Child care

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Child care, childcare, child minding or daycare is the caring for and supervision of a child or children, usually from age six weeks to age thirteen. Child care is the action or skill of looking after children by a day-care center, nannies, babysitter, teachers or other providers. Child care is a broad topic covering a wide spectrum of professionals, institutions, contexts, activities, social and cultural conventions. Early child care is an equally important and often overlooked component of child development. Child care providers can be our children's first teachers, and therefore play an integral role in our systems of early childhood education. Quality care from a young age can have a huge impact on the future successes of children.

Usually children are taken care of by their parents, legal guardians or siblings. Cross-culturally, children caring for children is very common. This informal care includes verbal direction and other explicit training regarding the child's behavior, and is often as simple as "keeping an eye out" for younger siblings.[1] Care facilitated by similar-aged children covers a variety of developmental and psychological effects in both caregivers and charge. This care giving role may also be taken on by the child's extended family. In lieu of familial care giving, these responsibilities may be given to paid-caretakers, orphanages and foster homes to provide care, housing, and schooling.

Professional caregivers work within the context of a center-based care (including creches, daycare, preschools and schools) or a home-based care (nannies or family daycare). The majority of child care institutions that are available require that child care providers have extensive training in first aid and are CPR certified. In addition, background checks, drug testing at all centers, and reference verification are normally a requirement. Child care can also include advanced learning environments that include early childhood education or elementary education. In this case the appropriate child care provider is a teacher, which requires, aside from the common core skills typical of a child caregiver, a deeper educational training focused on children.

As well as these licensed options, parents may also choose to find their own caregiver or arrange childcare exchanges/swaps with another family.[2]

Types[edit]

In the child's home[edit]

In home care is typically provided by nannies, au pairs, or friends and family.[3] The child is watched inside their own home or the caregiver's home, which could expose to outside children and illnesses. Depending on the number of children in the home, the children utilizing in-home care could enjoy the greatest amount of interaction with their caregiver, in turn forming a close bond. There are no required licensing or background checks for in-home care, making parental vigilance essential in choosing an appropriate caregiver. Nanny and au pair services provide certified caregivers and the cost of in-home care is the highest of childcare options per child, though a household with many children may find this the most convenient and affordable option. Many nannies study towards childcare qualifications. This means they are trained to create a safe and stimulating environment for your child to enjoy and thrive in. Typically, au pairs or nannies provide more than routine child care, often assisting with daily household activities, including running errands, shopping, doing laundry, fixing meals, and cleaning house.

The most now common way to find a nanny is via the childcare website/care website or a nanny agency. Nanny agencies will thoroughly check an applicant's references and run a criminal background check on the successful candidate.[4] Having a nanny could be cheaper than putting multiple children in a daycare setting full time. Nannies could provide stability for the child who gets to have a regular role model in their life. Nannies often work overtime and babysit, providing less stress for parents running late without being charged excessive late fees. They also care for sick children whereas nurseries do not. This enables the parents to continue working as normal without being interrupted. All nannies have first aid and background checks which are either checked by the agency or the family themselves. They can be subject to visits from their local childcare regulatory bodies. Children with nannies could also be well socialized as nannies could be able to take them out and attend more playdates. [5]

In the provider's home[edit]

Family child care providers care for children in the provider's own home. The children could be in a mixed age group with a low adult to child ratio. Care is potentially personalized and individual. The hours may be more flexible and the provider may offer evening and weekend care for mothers who work shifts. The cost of care in a family child care could be significantly lower on average than that of a center.

Child care facilities in the US have the option of becoming accredited. This standard is set and regulated by an outside agency. In centers, National Association for the Education of Young Children institutes it.[6] For family child care providers, the National Association of Family Child Care Providers award the credentials.[7]

Licensed or unlicensed home daycare is also referred to as family child care, or in home care. It refers to the care provided to a group of children in the home of a caregiver. State laws differ regarding rules for licensed versus unlicensed care. In Canada, most home daycares are unlicensed, and this is completely lawful. Licensing home daycares in Canada can help greatly with oversight, but at the cost of a large portion of the daycare provider's pay. Family child cares are small in size and provide families the same securities as a daycare center, and also has the benefits of flexible hours, lower costs, accessibility, and cultural compatibility. Home-based providers can give more individualized care and therefore better meet the needs of working families. In addition, family care generally has a small ratio of children in care, allowing for more interaction between child and provider than would be had at a commercial care center. Family child care helps foster emotionally secure interpersonal relationships for everyone involved. The providers are able to communicate each day with parents on a personal level and share information about the development of the child. Providers care for multi-aged groups of children allowing children to remain with one caregiver for many years which helps children develop a sense of trust and security. Multi-aged settings allow children to learn from one another and allow siblings to stay together. Some family child care providers may offer parents more flexibility with hours of operation such as evening, weekend, overnight, and before and after school care. In the United States, some family child care providers work with companies such as Wonderschool, for assistance in licensing, operations, marketing, and administrative support.[8]

In a center[edit]

An American childcare development center

In a childcare center, teachers focus on the physical and mental developments of their students. In order to have a greater understanding of the student, teachers in centers must incorporate a relationship with their students that benefits their wants and needs while pushing them toward a higher set of values. This type of teaching with a caring relationship will improve a student's moral and incidental learning. [9]

Elementary school teacher dictating students (2003, Tehran).

Commercial care center also known as daycares are open for set hours, and provide a standardized and regulated system of care for children. Parents may choose from a commercial care center close to their work, and some companies offer care at their facilities. Active children may thrive in the educational activities provided by a quality commercial care center, but according to the National Center for Early Development and Learning, children from low quality centers may be significantly less advanced in terms of vocabulary and reading skills.[10] Classes are usually largest in this type of care, ratios of children to adult caregivers will vary according to state licensing requirements. Some positives of commercial care are children gain independence, academic achievement, and socialization.[11] Not only is this age crucial for the betterment of their social skills, but also it begins the stages of understanding a classroom setting.

Pre-school is often the term used to refer to child care centers that care primarily for 3 and 4-year old children. Preschool can be based in a center, family child care home or a public school. Older children, in their turn, in most countries are cared in an educational setting, usually a primary school environment. The children are supervised by a teacher all day long, who is responsible for benefit their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. In this regard, most western countries have compulsory education during which the great majority of children are at school starting from five or six years of age. The school will act in loco parentis meaning "in lieu of parent supervision".In many locales, government is responsible for monitoring the quality of care.

Informal care[edit]

Informal childcare is a childcare system that utilizes both family and community members. This includes but is not limited to grandparents, siblings, and both children and adult neighbors. This system is inexpensive and many cultures utilize and embrace informal childcare as beneficial to a child's upbringing and education.

Children that receive informal care do not receive the same educational and preparatory regimens as those in a center- or home-based center often do. Instead, learning occurs informally as a direct result of the caretaker and charge's interactions. Learning and development occur differently for every individual. Different periods of a child's growth are known to affect the care taking styles associated with them, from the care of an infant to that of an older adolescent. Other influences on care taking include the expectations of the three parties involved- the parents, caretakers, and children.[12]

Children caring for adults[edit]

Many types of childcare discuss the different ways in which children are cared for by adults or older children. One additional type of child care involves children caring for adults. Children as caretakers are most often seen in developing countries with restricted or hard-to-access medical assistance. Child caretakers are common in families where the parents are affected by HIV/AIDS and other mental illnesses that might limit their parental functioning. [13]

Developmentally, these child caretakers have shown certain positive associations that affect their future resilience in the face of adversity. Caring for disabled parents raises their sense of responsibility and maturity, increases social and life skills, fosters closer parent-child relationships, and enhances a child’s early sense of purpose. Children caring for sick or disabled parents also experience less anxiety surrounding their parents compared to children who have an additional caregiver for their disabled parent. This is because the children understand more about the illness and feel more in control over the situation. [14]

Cultural Differences[edit]

Childcare varies dramatically across cultures. These discrepancies are attributed to the homestead and household environments. That is, the type of work performed by adult caretakers in a given community strongly influence the type of childcare used. In agricultural/horticultural societies where work is done to provide sustenance for the community, siblings and similar-aged children are responsible for younger children. [15] While many global communities prefer children aged 7-10 for designated caregiving responsibilities, children no younger than 12 are preferred in the Western world where paid childcare is common.[16]

Other factors of childcare that vary cross-culturally are the relative ages of both caretaker and child, parental expectations, demands of the child, culturally-varied conceptions of children’s maturity, and factors affecting demographic makeup.[17]

England[edit]

In England, childcare is inspected and regulated by OFSTED (previously this was administered by Local Authority Social Services). Care for children under five is split into Childcare on Domestic Premises which is Childminding and Daycare. In the UK being a ‘Childminder’ is a protected title and can only be used by registered professionals. Registered Childminders are trained, insured and qualified in Pediatric First Aid. They comply/administer/work with The Early Years Foundation Stage EYFS and have the same responsibilities for education as nurseries and reception classes. They generally work from their own homes and are always self-employed setting their own terms and conditions. The basic numbers of children that childminders can care for is 6 children under 8 years of age; of these children, 3 may be under 5 and of these 1 may be under 1. These numbers include the childminder's own children (although the childminder’s children will not be included in the childminding ‘Certificate’). Some childminders work with either childminding assistants or with co-childminders, which often increases the number of children that can be cared for and individual childminders can request a ‘variation’ which may increase the children that they care for particularly for ‘continuity of care’ or for twins. There is a professional body – the Professional Association for Childcare & Early Years (formerly the National Childminding Association), which “Promotes and supports quality child-minding expertise” and provides information for Childminders and parents. London has greater pressures on childcare provision than other English regions. A recent study by London’s Poverty Profile found the level of childcare provision in London is lower than the England average. In London, there are 4.4 children aged under 8 per childcare place, compared to the England average of 3.9.[18]

Childcare costs in London significantly hinder the living standards of the capital’s residents. A recent study by Loughborough University, funded by Trust for London, found the minimum budget required for a couple with two children to reach a decent standard of living is 22% more in Inner London and 21% more in Outer London than compared with the rest of the UK. The significantly higher costs of childcare influences this heavily, along with housing and transport.[19]

Scotland[edit]

In Scotland Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education is responsible for improving care and education for children from birth to eighteen. This is implemented by inspections carried out by HMIE itself or by other members of inspection and review teams. Inspection reports include feedback from staff and parents as well as the inspectors, aiming to provide parents and carers information to help them decide whether a particular child care setting is providing good quality child care and meeting government standards.[20]

United States[edit]

Child care can cost up to $15,000 for one year in the United States. The average annual cost of full-time care for an infant in center-based care ranges from $4,863 in Mississippi to $16,430 in Massachusetts.[21]

In monetary- and production-based societies, informal childcare is seen in families who do not have enough funds to finance placing their children in a more expensive child care facility. A study done by Roberta Iversen and Annie Armstrong explains that due to long and irregular working hours of working parents, low- socioeconomic families are more likely to utilize informal childcare.[22]Those low income families are also more apt to work longer hours on an irregular and inflexible schedule, which ultimately makes using a childcare facility that has regular business hours unlikely.

In 2001, more than one half of the children in the United States attended childcare facilities. This number has only increased as the number of working parents has increased. The increase in the number of children that are required to have some sort of childcare service has made childcare facilities more necessary than they have ever been.[23]

France[edit]

Childcare systems in France put great value into childcare providers having received a certain level of formal education in order to properly care for children. They have two separate branches of early childhood childcare. These two branches are called crèche and école maternelle. Crèche is the program for infants and toddlers and école maternelle is part of the education system. They both require teachers to have a college degree with an occasional specialized degree on top of that.[24]

Kenya[edit]

Many agricultural communities highly value sibling- and peer- caretaking. Accounts from the Idakho tribe in Kenya portray infants being left to the care and guidance of other relatively young children in the community with adults and other tribe members merely within shouting distance should a problem arise. The same pattern of caregiving is seen in the Kikuyu people in Kenya, where mothers in the horticultural society are often away working and rely on siblings, cousins, and neighbors to responsibly.care for children as young as 4 months old.[25]

The children caregivers in many communities are deemed responsible to care for those younger than them and it is expected that they will do so. Adults are viewed as occasional supervisors of the caregiving while the caregivers are responsible for responding to the needs of each child. These young caregivers take pride in their responsibility and learn each child’s individual likes, dislikes, and habits.[26]

Effects on child development[edit]

Formal Care[edit]

There are many things to consider when parents enroll a child into a care center or other form of paid childcare, and there is much controversy surrounding the potential benefits and harm caused by this type of care. The parental decisions of leaving a child with someone and who that someone will be are two of the most difficult decisions in the lives of most parents.[24] A parent must consider the safety and security of their children when making this decision. The development of a child has many factors, but it is most directly influenced by the type and quality of care that is most regularly provided to the child.

Child development researcher, Lian Tong, analysed the results from a Haley and Stansbury experiment saying, "Parent responsiveness also facilitates cognitive, social, and emotional development and reduces negative emotions in infants."[27] That is, the amount of time that a parent or teacher is willing to spend teaching, listening to, playing with, and exploring with the child the more socially, emotionally, and educationally developed the child will become. Whether that child receives the majority of his or her care at a center or at its house, the biggest factor in deciding what will have the best effect on the child will be those willing to put in the time and effort it takes to properly develop a child's social, physical, and academic skills.

The quality of childcare given by a facility is generally indicated by the center's cost of enrollment. If the center charges more for the service, it will generally provide better care to the children. Centers that charge more for their services can provide quality education, more current resources, and nicer facilities. These are all helpful when trying to educate a child academically. A higher standard for teachers, such as requiring a degree in early childhood education or a degree of the like, has shown to result in improved growth in the development of a child.

Whether at an expensive facility or relatively inexpensive, children who attend daycare facilities tend to develop social skills more quickly than children of the same age group that are reared at home. They communicate better with children of the same age and often try harder to communicate with those that are younger than them, by using patience and taking different approaches at presenting the data.[28] Surprisingly, a study done by Erik Dearing, has proven that negative social behavioral patterns are not directly connected to daycare. By studying a large selection of children from the Norwegian childcare system he concluded that the number of hours a child spends at a daycare and their behavior have no dependent relations.[29] Though in America, Children who attend childcare systems have a higher risk of externalizing the symptoms of negative social behavior, exhibiting these traits can directly correlate with their time spent in the center.[30]

There are links between the income, education, and importance of consistency and the well being of the child, to the parents, and the development of their child. Higher educated parents place more importance on the education of their children than the parents who do not have a college degree or have not graduated from high school. Likewise, parents who have a higher income level are more willing to part with their money to purchase a private tutor or nanny to assist the parent in the education of their child. They also tend to stress the importance of being socially inept.[27] The first few years of a child's life are important to form a basis for good education, morality, self-discipline and social integration. Consistency of approach, skills and qualifications of caregivers have been shown in many studies to improve the chances of a child reaching his or her full potential. Child care in much of western society is currently in crisis: there are not enough daycare spots, the cost for most parents is beyond their means, and child care staff are grossly underpaid. Starting wages for Early Childcare Educators start at $11 or $12, causing a high turnover rate, and decreases the likelihood of potentially safe, effective, and loving child care providers from even entering the field. According to a survey done by HiMama, 68% of for-profit child care organizations ranked 'Labor' as their top risk and 65% ranked 'Talent and Recruitment' as their top priority for 2017.[31]

Informal Care[edit]

Care given by unpaid providers in an informal setting affect multiple developmental and psychological dimensions in children. Whether the providers are the child’s siblings or a member of the family/community, research dictates this type of care influences factors such as sense achievement, affiliation, conformity, and individual interests. [32]

More specifically, further research indicates that children being cared for by siblings or similarly-aged children (a trend more commonly seen in agriculturally-based cultural communities) have certain psychological and developmental effects on those being cared for. These effects include but are not limited to: mother-child attachment, emergence of childhood developmental stages, formation of playgroups, development of social responsibility, sex differences, personality differences, cognition, and motivation and performance in the classroom. [33]

Health issues[edit]

Childcare infection[edit]

Childcare infection is the spread of infection during childcare, typically because of contact among children in daycare or school.[34] This happens when groups of children meet in a childcare environment, and there any individual with an infectious disease may spread it to the entire group. Commonly spread diseases include influenza-like illness and enteric illnesses, such as diarrhea among babies using diapers. Illnesses and diseases may also include ringworm, head lice, and hand, feet, mouth disease. It is uncertain how these diseases spread, but hand washing reduces some risk of transmission and increasing hygiene in other ways also reduces risk of infection.[35]

Value of unpaid childcare[edit]

Parents spend a significant amount of time raising their children. These parents nurture and develop their children into being functional members of society. This hard work is not motivated by monetary gain. For centuries it has been assumed that women will stay home and take care of the children while their husbands go out and work. In most cases, the husbands get all the credit for providing for the family. However, the wife who is the homemaker, deserves just as much credit for her care work. Caregivers do not receive monetary compensation and they must pay a ‘care-penalty.[36]

A care-penalty is the price one pays for doing care work for a family member. Care giving demands a lot out of an individual, and as a result there is a high opportunity cost. The opportunity cost can relate to both time and money. Instead of taking care of a family member, a caregiver could spend time working or performing more leisure activities. Care penalties are not strictly related to childcare- they can also refer to taking care of a sick family member, babysitting a younger sibling, or taking an elderly family member on errands such as grocery shopping or doctor's appointments.

Monetary Value[edit]

Studies have been done to get an annual salary estimate for a female caregiver. One survey suggested that the value of a mother's work, if she were paid the average wage for each task she performs in running the household and caring for her children, is $117,867 per year.[37] The reason for the high salary is because mothers typically perform about 10 different job functions throughout the week. Some of these job functions are poorly paid, including cleaning, driving, caring for children, and washing laundry, but others, especially financial and managerial tasks that the survey equated with being the Chief Executive Officer of a company, are highly paid. Neither a nanny nor a housekeeper makes nearly as much money, and almost all of these tasks except direct child care also have to be done by non-parents. The value of unpaid childcare is also an important figure in various legal entities. Expert witnesses (most often economists) are occasionally brought into court cases to give estimates on the value of unpaid labor. By giving estimation, the plaintiff or defendant can be fairly compensated for their labor.

Societal Value[edit]

It is important to assess the value of caregivers because they are what truly make society function,[38] and often their work is under-appreciated. They prepare the next generation for school, work, and decision-making. The way in which a child is nurtured at a young age and through adolescence has both psychological and developmental effects that effect their future. Not only does the child depend on caregiving, but schools and employers depend on the childcare. The government also benefits because these children turn into productive members of society. Eventually, they will be the ones running the country.

Developmental benefits are also seen for older siblings or relatives tasked to care for younger children. For example, children with siblings are more likely to prohibit prosocial behaviors (such as the ability to take another's perspective or sharing with others) than children without siblings[39]. Additionally, sibling caretakers have to opportunity to develop deeper communication skills as they teach younger siblings to participate in everyday tasks.[40]

Learning stories[edit]

Learning Stories [41] are documents that are used by Carers and educators in childcare settings. They use a storytelling format instead of a traditional ‘observation’ report to document the different ways that young children learn, and capture the moment in greater detail and provide parents with a greater insight into the events that occur in their child’s time in childcare.

What they include

  • Story of the child’s progress
  • Pictures of the experiences (Optional)
  • The child’s strengths, interests and needs
  • Space for parent feedback [42]

Learning stories originate from New Zealand as they use a learning model in their curriculum called "Te Whaariki". It highlights children's learning outcomes as 'disposition' which are “situated learning strategies plus motivation-participation repertoires from which a learner recognize, selects, edits, responds to, resists, searches for and constructs learning opportunities” [43][44]

History[edit]

According to Chris Knight, the first humans were few; then the population "exploded .... Population expansion on such a scale is inconsistent with female tolerance of infanticide, harassment, or the heavy costs to mothers of male philandering and double standards. If unusually large numbers of unusually large-brained offspring were being successfully raised to maturity, the quality of childcare must have been exceptional. We know what the optimal solution would have been. There can be no doubt that mothers would have done best by ... taking advantage of every available childcare resource."[45]

Plato, according to Elaine Hoffman Baruch, around 394 B.C., argued that a system of child care would free women to participate in society.[46] Among the early English authors to devote a book to child care in the modern sense was Elizabeth Dawbarn (The Rights of Infants, or... Nursing of Infants, 1805).[47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ ChildForum Childcare Information http://www.childforum.com/options-a-differences-between-ece-programmes/73-private-childcare-arrangements-making-your-own-and-what-is-involved.html
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  6. ^ National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  7. ^ National Association of Family Child Care
  8. ^ Magistretti, Berenice (19 June 2017). "Wonderschool raises $2 million to launch in-home preschools". Venture Beat. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
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  12. ^ [Weisner, Thomas S., et al. “My Brother's Keeper: Child and Sibling Caretaking [and Comments and Reply].” Current Anthropology, vol. 18, no. 2, 1977, pp. 169–190., doi:10.1086/201883.]
  13. ^ Evans, Ruth, and Saul Becker. “Children’s and Young People’s Caring Responsibilities within the Family.” Policy Press at the University of Bristol, 2009, pp. 1–38. Global Issues and Policy Responses, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qgvzh.5. Accessed 7 Dec. 2017.
  14. ^ Evans, Ruth, and Saul Becker. “Children’s and Young People’s Caring Responsibilities within the Family.” Policy Press at the University of Bristol, 2009, pp. 1–38. Global Issues and Policy Responses, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qgvzh.5. Accessed 7 Dec. 2017.
  15. ^ [Weisner, Thomas S., et al. “My Brother's Keeper: Child and Sibling Caretaking [and Comments and Reply].” Current Anthropology, vol. 18, no. 2, 1977, pp. 169–190., doi:10.1086/201883.]
  16. ^ Rogoff, Barbara. “4: Child Rearing in Families and Communities.” The Cultural Nature of Human Development, Oxford University Press, 2003.
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  28. ^ Radboud University Nijmegen. "Children who go to daycare may benefit from a wider variety of social situations." ScienceDaily, 30 August 2013. Web. 6 October 2013.
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  30. ^ Dewar, Gwen. "The Dark Side of Preschool:." The Dark Side of Preschool. N.p., 2013. Web. 7 October 2013.
  31. ^ The HiMama 2017 Child Care Benchmark Report
  32. ^ [Weisner, Thomas S., et al. “My Brother's Keeper: Child and Sibling Caretaking [and Comments and Reply].” Current Anthropology, vol. 18, no. 2, 1977, pp. 169–190., doi:10.1086/201883.]
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  44. ^ Kate Ryan. 2006. Family Daycare Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://familydaycare.com.au/forms/feature%2041%20-%20Learning%20Stories.pdf. [Accessed 20 May 11].
  45. ^ Knight, Chris, Early Human Kinship was Matrilineal, in Allen, Nicholas J., Hillary Callan, Robin Dunbar, & Wendy James, eds., Early Human Kinship: From Sex to Social Reproduction (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2008 (ISBN 978-1-4051-7901-0)), pp. 81-82 (author prof. anthropology, Univ. of East London).
  46. ^ Schönpflug, Karin, Feminism, Economics and Utopia: Time Travelling Through Paradigms (Oxon/London: Routledge, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-415-41784-6)), pp. 159–160 (author economist, Austrian Ministry of Finance, & lecturer, Univ. of Vienna), citing Rohrlich, R. & Elaine Hoffman Baruch, Women in Search of Utopia: Mavericks and Mythmakers (N.Y.: Schocken Books, 1984), and Plato, The Republic (ca. 394 B.C.).
  47. ^ The Feminist Companion to Literature in English, ed. Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy, (London: Batsford, 1990), p. 272.

External links[edit]

Media related to Child care at Wikimedia Commons