Child care, otherwise known as day care, is the care and supervision of a child or multiple children at a time, whose ages range from two weeks of age to 18 years. Although most parents spend a significant amount of time caring for their child(ren), child care typically refers to the care provided by caregivers that are not the child's parents. Child care is a broad topic that covers a wide spectrum of professionals, institutions, contexts, activities, and social and cultural conventions. Early child care is an equally important and often overlooked component of child's developments.[US 1]
|Outside the home|
|Institutions and standards|
Care can be provided to children by a variety of individuals and groups. Care facilitated by similar-aged children covers a variety of developmental and psychological effects in both caregivers and charge. This is due to their mental development being in a particular case of not being able to progress as it should be at their age.[US 1] This care giving role may also be taken on by the child's extended family's. Another form of childcare that is on the rise in contrast to familial care giving is that of center-based child care. In lieu of familial care giving, these responsibilities may be given to paid caretakers, orphanages or foster homes to provide care, housing, and schooling.
Professional caregivers work within the context of a center-based care (including crèches, daycare, preschools and schools) or a home-based care (nannies or family daycare). The majority of child care institutions available require child care providers to have extensive training in first aid and be CPR certified. In addition, background checks, drug testing at all centers, and reference verifications are normally a requirement. Child care can consist of advanced learning environments that include early childhood education or elementary education. "The objective of the program of daily activities should be to foster incremental developmental progress in a healthy and safe environment and should be flexible to capture the interests of the children and the individual abilities of the children."[US 1] In many cases the appropriate child care provider is a teacher or person with educational background in child development, which requires a more focused training aside from the common core skills typical of a child caregiver.
As well as these licensed options, parents may also choose to find their own caregiver or arrange childcare exchanges/swaps with another family.
Access to and quality of childcare have a variety of implications for children, parents and guardians, and families. As aforementioned, child care at an early age can have long-term impacts on educational attainment for children. Parents, particularly women and mothers, see increased labor force attachment when child care is more accessible and affordable. In particular, child care has disproportionate benefits for communities lacking in child care programs, such as certain immigrant communities and communities of color.
This article will cover a wide range of issues pertaining to childcare, including the various cultural considerations of childcare, the policies of various countries, the different types of childcare offered, the effects of childcare on development and health of children, payment of childcare workers, the inequities seen within childcare, as well as the history, business, access, and standards of requirement for childcare.