Which Childcare Option is Best for Your Family?
Whether you’re going back to work, want your child to build social skills, or just need a break, a lot of families at some point will have to make the decision on what kind of childcare they want to provide for their children. For some, just getting to this decision can be overwhelming, but then realize having to comb through all the different childcare options can be a daunting task. Not to mention that the cost for childcare can be a sticker shock! According to Care.com “About half, 51%, of parents say they spend more then 20% of their household income on childcare and 72% reported spending 10% or more”. Childcare options are not a one size fits all solution and the most important thing to do is figure out which option works best for you and your family.
In-Home Daycare – Avg. cost is approx. $9,600 annually (according to Center for American Progress)
In-home day cares are usually run out of a private home. Some of the benefits are that there is usually a smaller teacher-kid ratio, they can be more flexible, and siblings can still be together. Things to keep in mind are that there might be less supervision at an in-home daycare, so you need to make sure you trust the provider. They can close last minute for things like getting sick which could leave you scrambling last minute to find backup care.
Daycare Center/Preschool – Avg. cost is approx. $12k annually for infants and $10k annually for toddlers (according to 2020 report by Child Care Aware of America)
Daycare centers are usually large facilities that require a state license for parents to send their children there. Most offer either full day or partial day options. Most also group children based on age. Some benefits of daycare centers are that they typically offer structure and a learning curriculum, they provide regular fixed hours for drop off and pick up, and children are exposed to a lot of socialization with kids their own age. Things to keep in mind are that the teacher-kidratio tends to be larger so your child may not get a lot of one-on-one attention, if siblings are different ages they will be put in separate rooms, each year children will typically have to move to a new teacher, and costs can get expensive depending on where you live.
Nanny – Avg. cost is approx. $37k annually for one child assuming 40 hours a week (according to International Nanny Association)
Nannies typically provide care at your home. They usually take care of all the children in the home as needed and they can do additional household duties such as light cleaning if decided on ahead of time. Some benefits to using a nanny are that you do not have to drive anywhere, your children stay in the comfort of their home environment, and they get a lot of one-on-one attention. That biggest thing to keep in mind with having a nanny is that you are relying on one person to take care of your children. If they get sick or go on vacation, you will have to figure out backup care for them.
An Au-Pair usually comes from another country and is found through an agency to come live with you and take care of your children. Some benefits to having an Au-Pair are that the costs are usually cheaper than a nanny because they live with you, your children get a lot of one-on-one attention, and they can potentially learn a lot about another culture/language. A few things to keep in mind with this option are that Au-Pairs are usually there for a specific time frame so you might have to continue to get new ones over time and they are not professionally trained on childcare.
At the end of the day the choice of which childcare option to use is going to be based on the needs and resources of your family. No matter what choice you choose, it’s important to start researching early, make sure that your choice fits into your budget, and ensure that at the end of the day you feel like your child is safe and in an enriching environment.
By Amber Kodad, CFP®, MBA
Director, Advisor Resource Center