Childcare (also written child care [Both "childcare" and "child care" are common, acceptable spelling of the word. "Child care" is the preferred spelling in accordance with AP Style.] and babycare) is the act of caring for and supervising minor children. (In Australia, daycare is referred to as "childcare"—cf.)

Childcare roles

It is traditional in western society for children to be looked after by one or both of their parents, but the need, or preference, for two-job households means that childcare is delegated to Au Pairs, childminders or crèches on a full-time (40hrs) or part-time (< 40hrs) basis.

Most Western countries also have compulsory education during which children are at school starting from 5- or 6-years of age. The school will act "in loco parentis" meaning "in lieu of parent supervision".

Where parents are missing, dead, unable or unfit to care for children, state agencies such as social services may take on the childcare role.

Another option, that may be more intimate and often keeps children in their own home setting is through the use of nannies or an au pair. Additionally, parents may opt to have their own family members watch their children.

In the United States, childcare in regulated commercial or family childcare home setting is administered or lead by teachers who may have a Child Development Associate or higher credentials. Fact|date=August 2007 These higher credentials include Associate, Bachelor, and even Master degrees in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE). Although Childcare professionals may obtain a degree, many states require that they attend workshops yearly to better their knowledge and skill levels in the childcare field.

The childcare debate

For many, the use of paid childcare is a matter of choice with arguments raging on both sides about whether children suffer or not.

There is no doubt that the first few years of a child's life are vitally important to form a basis for good education, morality, self-discipline and social integration.Fact|date=March 2007 Consistency of approach, skills and qualifications of careers and ownership have been shown in many studies to improve the chances of a child reaching his or her full potential.

For example a recent study in Australia [2006, Rush, The Australia Institute] concluded centers run by corporate chains provided the lowest quality care when compared to community-based providers and independent private centres.

The challenge of childcare

In many families (and almost exclusively so in some communities), the childcare role is taken on by the extended family. One of the challenges for parents who choose to use other sources of childcare is finding and affording qualified providers.

Some jurisdictions require licensing or certification. Parents may also turn to independent rating services, or rely on recommendations and referrals. Some places develop voluntary quality networks, for example in Australia most childcare services are part of the national Quality Assurance system which ensures they provide good developmental programs.

Many organizations (in the developed world) campaign for free or subsidized childcare for all. Others campaign for tax breaks or allowances to allow parents a non-finance driven choice. Many of the free or subsidized childcare programs in the United States are also Child Development programs, or after school programs which hire certified teachers to teach the children while they are in their care.

Most countries have laws relating to childcare, which seek to prevent and punish child abuse. Such laws may add cost and complexity to childcare provision and may provide tools to help ensure quality childcare.

ee also

*Child safety seat
*Day care
*Wood kindergarten


External links

* [ Child Care Quality: An Overview for Parents] - From the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
* [ Information and Child Care resources] from the United Kingdom's National Institute of Childcare and Education
* [ Research on Topics in Child Care & Early Education] from the Child Care and Early Education Research Connections Project.
* [ The UK's specialist awarding body for Childcare qualifications

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • childcare — UK US (also child care) /ˈtʃaɪldkeər/ noun [U] ► WORKPLACE, HR care for a child or children while their parents are at work or are absent for another reason: »What childcare facilities does your company offer? »Without adequate childcare… …   Financial and business terms

  • childcare — [[t]tʃa͟ɪldkeə(r)[/t]] N UNCOUNT Childcare refers to looking after children, and to the facilities which help parents to do so. Both partners shared childcare... Britain has one of the worst records for state run pre school childcare in Western… …   English dictionary

  • childcare — child|care [ˈtʃaıldkeə US ker] n [U] an arrangement in which someone who is trained to look after children cares for them while the parents are at work ▪ People earning low wages will find it difficult to pay for childcare. ▪ I think more women… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • childcare — /chuyld kair /, n. 1. the care or supervision of another s child, esp. at a day care center. adj. 2. Also, child care. of, pertaining to, or providing childcare. [1910 15; CHILD + CARE] * * * …   Universalium

  • childcare — noun The act of supervising and taking care of young children Today most childcare centres are woefully understaffed with poorly paid and underqualified personnel. Child care workers in both the USA and UK are in the lowest tenth of all wage… …   Wiktionary

  • childcare — noun Childcare is used before these nouns: ↑arrangement, ↑expense, ↑facility, ↑provision, ↑responsibility, ↑subsidy, ↑worker …   Collocations dictionary

  • childcare — noun (U) an arrangement in which someone who is trained to look after children cares for them while the parents are at work: The company pays $20 a week towards childcare. childhood / tSaIldhUd/ noun (C, U) the period of time when you are a child …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • childcare — UK [ˈtʃaɪldˌkeə(r)] / US [ˈtʃaɪldˌker] noun [uncountable] the job of looking after children, especially while their parents are working A lack of adequate childcare is making it difficult for women to return to work …   English dictionary

  • childcare — [ˈtʃaɪldˌkeə] noun [U] the job of looking after children, especially while their parents are working the high cost of childcare[/ex] …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • childcare — child|care [ tʃaıld,ker ] noun uncount the job of taking care of children, especially while their parents are working: DAYCARE …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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