Choosing Child Care: Your choices for home based care
All we want is to find the perfect someone who will be really invested in taking care of the baby. But the irony is that when you want the most information and strongest standards of quality, you won’t find it for infant care. So most of us start with our closest family and keep widening the circle of possibilities until we come to a solution we can afford and think will work. There’s no point in pretending; child care is do-able, but complicated.
Close to a 65% of employed parents relied on relatives for some or all of the child care for their young children. Parents use complementary work shifts or they swap income-earning responsibilities so that baby’s primary child care experience is with a parent. About 25% of dads work opposite or overlapping work shifts with mom. Another group, Stay-at-Home Dads comprised about 7% of all married couples’ full-time child care in 2011. Other families (married or single parents) may reach back one generation and engage grandparents to provide the childcare, and yet another block of parents look to another close relative, typically a sister or aunt to be with the baby. Relative care provides the comfort of trust, personal attachment to the baby that you want. And it will certainly have a lower price point than any non-relative care that you pay for out of pocket.
If you don’t have an in-family option, you’re in good company. About 21% of families use some sort of non-relative care, either in their own home (6%) or in a near-by home based child care business (15%). If you have the income you can enter the world of nannies and au pairs to take care of your baby. The convenience factor is clearly very high. But there is no getting around the cost barrier; anywhere from $16,000 for a minimum wage full-time nanny and WAY UP for the equivalent of America’s Super Nanny. Private companies that train and place nannies or au pairs may have their own standards, but in the final analysis you may do the screening and the training. Your trust alone is the deciding factor.
With the home based child care business, there are more likely to be enforceable state or local standards but these vary widely. The signature of the home based business is typically small group size (less than 12 kids total of which fewer than 4 are infants and 3 adults). With either a nanny or family child care, you have tremendous convenience and in most cases, a trustworthy caregiver. But the big downside is the high cost. Even out of home child care for infants is expensive; anywhere from $4,000 a year in South Carolina to $10,000 a year in New York.
Take heart, besides your friends and families, there’s still one option left: the infant child care center. It will be featured in the next post. In the meantime, return to last week’s links and go forward undaunted. You will figure out what can work best for you and your baby.