Non-parental childcare may take numerous forms and continue for different periods but remains prevalent across the nation. Berns points out that according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, an excess of 60 percent of children below kindergarten age are regularly in childcare arrangements for most of the day in the absence of parents. This paper discusses the three types of non-parental child care.
The three most prevalent classifications of non-parental childcare are center care, family child care, and family, friend, and neighbor care. Center-based care occurs at group child based programs that provide full or part-time care. They are almost always licensed by state and have trained practitioners. They have a relatively larger number of children, tend to provide necessary interaction with playmates, and often offer additional services such as field trips. Some parents, especially those with irregular schedules may however, avoid center-based care due to the inflexibility of paying for only the hours they are absent or due to the crowded nature of the setting, which may make it intricate for the child to be comfortable with . Family child care, on the other hand, is normally situated at home other than the child’s home. Some states require that the providers caring for more than three children undergo training and are licensed. Even though, the providers seem to be striking because of smaller home-like setting and flexibility, they are not sought-after as a result of their lack of reliability and uncertainty of quality. Family friend and neighbor care, also called in-home care which takes place at the child’s own home, is favored since it is less disrupting for the child and most fitting for the parent(s). However, it is the most expensive option because it leads to the loss of family privacy and provides limited social interaction for the child. Berns has explored the impact of non-parental child care in great depth and has covered not only its effect on the psychological, social, and cognitive development of the child but also a spectrum of factors involved in socialization. He further analyzed the outcomes of four different curriculum models, those being cognitive oriented, direct instruction, Montessori, and developmental instruction. The three childcare types mentioned above, have each been analyzed separately as they are almost mutually independent of each other in a way in which they affect the child. Center-based care was noted to be child oriented, with special training for caregivers mostly incorporating a planned curriculum, consistency, adult directed adult-child interaction, and plenty of group interaction. All of these point to higher scores on tests for cognitive ability, cooperation, sociability, and independence while bearing the ultimate socialization outcome of being socially matured, competent, and intellectually developed. Children in family child care scored highest on tests relating to friendliness but ironically lowest on tests relating to independence from their mothers. However, they were noted to be experienced in complex interactions with other children of diverse ages.
With in-home care, the less incidence of caregiver training and little peer interaction was accompanied by lowest scores on cognitive and social understanding tests. This could be argued to be a result of the unplanned nature of activities and the fact that they are mostly dependent on house chores, that is, the non-existence of a structured curriculum. It bears mentioning however, that Lamb points out that accumulated evidence suggests that non-parental care does not as a matter of default have beneficial or detrimental consequences on children. This position is confirmed by Magnuson, Ruhm, & Waldfogel who point out that no form of childcare does better than the rest.
In a century where human development theorists have singled out the early formative years of a person’s life, as being the most favorable time for the provision of high quality and educative care with a vision to the realization of holistic development, several issues such as increasing cost of living, has caused a paradigmatic shift of focus from parents as the primary providers of this essential intervention to childcare service providers or ad-hoc arrangements.
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