Home Care Providers: What to Expect

Photo by Jeanmarie1975

Back to School Guide


Over the next several weeks, the Daily Buzz will talk with moms and teachers about what you and your child can expect in the coming school year.

For the little ones who aren't there yet, I talked to moms about different day care options.

Yesterday, CafeMoms shared the pros and cons of day care centers. Today they dish about home care facilities.

What's a home care facility? People who care for one or several children in their own homes. Each state has different laws for these providers, so look up your state's rules and make sure the provider you're considering abides by them.


A licensed provider can give you an extra measure of security that your child is in good hands, but it's not the end all, be all. There's no guarantee they'll provide the best care for your child. Researching each provider and getting recommendations is key!

Here's what moms say are the pros and cons of placing their children with a home care provider:


  • One-on-one attention  In homes with only a handful of children, your toddler may get the type of attention that would be impossible for teachers in a class of at least a dozen kids in a center.

My son has never had separation anxiety. He's always clean, fed, and happy at the end of the day. I get full reports on what he ate, how he behaved, and how many times he was changed. -- Fawn80

  • Next best thing to home  My son's caretaker is very nurturing and organized. She has a clean home, cooks nutritious meals, and does a little preschool program (circle time, story time, worksheets, craft, parties, etc.). My son gets to do things like slip-n-slide in the summer. -- mommynac

If he's having a bad day, he doesn't have to stick to the same schedule; he can have a lazy day and watch cartoons or lay in bed. She is very open and parents are welcome to come and go as they please. -- Chandra034

  • Cost and flexibility  Home providers are often cheaper than day care facilities. At centers, you often have to pay for the days your child is not there, such as when he is sick or you are away on vacation. This may be the policy at some home cares, but not all. Centers also have strict hours for dropping off and picking up, and may charge you extra if you are even a few minutes late. Home cares are often a lot more lenient.



  • Mixed age group  A home provider may be caring for a baby, a 2 year old and several 4 year olds at the same time. You child may be the only one in his age group and not have kids his own age to play with.
  • Higher degrees not a given  Some licensed centers often require their head teachers to have degrees in early childhood education or other certifications -- some won't hire anyone without a master's degrees. Babysitters and day care providers are not held to such strict educational standards.
  • Food issues  Home providers often serve their charges what they are feeding their own families -- and those choices may not be your own. Some require you to send lunch and snacks in; many centers provide meals.

At the neighbor's, I would have to worry about her feeding him grown-up food (super spicy or greasy). Her daughter would be eating out of a large bag of Doritos when I dropped him off in the mornings. -- Vanillan06

They would get stuff like Ramen noodles for lunch every day. -- ChazznRoccosmom

  • Strangers in the house It's the person's home, so you never know who is going to walk in ... friends, neighbors, a strange cousin.

My provider would leave and run errands and leave the kids with unlicensed providers without letting the parents know. -- ChazznRoccosmom

  • Last minute scrambling

It's a family setting, just like as if he were at home. The sitter has days were she has appointments or is sick and can't take him that day. Then we are stuck trying to find an alternative. -- jmccurdy

Every home care is different -- some are great and others not so great. Do you agree with the above? What were your child's experiences with your provider?

And visit our Back to School Guide all this month for the what-to-expect scoop from real CafeMoms and teachers on each grade level.

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