Tips for Transitioning Your Baby Into Child Care

How To Choose The Right Child Care Arrangement

by Gene Jimenez

What type of child care arrangement is the right choice for your family? According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 59% of children ages five and under were in daycare or another form of nonparental care in 2019. If your child is ready to join this number, but you're not sure what type of arrangement is the best option, take a look at the questions to ask right now.

Does Your Child Need Care Every Day?

This question often takes the form of—do you work every day? But your child may also need care on days you do and don't work. If you recently went back to school, have a newborn at home, work some days from home, or just need extra time to get everything in your busy life done, a part-time care arrangement may not work for your family.

Do You Need Full-Day Care?

A part-time work schedule doesn't necessarily mean that you work two or three days per week. If you work half days, your child may not need care from morning through the early evening. When you discuss part-day options with a center director or administrator, ask about the hours and whether they'll expect you to pay for the entire day regardless of how many hours your child attends the program.

Does Your Child Need Care for the Entire Year?

Do you prefer a traditional school schedule instead of full-year care? If you won't work during the summer or save all of your vacation time for the warmer months, your child may not need to go to daycare between June and August. 

Some centers offer a "school year" or fall to the beginning of the summer program. Others only offer a 12-month contract option. If your would-be top choice doesn't have a school year type of arrangement, ask the director if your child could take a month (or a few) off during the summer. Make sure that the center will save your child's space and discuss how the time off will affect your payments.

Does Your Child Need Summer Care Only?

Your child may attend a preschool program. Unlike a child care center, pre-k's may only offer school year (fall through the end of spring) classes. Who will care for your child during the three-month summer break?

Before you choose a care option for your preschooler during the summer months, talk to local daycare centers and ask about the possibility of partial enrollment or a summer camp. Not every center offers a summer camp program. But those that do may provide services for children who aren't enrolled in school-year care. 

For more information, contact a child care center in your area.