Finding childcare services in the US
Updated 2023-10-04 07:34

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

Important: There is no US federal or state-mandated program to subsidize 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.

Home-based daycare in the USA

Some individuals operate daycare services from their homes, providing a more intimate setting for a smaller group of children. Home-based daycares can offer a more personalized experience but may have fewer resources than larger centers.

This kind of care is preferred by parents who wish to keep their children in a more personal environment. It usually occurs 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 center. Since there are only a few other children, there's no guarantee that your child will have friends in the same age group.

For this kind of daycare, licensing isn't as straightforward as it is with daycare centers in the US. Because groups are small and care is provided in a home, such care facilities can fly under the radar and operate without a license. It is recommended to always opt for a licensed childcare facility.

Daycare centers/childcare centers in the USA

These facilities provide structured care and educational activities for children of different ages, typically from infants to preschoolers. Daycare centers are often licensed and regulated, offering a safe environment for children to learn, play, and interact with others. 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 centers 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.

Preschools in the USA

Preschools are focused on early childhood education and typically serve children between the ages of 3 and 5. They offer a curriculum that prepares children for kindergarten, focusing on social, cognitive, and emotional development.

Nannies in the USA

Hiring a nanny in the USA involves having a caregiver come to your home to care for your child. Nannies provide personalized care and can tailor activities to your child's needs. Nannies are popular in urban and suburban areas across the United States, especially in larger cities where families may have demanding work schedules and seek personalized care for their children. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington DC are known to have a strong demand for nanny services. Nannies tend to be expensive, and this is generally an option for higher-income working parents.

Popular websites for finding nannies:


How to choose a childcare service in the USA?

There are lots of things to consider when choosing childcare for your family. Whether you choose a daycare or a 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 center and check if you qualify for federal aid. You are advised to visit the site to learn 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. According to, in 2023, the average weekly cost of hiring a nanny for an infant child was $763. The weekly daycare cost is $284, and the weekly cost of a family care center is $229.

Funding for childcare in the USA

In the United States, government funding for daycare and childcare programs varies depending on factors such as state regulations, income level, and individual circumstances. While some government assistance programs provide financial support for childcare, it's important to note that the availability and eligibility criteria can differ from state to state. So long as expats are in the US on the correct permanent visa, they should be assessed for funding like any other eligible residents, so long as they meet the specific criteria set by the state in which they reside.

Some funding options include:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): This federal program provides funding to states to assist low-income families with the cost of childcare services. States use these funds to offer subsidies to eligible families, enabling them to access licensed childcare providers;
  • Head Start and Early Head Start: These federally funded programs focus on early childhood education and comprehensive services for children from low-income families. They offer a combination of educational, health, nutritional, and social services to support children's development;
  • State child care subsidy programs: Many states have their child care subsidy programs that provide financial assistance to eligible low-income families. These programs can vary widely in terms of eligibility criteria, application processes, and the level of funding provided.

Useful links:

National Head Start Association

Selecting a childcare facility

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