For parents seeking care for their child or children while they are working, there are quite a few choices available. The two most popular options are choosing a daycare center to send the child to, or hiring a nanny or babysitter to care for the child at home. Both options have advantages and disadvantages that the parent will have to consider before making a choice.

Advantages of Choosing a Nanny or Babysitter

  • The child is able to remain in their own home for much of the day, or if they are school age, leave from and come home during the day. There is the added benefit of having one caregiver.
  • Flexibility: An in-home provider offers much more flexibility than a childcare center with a set schedule. Whether the nanny lives with the family or drives to their home, an arrangement that meets the needs of the family can be arranged based on the parent’s schedule.
  • Additional Assistance: Some nannies may be willing to do extra cleaning, run errands, or take children to extracurricular activities.
  • In choosing the right nanny, there is the potential for a long term caregiver as the children grow up.
  • Nowadays, there are many nanny services that will post resumes, provide references, do background checks, and set up salary and tax paperwork for you.

Disadvantages of Choosing a Nanny or Babysitter

  • Expense: The cost of a nanny or babysitter is variable, but the average hourly wage runs from $8 to $20 per hour.
  • If you are not using a service, you will be responsible for checking references, background checks, handling paperwork, drawing up an employment agreement or contract, etc.
  • If the nanny becomes ill, or has to take personal time off, you will be left without a caregiver.
  • Unless your child is enrolled in activities outside the home, or attends preschool, there will not be as many opportunities for social interaction and early learning.

Advantages of Choosing a Daycare Center

  • Your child will have opportunities for social skills development and early education even as an infant, and will continue to learn as they grow up.
  • Childcare center staff must have background checks, training, and education to work in a center. Centers are regulated by state laws and monitored by state agencies.
  • Financial assistance may be available to offset costs.
  • Most information regarding specific centers can be found online, including websites for the centers, as well as violations, ratings and reviews.
  • Convenience: Many centers offer hot lunch programs, transportation for school age kids, field trips during the summer, and extra classes or tutoring.

Disadvantages of Choosing a Daycare Center

  • Expense: Childcare can run anywhere from $5,000 to $16,000 annually, depending on the state you live in.
  • Lack of one on one care. Your child will be with a group of children and possibly several different caregivers during the day, depending on scheduling.
  • Lack of flexibility. Childcare centers are open for a set period of time on certain days of the week. Some are even closed around holidays. This does not always work for parents with a variable schedule, late meetings, and weekend work.
  • Illness: Even the cleanest childcare center cannot prevent all illnesses from spreading, so your child may catch viruses or other illnesses from the other children. Also, sick children cannot attend daycare, so this may cause the parent to have to miss work.

Both of these options are viable choices for working parents, depending on their specific needs and desires for their child. Finding the right kind of childcare is possible with a little bit of time and some careful research.