Types of Daycare : Home Daycare vs Regular Daycare

October 22, 2020

With so many options, it's important to understand what types of daycare makes the most sense for your family. If you’re starting to search for a daycare, then you know it can be daunting.

Daycares may be part of national or regional chains, and others are privately owned and operate smaller centers. For the most part, they break down into two main groups: Daycare Centers and Family Daycare. It’s important to understand the differences to select the best one for your child.

Here we break down the different types of daycare options available.

Daycare Center

A Daycare Center is a childcare facility where children are cared for in groups. They are an attractive option for parents because there are multiple caregivers, larger groups of children segmented by age, and are regulated by the state. Each state sets licensing standards they must meet. Daycare centers provide classroom-style structure and access to playgrounds and other activities.The structure and the activities available are often very important to parents who choose this option. 

Family Daycare

Family daycares are based in a provider’s home. Each state regulates the number of children family daycares accept. For example in New York, up to 16 children, ages 6 weeks to 12 years old can be cared for in a provider’s home. Family daycares are smaller than daycare centers and are attractive to parents who want their kids in a smaller environment more similar to their home. A single caregiver, providing more consistency for their children, is important to some parents. Family daycares are usually less expensive than daycare centers, but also more limited in resources. Fewer kids attend a family daycare than a regular daycare, and children are grouped regardless of age. For some parents, the flexible hours, smaller ratios, and lower costs are advantages to choosing an in-home daycare. 


Headstart programs are federally funded and are free for families that meet income requirements. Children up to age 5 are eligible to attend. Headstarts are not home-based, but instead operate out of facilities like schools, community agencies, and non-profit organizations.    

Making Your Choice

The type of daycare you choose will depend on your preferences.

  • How old are your children?
  • What is your budget? You can easily find prices for daycares in your area at Upfront.
  • Do you prefer smaller ratios or a classroom setting?
  • Will your children benefit from the familiarity of in-home care?

Take the time to interview daycare providers and ask questions such as:

  • What are your licensing requirements, and is your license up-to-date?
  • What educational curriculum or activities do you provide?
  • What is your adult to child ratio?
  • Are the staff or caretakers CPR trained?
  • Has each adult in the center or home passed a background check?

Think about your family needs, narrow your options, and interview providers. Observe how your child and the potential daycare giver interact. Does it seem like a good match? Make sure that you and your child are comfortable with the caregiver. Ultimately, choose the type of daycare that fits best with your family needs.

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