It’s a fact of life these days that most couples will have to utilize child care at some point. Thanks to stagnant wages, it is getting harder and harder for families to make it on just one income, meaning both parents have to work. For families that have young children, that means they are going to have to spend some time in daycare. Only about one-third of kids stay at home with one parent full time, and about 75 percent of families with a mom who works full time utilize some form of child care, whether it’s full-day daycare or an after school program. There are basically three options for care by a non-family member — care in your own home, a home-based daycare or a commercial center. There are pros and cons to each.
When it comes to cost, home-based daycares are usually the cheapest option, although commercial centers can be quite competitive. In-home care provided by a nanny usually is the most expensive, although if you have more than one child, it actually can be the cheapest option, because you usually pay an hourly wage that is the same if you have one child or three. Home-based and commercial centers will charge you more for each child. Cost is a major consideration because families spend about 8% of their income on child care costs.
Another consideration is flexibility. When you employ someone in your home, there is a lot more flexibility involved. If there are certain days you don’t need care, you likely won’t have to pay the person while you can still get care if your child is sick. That can make your child care management easier. On the other hand, if you take your children to a home or commercial daycare center, they won’t be able to go if they are sick and you still will be required to make your daycare payment even when your child isn’t there.
Safety is a big concern when it comes to child care. If you bring someone into your home you might want to go through an agency that screens nannies, and if you go to a home daycare, you will want to go to one that is licensed. This is one area where commercial centers have an advantage because they have to have licensed staff and go through regular inspections. However, you always should thoroughly check out and daycare provider.