Childcare vs Daycare: Is There a Difference?

childcare spelled out

Neither my husband nor I grew up going to daycare. We had no experience with it except for the nightmare that was Sunnyside Daycare on “Toy Story 3.”

That one movie made us vow that when we sought childcare for our children, it would not be a daycare center.

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What’s the Difference Between Childcare and Daycare?

Childcare and daycare are different, but one is not necessarily better than the other. Daycare is a facility that watches children during the day. Childcare is the act of taking care of children during any part of the day or night.

Looking for Quality Childcare?

Find affordable individuals (or facilities if you’re looking a daycare) to watch your children so you can put your mind at ease when you’re at work or having a date night.

The Difference Between Childcare and Daycare

a home daycare provider

What my husband and I didn’t realize as young parents were that daycare isn’t a bad word.

There are some negative connotations involved with daycare. People tend to picture institutionalized, corporate-run free-for-alls where children can lick each other, kick each other, and basically run roughshod throughout the building.

It’s an image reinforced by movies, television, and sensationalized news media. It is not one that is reflected in reality.

Still, daycare is not necessarily synonymous with childcare.

What is Daycare?

A daycare facility watches over children during the day. It may be a part-time or full-time daycare. Staff might be thoroughly trained in child development, or they could have the bare minimum qualifications.

In-home daycare is, likewise, a situation that is often used while parents are working and need someone to watch children on a set schedule and a regular basis.

Related: Why is Daycare So Expensive?

What is Childcare?

Childcare encompasses daycare as well as other types of care for children. Childcare might refer to nursery schools, preschools, babysitters, nannies, and relatives.

Childcare can even include the care given to children by their own parents, which explains why there are more positive connotations associated with the term “childcare” vs. the word “daycare.”

Early Childhood Education vs. Daycare

Early childhood education, or ECE, refers to high-quality care given to children between the ages of birth and about eight years old.

ECE centers might call themselves Early childhood centers, childcare centers, or nursery schools.

These facilities usually only hire people who are highly qualified in the field. They are often degree-holding caregivers with many years of experience.

Some ECE centers refer to themselves as a daycare, but this is becoming increasingly rare. Early childhood professionals want parents to know that children are provided with more than playtime and naps, which might be all that’s expected of a daycare center.

These types of childcare centers strive to teach children fundamental physical and mental tasks while they are in the facility.

Meanwhile, a daycare center doesn’t necessarily offer more than a safe haven for children. They might not teach small and gross motor skills or have time to learn about numbers and shapes.

Related: Montessori vs. Daycare Center

Are All Daycares The Same?

Not all daycares are the same. One place that calls itself a daycare doesn’t necessarily have the same offerings as the next.

Some daycare facilities have strict schedules and guidelines that children must follow during the day. They’ll ensure children have snack times, nap times, and play times that follow a rigorous schedule.

Others are more free and open. They might have an area for children to use as they please from the moment a parent drops them off to when they are picked up.

This is even more true of in-home daycares. When one person is in charge of several young ones, they don’t have as much time for one-on-one care.

Children might be given more independence from a young age, which isn’t always a bad thing. There are many ways that daycare has shown positive effects on social and emotional skills in children.

Which Should I Choose?

Don’t let Sunnyside Daycare prevent you from considering a place just because it has the word “daycare” in its name.

Instead, make your own decisions. Think about what you need, what you want, and what works for your family.

Make sure to take into account the hours that the facility is open. Also, consider the daycare cost because you may find the “perfect” daycare only to realize it costs twice your weekly paycheck.

My family ended up looking into DAYCARE CENTERS despite our misgivings, and I’m glad we did. While we didn’t use a typical daycare, we learned that there are many excellent places for families with varying needs. Daycare might have a bad connotation to some, but it’s not a bad thing.

Key Takeaways

DaycareChildcare
Primary definitionDaycare is a facility that watches your children during the day.The term childcare encompasses daycare as well as other types of care for young children, including day care, babysitting, and nannies.
Primary ObjectiveThe primary objective of daycare is to keep your child safe.At a minimum, childcare will keep your child safe. Childcare can also include early education programs depending on the facility you choose.
Staff QualificationsThe daycare staff may only meet basic minimum qualifications.A childcare staff may be degree-holding caregivers with many years of experience, depending on the type of childcare.
This is a summary table of childcare vs. daycare.

Daycare and childcare are not quite the same, but they both offer quality care for your children.

Do you have a preference for or against daycare? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Looking for Quality Childcare?

Find affordable individuals (or facilities if you’re looking a daycare) to watch your children so you can put your mind at ease when you’re at work or having a date night.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Daycare and early childhood programs are not the same thing. Daycare teachers are focused on keeping your child safe, not necessarily educating them. Early childhood educators will also keep your child safe and focus on teaching your children.

The term is not offensive, but depending on the program, it may not represent the services provided. For example, preschool does a lot more than just watching your child.