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One of a million child care decisions: daycare or dayhome?

One Of A Million Child Care Decisions: Daycare Or Dayhome? - Parents Canada

So you’ve decided you need child care. Perhaps you or your partner are returning to a work schedule or need the all-elusive ‘break’ from parenting once in a while. Or maybe you think your kid(s) could benefit from some peer interaction.

Congratulations, because you’ve already made it through some decisions! Now there’s another, especially if this is your first time considering child care: parents frequently wonder whether a day care or a day home is better. And it’s not really a fair question, because it really does depend. Kids are different (it only took me having two kids to really understand that point!). While one may thrive in the structure of a daycare, another may do better in a more home-like care setting. Or as kids get older, the type of environment they need may change.

First of all, let me emphasize how important it is to DO YOUR RESEARCH by attending Open Houses, asking lots of questions, and talking to parents using your potential providers. You need to understand the options and offerings before you will find the right fit. But for a general idea of what to expect from a dayhome versus daycare, keep reading.

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  • Run out of someone’s house and will likely feel much like being at home to your child once they settle in
  • Will likely have other children and perhaps their own with them – allows for interaction with kids of various ages (you can check maximum children allowed in dayhomes for your province through the government)
  • Wide variance on whether the caregiver will provide any structure, programming, outdoor time, meals and snacks, cribs or cots for sleeping, diapers/wipes, and what the overall setup of the home will look like – find out about routines, programs (if any) and what’s included
  • A dayhome may or may not be licensed and will follow different regulations depending on your province
  • Receiving an age-appropriate curriculum can be more challenging in a dayhome as there are different age groups to care for and usually one person is responsible for cleaning, cooking, dressing and caring for the children
  • No back-up: usually if a dayhome provider is away or ill, it will be your responsibility to have replacement child care in place
  • Tend to cost less than daycares
  • Choose the right dayhome, and you will end up with someone you trust that cares for children in a similar way to you


  • Run in a facility (building, community centre, church or school) with the purpose of providing designated spaces for child care and learning in an environment that more closely resembles what kids will see in school and other group activities
  • Larger and divided into designated spaces for different age groups so there is lots of peer interaction with activities and learning geared towards the children’s ages

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  • Wide variance on the offerings of each daycare so just like with a dayhome, research is needed
  • Daycares generally require a license to operate, meaning the government ensures they maintain a minimum set of standards from the government to ensure the health, safety and developmental needs of children; some may also be accredited, which is a voluntary set of standards that go above and beyond with educational and developmental opportunities
  • Teachers are often led by an experienced director and may be supported by cleaning staff, chefs and back-up staff so they can focus on care, curriculum and adapting learning to unique interests and skills
  • A daycare will be responsible to have staff coverage for vacations and sickness
  • May cost more to cover costs of space, teacher salaries, supplies for the children, field trips, food, utilities, etc.
  • Choose the right daycare, and you will end up with caregivers you trust that cares for your children in a similar way to you

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The Kids & Company mission is to innovate the lives of working families. Kids & Company does this through high-quality, flexible child care, innovative early learning programs and developing a sense of community and support for our families. We are proudly Canadian and have 90+ locations to choose from across North America.

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