Child care, otherwise known as day care, is the care and supervision of a child or multiple children at a time, whose ages range from six weeks to thirteen years. Child care is the action or skill of looking after children by a day-care center, nannies, babysitter, teachers or other providers. Child care is a broad topic that covers a wide spectrum of professionals, institutions, contexts, activities, and social and cultural conventions. Early child care is an equally important and often overlooked component of child development. Child care providers can be children's first teachers, and therefore play an integral role in systems of early childhood education. Quality care from a young age can have a substantial impact on the future successes of children. The main focus of childcare is on the development of the child, whether that be mental, social, or psychological.In most cases children are taken care of by their parents, legal guardians, or siblings. In some cases, it is also seen that children care for other children. This informal care includes verbal direction and other explicit training regarding the child's behavior, and is often as simple as "keeping an eye out" for younger siblings. Care facilitated by similar-aged children covers a variety of developmental and psychological effects in both caregivers and charge. This is due to their mental development being in a particular case of not being able to progress as it should be at their age. This care giving role may also be taken on by the child's extended family. Another form of childcare that is on the rise in contrast to familial caregiving is that of center-based child care. In lieu of familial care giving, these responsibilities may be given to paid caretakers, orphanages or foster homes to provide care, housing, and schooling.
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Professional caregivers work within the context of a center-based care (including creches, daycare, preschools and schools) or a home-based care (nannies or family daycare). The majority of child care institutions that are available require that child care providers to have extensive training in first aid and be CPR certified. In addition, background checks, drug testing at all centers, and reference verification are normally a requirement. Child care can consist of advanced learning environments that include early childhood education or elementary education. “The objective of the program of daily activities should be to foster incremental developmental progress in a healthy and safe environment and should be flexible to capture the interests of the children and the individual abilities of the children.” In many cases the appropriate child care provider is a teacher or personal with educational background in child development, which requires a more focused training aside from the common core skills typical of a child caregiver.
As well as these licensed options, parents may also choose to find their own caregiver or arrange childcare exchanges/swaps with another family.