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Home-Based Daycare vs. Childcare Center
I find myself with a positive but difficult decision to make, and could really use some advice from student parents and folks who have used the UC child care system. I am a grad student who will be writing my dissertation come this fall. My son, who will be 11 months old, has been offered a full fee spot starting in August in the Haste St child care center at UC. It is a full time spot at $1815 per month, and of course, cost is an issue. We live about 20 minutes away from campus, and my son is currently in a family daycare 5 minutes from our home. It costs $10 an hour and we mostly only pay for the hours we actually use.
We have been really happy with our family daycare, and I'm wondering whether we should consider moving our son to Haste St in August. How many hours per week should I anticipate having him in care? (My doctorate is in the humanities.) Is it feasible to plan on putting him in care for half days, spending the other half of the day with him, and then working after he goes to bed, my ideal? Or will I really need all day to work? If we don't actually have him in care full time, it's less expensive to stay with the family daycare, but for full time care, UC is cheaper.
I've heard such great things about the UC program; how have your recent experiences with it been? Would my son get some benefit from the professional care at UC that he would not receive in his family daycare? Would placing my son in UC care help me find a community of student parents? What about the issue of care near home versus care near school, when I plan on working from home some of the time? Finally, we may move within the next year, but that plan is up in the air and we don't know exactly where we would move to, but places that are nowhere near the family daycare are certainly possibilities. Any sage advice? Can't believe we got a spot
However... I wouldn't say it's worth 1800 dollars a month to go to Haste st. I have experience with that center, and was not impressed. The decision to build an ultra-modern, solar powered whatever was out of line with the supposed vision of UC. It is now a debt that hangs over the budget of the entire ECEP system. The nickname is ''Waste St.'' among the rest of us in centers that are more humble in their attractiveness, but no less wonderful. You will probably be the only student parent in your room at Haste as well, and while that might not be a big deal, I found the social ties forged with my fellow student parents to be a big draw to the other centers.
So while I have been blessed with a very enriching experience for my children, if I had 1800 dollars a month per child to spend on preschool or child care, I wouldn't spend it at UC. Just my opinion... you can ask the moderator for my email if you would like to talk about it further. Sarah
But I did write my dissertation with a young baby and here is what worked for me. I had childcare part time, about 4-5 hours a day, in the morning.
I found that if I woke up, took my child to childcare, and then came home and sat at the computer writing for 3-4 hours, that was my most productive time. I don't think I could have been productive for more than 4 hours a day. The good thing was that I knew I only had a certain amount of time, so I made sure that I didn't get distracted with other things like housework during my writing time.
In the end, I finished a lot quicker than many other classmates who didn't have children. I was forced to focus and get it done, and I think that was a benefit. finished!
Overall, it is an excellent program. Kids get the most out of it when they are fully engaged in the entire day. The expectation (at CKIC at least) is that all kids arrive by 9am so that they can eat together and begin a semi-structured day (lots of play/music/art in the mornings, communal lunch, nap, and then more playing/going for walks in the afternoon, along with an afternoon snack). The day is less structured for the younger kids (sometimes they have 2 naps a day depending on their schedules). Pick ups begin around 3 and continue till 5:30.
We loved that our daughter had the same teachers throughout her three years (they follow the kids instead of the kids moving room to room as they get older). That created lots of security for her and knowledge for the staff about her personality. The teachers have excellent training, know developmental milestones and craft appropriate activities, and give daily feedback on what your child did and how they are progressing.
I hope students who are at Haste St will reply to you to give their perspective of how many hours they use and if Haste has the same desire for the kids to be there full time M-F to take advantage of what the program has to offer and to bond with the group. Happy CKIC parent
Regarding FT vs. PT ... I am a new PhD, and I wrote my dissertation when my 2 kids were both under 4. I am now in a pretty intense postdoc and aiming for a tenure-track job at a research university. Without FT childcare, I would have found it difficult, then or now, to maintain the kind of productivity I need for my career (not to mention my mental health). I do do a little bit of work in the evenings after the kids are asleep (mostly email), but that time is often taken up with laundry, lunches for the next day, etc.
That said, I have many other grad student friends who are parents, and not all of them have felt they needed FT care during the dissertation-writing stage, particularly those who were aiming toward industry jobs (non-academic) or less- competitive teaching positions. If you are JUST writing your dissertation and not also trying to teach, publish other work in the top journals, attend conferences, etc., etc., you may be able to get by with less childcare. So I think it depends on how you see yourself as an academic and how many working hours you need to sustain that. mama, ph.d.
For us, it was a question of no childcare or UC, so we've gone with it and have been glad. I really couldn't have written my dissertation without it. I have heard about those who wrote for five hours a day (during nap and bedtime) but it certainly never worked out that way for me.
I have liked meeting student parents, but the UC system seems to be more full of undergrad parents than grad parents, and is more designed for their needs. Ask, for example, if Haste Street offers summer childcare. If you plan to be writing in the summer and have to switch your kid somewhere else, you may want to consider that. I'd be happy to answer more specific questions if you email me directly. Katie
It's hard to gauge whether the UC is better due to professional care; you didn't mention all the daycare offers, but at this age, love is the most important ingredient, and you did say you're already happy. Alternatively, you could easily pay the same rate or better in a nanny share with just one other child.
You know, no terms are set in stone, especially these days. If I were you, I would let my provider know that I'd ''gotten in'' to UC childcare, which is cheaper than her if you go F/T, but that you're really happy with her. I bet you could get her to match or go lower than the UC rate, to retain you, especially since you are established, stable income for her. Not to mention you might still get the flexibility to see what your weekly needs are as time goes on.
I wouldn't consider a large childcare situation for at least another year of your child's life.
We switched #2 to Haste St. after his old daycare closed. We like it but don't love it. That said, despite the fact that we only need part time care, we are sending #3 there in the fall. The biggest reason is that we were told that with the budget cuts, they may be shifting things around and there is no guarantee there will be slots for the younger kids later on. We decided we didn't want to take the chance of never getting him in.
One more thing to think about, we knew someone who was in grad school and had their child at a preschool in Berkeley despite living in, I think, Fremont. It wound up being a pain for her because she didn't want/need to go to campus every days but then her choice was to have a long drive or to have her kid underfoot all day while she was trying to work. So you need to think if this is going to be an issue for you. Maybe we'll see you at Haste St. in August
I would like to send my son when he turns one to a daycare. Because the list of daycares is so long I realize I first need to make a decision and chose between home based daycare or daycare center. What are the pros and cons for each? Roni
- Low child to teacher ratio (3:1) which means your baby/child gets individual attention when he/she needs it.
- Separation by age group. This keeps the toys and activities age appropriate and prevents the little ones from being run over by the bigger kids.
- Experience and education. A high-quality center requires some level of training for all teachers, certification or a BA by head teachers, and provides or encourages on-going training/education. At a center, there are a variety of teachers - some with years and years of experience and some who are young and full of energy and fresh ideas - which creates a nice balance.
- Your child will form bonds with several teachers over the years, instead of just one or two. Good luck with your search!
In my own case, I had my son in a home based daycare from 5 months to 2.5 years, and then in a daycare/preschool setting from 2.5 yrs on. I visited a few centers and some home-based places and came away thinking that a young child under 2 could not really benefit from the more educational and physical activities that daycare centers are good at providing. An intimate surrounding seemed the better place for a little one. In the centers that I visited, those under two were also stuck together in a room with other babies, and did not get to mix with older children. Since my child loved learning (to walk, to eat, etc.) by following the example of older kids, I really liked the mixed ages that you can find in a home-based environment. He was the youngest in his home-based daycare when he entered; the oldest was four. Rather than prove a danger to him (the argument of my friends who prefer same-age grouping), the older kids were wonderful in playing with him and providing extra stimulation which he found much more interesting than adult attention.
I also got the sense that a home-based daycare could better adjust the day to my child, especially when he was younger and his 'schedule' (napping, etc.) kept changing. Bigger centers, in order to manage, seemed more rigid in what the kids had to do.
Finally, I have the preception (perhaps wrong) that there might be less sickness passed around if there are fewer kids, as there tend to be in home-based daycares. Your child will still get sick once they go to daycare (once every six weeks for us!), but he still seemed somewhat better off than an another child that went to a center. Some of the arguments against a home-based center is problems if the provider gets sick (no one to cover) and/or fears about comptency, etc. that are not checked by anyone as they would be in a larger institution. In my case I used two absolutely wonderful home-based daycares and never had either problem. I think each only called sick one day a year. And, they have been much more flexible about drop off and pick up times when we had extraordinary situations than a center would have been. That said, I think once the child is about 2.5, centers with more educational activities and more children can be a good thing, the main reason we are leaving our provider in September. Irene
Personally, I prefer a home-based Daycare until a child is old enough to communicate pretty well (sometime between ages 2 and 3 years.) I think that babies/toddlers are better off in an environment that is as home-like as possible, where they can sleep and eat when they feel the need and are not surrounded by too many people. Most home-based daycares don't have more than 5 kids (which depends on the license the caregiver has) so they are more likd a little family. Additionally, our pediatrician has mentioned that babies get fewer colds when they are in child care with less than 5 other kids.
The draw backs are: 1)the caregiver is not supervised by anyone but the parents... so if you are suspicious, you have nothing but your gut to go on. 2) when the caregiver is on vacation, you have to make alternate arrangements because their isn't an automatic substitute. another mom
For me the drawback of a home daycare wasn't that my child might not have care on a day when the provider needed to take vacation or sick leave, but rather that the provider would end up NOT taking those days off. Coming to work sick when you work with kids is not a good thing, but if there is no paid sick leave, or no easy way to get a substitute, it often happens.
One of my childcare requirements is that the teachers have the same type of benefits I do: paid vacation leave, paid sick leave, paid health insurance, etc. Of course it may not be at the same level I have, but they must have something. This was not something I could provide for a nanny, so I chose a center. Not every center offers these things, but I asked every daycare I called about these issues, and chose one that does.
Also, I want my children cared for by teachers who can reasonably chose providing care as a career (not just a temp job). I believe that having benefits like sick leave, health coverage, etc. makes it easier for it to be a real career, and helps prevent burnout. Granted, even at the great and expensive center we chose, the salaries probably aren't much... but it is a start. Along the lines of preventing burnout, I like the way our center supports our teachers: there are enough extra ''hands'' so that everyone gets breaks throughout the day, and there is always a ''floater'' teacher who helps out whereever the need is greatest. The teachers are part of a real community and provide important moral support for each other. All this leads to less turnover, which is better for my kids, and to happier teachers I think. - Charis
I am moving to Davis this month (I am a grad student up there), and I've been looking for appropriate child care for my 11 month old. I have looked at every center that accepts infants and I've been really unimpressed with all of the ones with openings--not with the facilities, but with the staff. I had a much better feeling from a home-based center with a large lisence--meaning that they can have up to 12 children as long as there are only - i think- only 2 under the age of 2. The woman running the center and her "aide" were extremely warm towards the children, who all seemed to be very happy and occupied during my 1 1/2 hr visit. She had tons of activities for the children and has had her lisence for about 18 years. I am really leaning towards going with this woman, but I hesitate for one reason-- I frankly don't know how 2 people can care for up to 12 kids, and I wonder how difficult this will be for my son who has been cared! f! or only by my mother and a babysitter. I don't want to shelter him from experiencing other kids and social situations. On the contrary, I think that this will be great for him. He loves watching children and I really liked the family atmosphere of this woman's home. But 12 kids? Will he freak out?
The caregiver has children ranging from 18 months to 4 1/2 yrs, but most are 2-3 yrs of age. Does anyone have any advice about this? My dilemma is this: should I put my son in a center with a 4:1 teacher/infant ratio with unimpressive staff, or can I trust his care to a home based child care with (what seems to me to be) a staggering 6:1 teacher/child ratio? Any advice or comments?
My suggestion is to talk with the woman to find out how many children they actually have at any given day or time of day, and what ages they are. The ages of the children really does make a difference, because older children are generally easier to care for. Give your child at least a month to adjust before making any rash decisions. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this further. Good luck. Michele
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