Unit One The Children and You
Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.
Today, the majority of American children
spend time being cared for by someone other
than their parents. Families rely on a variety
of child care services to meet family and work
needs. According to the United States Census
Bureau, over 60% of preschool-age children
participate in some type of preschool program.
The number of children participating in these
programs continues to grow, which has driven
up the demand for child care. Parents place their
children in early childhood programs for two
main reasons.
First, many parents like the rich learning
environment of a high-quality, developmentally
appropriate early childhood program. Brain
research shows that children learn from the
earliest moments of life. Their learning is
most rapid in the fi rst fi ve years. High-quality
programs stimulate learning in this period
(Figure 2.1). Studies show that children from
high-quality programs did better in primary
grades than other children in reading, math, and
social skills. They also get along with their peers
better and have fewer behavioral problems.
Second, parents who work outside the home
must provide for their children’s needs during
working hours. For this reason, parents may
enroll their children in early childhood programs.
Parents pay to provide safe and nurturing care
in a developmentally appropriate setting. In
high-quality programs, the child’s developmental
needs will also be met.
Distinct differences exist among the many
types of early childhood programs. These
programs may differ in their philosophies,
ownership, program offerings, and sources
of support. Programs also vary in size, staff
qualifi cations, hours of operation, facilities, and
fees. Finally, programs may differ greatly in terms
of quality, even when they are of the same type.
Some types of programs are more common
than others. All of them, however, should be
high-quality and designed to meet the needs
of young children. Studies show that properly
designed programs result in substantial long-
term gains. See Figure 2.2 for child care options
parents most often choose.
Family Child Care
A popular form of child care in the United
States provided other than by a relative or parent
is called family child care. In this type of program,
care and education are provided in the caregiver’s
home with a small number of children. Often
it is conveniently located in the child’s own
neighborhood. Most states require licensing or
registration for family child care homes. In those
states, operating without a license or registration
is against the law. The state could impose a
misdemeanor and fi ne. Family child care home
programs are often popular for infants and
toddlers, but children might range from infants to
school-age. Moreover, children may attend up to
12 hours per day.
Child Care Centers
Facilities that offer full-day children’s
programs are often called child care centers. This
has become the most popular type of program,
which focuses on care and education. The care
Figure 2.1 A challenging environment can help
children develop cognitively, emotionally, socially,
and physically.
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