Program Types:

There are a variety of program types and educational philosophies to consider. Here is a brief overview of many of the program styles and philosophies you will encounter while interviewing perspective providers:

Family child care home: Family child care providers provide care in their home. The size of their program depends upon their license capacity, usually with a maximum enrollment of 12/14 children. These homes are registered or licensed by the state.

Family child care homes vary widely in what they offer. Some home providers run a structured learning environment with an educational philosophy to match, are very organized, well-equipped with well thought out programs. Other family care homes are much more causal in their approach.

For infants and younger children sometimes the smaller environments are a good fit before moving to a center-based program.

Center-Based Care: A child care center provides care for groups of children by a staff of caregivers. Staff members in child care centers are required to have training in early childhood education. Centers are licensed by the state and can be small and have a home-like environment or large and feel more like an elementary school. Centers are either privately operated for profit by a chain or individual, or operated by non-profit agencies, such as churches, public schools, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Within center-based care there are 3 main curriculum styles that you will find.

Parent Cooperative Nursery School: In addition to Family Child Care Homes and Center-Based Care, Parent Cooperative Nursery Schools are a 3rd program type.

Parent cooperatives employ a different concept towards child care in contrast to the previous aforementioned programs. In the 2 previous program models, the children are cared for by caregivers and the parent plays no part in the operations of the program. However, parent participation programs are just the opposite. Parents play a major role in every area of the operation of the program.

A parent cooperative nursery school is a community of parents and teachers who work together to provide a rich learning experience for the children. Each family shares in the responsibility of operating the school. Under the guidance of experienced and skilled teachers, parents participate in the classroom daily on a rotating basis. All families enrolled are asked to work a prescribed number of hours a week in order to provide adequate staffing for the facility.

In addition to working with the children, parents are also active in the day-to-day planning and running of the school. Facility maintenance, attendance at housekeeping and fundraising events and general membership meetings are further examples of a parent's involvement in the program.

Parent cooperative nursery schools also provide family education, with workshops and seminars that provide parents with resources and parenting strategies. Parent participation is a unique feature of a cooperative nursery school and has the added benefit of reducing the cost of tuition compared to traditional child care.

Parent participation programs are usually half day programs.