps with back up care support.

How many Kindercare locations are there? ​

Kindercare started in Alabama and now has over 2300 preschools. The US map of locations is available here.

How much does it cost?​

Costs vary based on the child’s age, potty training, and how many hours/days per week your child will be at the facility. Tuition assistance is available.

What are YMCA Child care programs and services? ​

The Y breaks down their services into multiple umbrellas: early learning and child care, child watch, after school and early learning, and school partnerships. Such programs are also offered in Australia and Canada, among other countries.

How much does it cost?​

Most are free or low cost.

Let help you navigate what to expect by way of time, money, and savings for your parenting journey.


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