Knowing what to look for will help you become an informed consumer and increase your success in finding a stable, nurturing environment for your child. Action for Children provides information about the various types of child care and early learning environments available in our community and the standards to which each are held, as well as links to practical guidelines and checklists to help you in your search.
Types of Child Care
You might like the home-like feel of a family child care home, or maybe you want your child to have opportunity to socialize with peers in a larger child care center. You might be looking for after school care for your child, a summer camp experience or a program that can accommodate his or her special needs. It will help you in your search to learn more about what can be expected in each type of child care setting.
Child care centers care for larger numbers of children than other types of care, with the children grouped by age. Centers are licensed by the State of Ohio, with regulations that restrict the number of children they are allowed to care for, the educational qualifications of the caregivers and the ratio of adults to children. Staff must be 18 years of age or older and possess at least a high school diploma or GED.
Preschool programs are offered through Head Start and Early Learning Initiative (ELI) child care centers or local public and private schools. They can be offered as a half-day program several days a week or they can be part of a full day program at a child care center. Preschool programs are licensed by the Ohio Department of Education or the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Some child care centers also offer preschool programs for children 3 to 5 years of age.
Family child care homes are smaller child care programs operated in the provider’s own home, for a maximum of six children at any one time. In Ohio, most family child care homes are exempt from licensing (Type B Homes). For those homes that are licensed (Type A Homes), regulations are for minimum health and safety standards.
Out-of-school time care for your school age child involves care during the time before and/or after school, or during times when school is closed, as well as camp programs during the summer months. These programs are also referred to as Before/After School Programs. Out of school time care is available at schools, in family child care homes, child care centers, and other community organizations.
Summer Camp Programs have two types of programs: 1) Residential Camp, where your child will stay overnight for an extended period of time, typically in one to three-week increments, or 2) Day Camp, where children attend on a daily basis and come home at night. Many of these programs do not operate a full work day, so you may need care before and/or after camp.
In-home care allows your child to stay in the home under the care of a provider who, typically, is dedicated to the care of your child only. As with out-of-home settings, there are various types of in-home providers: nannies, au pairs, mothers' helpers, babysitters. Some are registered with agencies; others are independent. Action for Children has developed a Nanny Guide you can use as a tool if this is the situation that works best for your child and you.
Licensing, Certification and Accreditation terms are used interchangeably sometimes; they mean very different things. Typically, licensing and certification indicate that some form of government (local or state) is responsible for oversight. The licensing/certification body establishes rules and regulations by which the program or provider must abide, and there frequently are inspection and renewal processes. Accreditation usually involves other organizations such as National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) who have established standards that are related to quality goals and that exceed the rules and regulations associated with licensing and certification. In addition, there are non-accredited quality programs for child care and early learning settings. Licensing, certification, accreditation and quality programs exist for all types of child care settings; the processes and requirements vary by type of program.