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Childcare in the US

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If you are moving to the United States and plan to have a full-time job, it is likely that you will need to find someone to look after your children. Expats moving to the U.S. will have many types of childcare services available. The most common options are family care and daycare programs.

 Important: There is no U.S. federal or state-mandated program to subsidise or provide childcare to families or employees. Some employers do provide benefits to working parents, but the majority of parents are responsible for finding and paying for their child’s care, which can be expensive.

Family care and in-home caregivers

Family care is preferred by parents who wish to keep their children in a more personal environment. This type of care is usually in a home with only one caregiver and a small group of children. The types of activities can vary, similar as to how it works in a daycare centre. Since there are only a few other children, there’s no guarantee that your child will have others in the same age group.

With family care centres, it is important to note that the quality of service depends on the person who takes care of your child and the number of children in the group. Also, licensing isn’t as straightforward with family care facilities as it is with daycare centres. Because groups are small, and care is provided in a home, it is possible for family care facilities to fly under the radar and operate without a licence. It is recommended to always opt for a licensed child care facility.

 Good to know: In-home caregivers like nannies or au-pairs are not as common in the U.S. as in other countries because of the high cost.

Daycare centres

Daycare centres, sometimes called nursery schools, are the most common childcare option in the United States. Most facilities welcome children from three months old to five years old. The curriculum can vary from playing and guided activities with other children to preschool education.

Both the people working at a daycare and the facilities themselves must be licensed by the individual state. Note that each state imposes different standards which must be followed to keep the nursery operating. Additionally, some daycare centres have accreditations that guide their operations. Reading about the licensing standards in your state and common accreditation programs can help you decide which facility is best for your family.

 Good to know: The federal government finances a program called Head Start for families whose income falls below a certain range.

Considerations

There are lots of things to consider when choosing childcare for your family. Whether you choose a daycare or family care facility it is important to know the health and safety requirements of your state that are necessary to become licensed. You must also consider the prices and services offered by the centre and check if you qualify for federal aid. You are advised to visit the site to know more about the environment in which your child will be and to interact with the caregivers.

 Good to know: Childcare costs can vary greatly depending on the type of program and the cost of living in your particular city. A recent national survey found that the average cost of daycare per child, per week, is $195.

 Useful Links:

National Head Start Association
Selecting a childcare facility
National Association for Family Child Care

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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