There are many different views as to how a child should be reared or nurtured, the topic of child care often involves controversial social and political issues. For instance, it may raise complex questions about a child’s religious upbringing or whether a child should be disciplined by corporal punishment. Some people believe that providing child care outside the home undermines so-called traditional family structures in which the mother is considered the primary caretaker.
Others are concerned primarily with broadening community responsibility for children and removing barriers for women who wish to enter and participate fully in the labor force. In addition, the term child care encompasses a wide range of services. It can include home-based care by a child’s mother or father, care by a grandparent or other relative, care by a nanny, or care by an organized licensed facility or family center. It can also involve early childhood education such as that offered by nursery schools.
Where parents are missing or dead, or unable or unfit to care for children, state agencies such as social services may take on the childcare role. Most Western countries also have compulsory education, and during the time the children are at school, wealthy people who prefer the services of professionals may delegate the parental role almost completely to nannies.
Â Many states also regulate the qualifications and training requirements for child care workers and require child care centers to determine whether a job applicant or worker has a criminal record or has been listed in the state’s child abuse registry. Some states, such as Arkansas and South Carolina, in some circumstances allow corporal punishment of children in their licensed day care centers. Day nurseries were privately run and charitable in nature, and were intended to provide custodial supervision, hygiene instruction, and nutrition services.
Though, for many the use of paid childcare is a matter of choice with arguments raging on both sides about whether children suffer or not. There is no doubt that for all children the first few years are vitally important to form a basis for good education, morality, self-discipline and social integration. Consistency of approach, skills and qualifications of careers and community ownership have been shown in many studies to improve the chances of a child reaching his or her full potential.
The regulation of child care facilities and caregivers on the state level varies considerably. A state may require a child care center to obtain a license in order to operate, or it may mandate certain minimum standards for all child care facilities. Currently, every state requires that space for a child care facility be “adequate” or of a certain specified size. Most states exempt certain child care centers from regulations or licensing requirements. Religious or church-based day care centers, as well as small home-based day care programs, are often exempt from regulations or licensing requirements other than basic health and safety regulations. In addition, private day care groups or associations may set goals for quality child care and may provide certification or accreditation programs for member centers.