What is Family Child Care
Family Child Care is typically a home-based service where child care is provided in the caregiver’s home. It is a widely used type of out-of home care for young children in the United States. Many Family Child Care homes provide high quality programs for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, school age, and children with special needs.
Significant research has provided evidence that warm, loving and home-like settings are natural environments for children during early childhood. While offering the safety and comfort of home, and providing a consistent caregiver throughout the years, family child care is the preferred arrangement for many parents.
The National Association for Family Child Care is dedicated to promoting high quality child care by strengthening the profession of family child care. The Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation set the benchmark for excellence in family child care programs.
The Quality Standards promote high quality family child care which supports families and prepares children for school and life.
High quality family child care supports families
- It is convenient neighborhood care close to home or work.
- Family child care may more closely match the child’s home environment because it is unique to each community.
- Relationships form the foundation of family child care. It fosters emotionally secure interpersonal relationships for everyone involved.
- Family child care providers communicate each day with parents on a personal level. They share information about the development of the child.
- Family child care providers care for multi-aged groups of children allowing children to remain with one caregiver for many years. This 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.
- Because of the low adult to child ratio and small group size in family child care, caring relationships, bonding, and attachment are cultivated. These are essential in brain development.
- Families often prefer family child care for their infants and toddlers. The benefits of the small group size and multi-aged settings are advantageous for very young children.
- 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. They may also offer care for children with special needs.
High quality family child care prepares children for school and life
- Children learn through play. A home is the most natural learning environment, offering practical life skills and experience. Family child care encourages positive learning experiences.
- In multi-age group settings older children have the opportunity to lead, instruct, assume responsibility, nurture others and strengthen their own skills and knowledge.
- In multi-age group settings younger children are exposed to more complex play that includes advanced language and educational activities which they observe and imitate.
- It is not unusual to find older children reading to younger children, or to see older children ‘modeling’ reading while they are doing their homework and reading for pleasure.
- Family child care offers many opportunities for math and science activities in the natural environment of a home and the outdoor area. For example- daily food preparation allows children to practice counting place settings, observe liquids changing to solids and practice necessary skills such as pouring and measuring. Growing vegetables and/or flowers, collecting insects and leaves, and observing birds building a nest are examples of activities which build cognition in children.
- The quality of child care has a lasting impact. In May 2010, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released a report that found that high‐quality child care leads to more positive outcomes even during the teenage years. Children who received high‐quality care in the first few years of life scored higher in measures of academic and cognitive achievement when they were 15 years old and were less likely to misbehave than those who were enrolled in lower quality child care. Even 10 years after children left child care, experiences in quality settings were still related to higher academic achievement4. Vandell, D.L., Belsky, J., Burchinal, M., Steinberg, L., Vandergrift, N., & NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2010, May‐June). Do effects of early child care extend to age 15 years? Results from the NICHD study of early child care and youth development. Child Development, 81(3), 737–756.
Additionally, high quality family child care providers continually seek to improve their program to better support these positive outcomes for the children and families they serve. Through education and training they gain new knowledge, which supports continuous program assessment and quality improvement and ensures best practices.
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