Daycare is a service that provides children with safe and nurturing environments while parents or guardians are away. Private and public daycare facilities offer a vast range of services, amenities, fees and schedules, making it hard to decide which to use. This difficulty is especially true for parents seeking cost-effective options along with high-quality care. Every family is different, with some needing 24-hour and weekend daycare centers, while others prefer facilities like Montessori preschools that offer children unique learning and development opportunities. When looking for daycare, it's always important to determine whether a relevant facility possesses the appropriate license for its state.
Although many childcare facilities have similar functions, each state, city or county has specific daycare center classifications to reflect key childcare roles and activities. Depending on the age of a child, parental requirements, and the licensing necessary for a childcare provider, daycare facilities can be categorized as child day centers, preschools, nurseries, home daycares or group daycares. They can also include licensed infant and childcare assistance given by nannies and babysitters. Any classified daycare facility must meet relevant worker's qualifications and provide an adequate space ratio for each child. The youngest acceptable age for infants is usually six weeks, and the maximum age for children is 12 years, although age criteria vary across states. A childcare agency can provide care during the day in family daycare homes as well as 24-hour and weekend care in daycare centers.