Last updated on January 23rd, 2017 at 10:34 am
Broadly defined, the term childcare includes all types of education and care provided for young children. The term is used more specifically for the supplemental care of children from birth to age eight years by persons other than parents.
Childcare plays an important role in the lives of the children as well as the parents. It is an important aspect of their nurture, as it helps to transfer the norms and values of the society to them from their parents or other caretakers. It ensures the social conformation of the children and helps to prevent them from being deviant.
In some countries like China, programs are used to instill societal values in young children such as working together in a collective tradition. Childcare is used for a variety of reasons, and programs vary by the number and age of children, the reason care is used, the preparation and status of caregivers, and the location of the care.
The two major purposes of early childhood programs are care and education. High-quality childcare can help children to flourish, whatever their family circumstances. It can help parents to flourish, too, knowing that their children are being well-cared for while they go out to work. But not everyone has access to high-quality childcare, and this has far-reaching consequences for children, parents, and society as a whole.
Unequal access to high quality, affordable childcare triggers and intensifies a range of income, gender, and social inequalities. Over the past half century, the way mothers and fathers spend their time has changed dramatically. A majority of families today use childcare while they are employed or engaged in other activities.
A number of time parents spend with their children continues to go up. Fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965. Mothers’ time with children has also increased, and today’s mothers spend more time with their children than mothers did in the 1960s.
Married parents spend more time at work than unmarried parents, counting housework, childcare and paid work together, and have less leisure time than other parents. Dads are doing more housework and child care; moms more paid work outside the home. Neither has overtaken the other in their “traditional” realms, but their roles are converging, and a modern man is emerging with a more balanced share of roles between both the partners. Still, there are important gender role differences.
While a nearly equal share of mothers and fathers say they wish they could be at home raising their children rather than working, dads are much more likely than moms to say they want to work full time. And when it comes to what they value most in a job, working fathers place more importance on having a high-paying job, while working mothers are more concerned with having a flexible schedule.
With the increasing inflammation in the society, parents are required to work tirelessly to supplement the needs and requirements of their families, during the course of the twentieth and the early twenty-first-century families have become more child-centered with legal rights for children and other factors that make childcare an important matter in many families. However, the busy lives of parents have somewhat altered the gap between childcare and parents role in it.
Today, if we look around, Mothers often tend to hand over their infants to daycare centers without any hesitation. For the moment it does solve the matter of the child’s safety, but there is a negative impact on the relationship and bonding between the mother and her child. Women in today’s society have a triple shift which leads up to a role conflict. They are often expected to do paid work in order to support the family and do the house chores around the house along with the responsibility of childcare.
The role conflict that arises as a result of a hectic routine like this forces the working mothers in the society today to send their children to paid daycare centers for the nurture and care of their children. Because of the busy lives of many parents today and their lacking contribution to the nurture of their children, we see kids being deviant and committing anomie these days. The lack of respect in children for their blood relations and more interest in social friends is quite evident of the fact. It is also very surprising how the busy lives of many have created such a void in the childcare of the children that parents these days have little or no control over their children.
However, it is also true that other agencies of socialization and childcare have made a point to deliver the norms and values of a society onto the child and ensure social conformation to an extent. They help to maintain a balance in the society through the various sanctions. Today, about 70% of parents place their young children in some type of daily care.
Whether you choose in-home or center-based care, a preschool, or someone else’s home for your child’s daily care setting, you should follow some specific guidelines to ensure receiving quality, professional care. On the other hand, some parents prefer the one-on-one contact an in-home care provider can offer, especially for an infant.
Parents or couples with full-time careers may find that their work schedules require them to hire an in-home care provider for their child. Trying to juggle overtime, business trips, and childcare demands can be impossible without live-in help. If you do hire a nanny or au pair, seek the services of licensed agencies with experience, and make sure you understand their policies regarding caregiver vacations and sick time.
You’ll want to know that if the caregiver gets sick or is away, a capable, trustworthy substitute is available. A nanny is someone who works on a live-in or live-out basis performing childcare and perhaps some minimal household duties related to childcare. Usually unsupervised during the day, the nanny has a workweek that is typically 40 to 60 hours. Many nannies hired through agencies have at least a small amount of training in caring for young children, but not all agencies require it.
An Aupair also provides in-home care and lives with the family and cares for the child under the direct supervision of the parents. He or she often seeks work far away from home, as a kind of cultural learning experience. Au pairs often assist with light housework and work about 40 to 60 hours per week. Au pairs, who usually are young, may or may not have any childcare training or experience.
Research on child care is largely conducted and published in sub-specializations, each with its own perspective, as reflected in the reviews. McCartney describes child care research as evolving in stages; from simple comparisons of children in and out of care to analyses of the effects of quality controlling for family characteristics to examinations of the joint influences of child care and family contexts.
Ahnert and Lamb tend to focus on children’s relationships with parents, other caregivers, and other children. The fragmentation of research by specialization limits the clarity of conclusions from their review. Yet, all of the authors recognize the need for research to become more multidisciplinary and to encompass the broader social ecology if it is to increase our understanding of the effects of child care on development.
What contributes to high-quality child care? The NICHD found that high-quality care was related to the amount of “positive caregiving” provided, which means that caregivers or teachers:
Show a positive attitude
Have positive physical contact with the children
Respond frequently to the children’s vocalizations
Encourage the children
Sing songs and read books
Encourage and advance the children’s behavior
Discourage negative interactions
The language used by the caregiver was the most important factor that predicted children’s cognitive and language outcomes.
Of all of these factors, the language used by the caregiver (e.g. making interested comments in response to what children say, asking questions, responding to vocalizations) is the most important factor that predicted children’s cognitive and language outcomes .
However while, Parents cannot assume that all child care centers are of high quality, and should look for the “positive caregiving” qualities above when choosing a child care. The NICHD provides a “Positive Caregiving Checklist” to guide parents in selecting high-quality child care. The media on the other hand states, “Women whose mothers worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility for those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time, according to research by Kathleen McGinn and colleagues,” writes Carmen Nobel on behalf of HBS. The media gobbled it up, churning out headlines such as, “Working moms have more successful daughters and more caring sons” and “The antidote to mother guilt.” Justifying the working moms and their choice of sending their kids to daycare centers.