Childcare Terminology

 

 

Definitions

 

The following table provides definitions for the terms that are used in the discussion of day care and child care. Some of these terms are from a specific early care and education resource and are cited accordingly.

 

After-School Child Care

Child care programs provided before and after school, during summers and on school holidays for children from kindergarten to age 13. Programs are also referred to as school-age child care. *

 

Babysitting

Care provided in a child's home on a short-term, intermittent basis. The primary purpose of babysitting is to keep children safe. Babysitting does not have the learning component that is integral to child care, and is not regulated like out-of-home child care.

 

Child Care Center

A center licensed or otherwise authorized to provide child care services for fewer than 24 hours per day per child in a non-residential setting, unless care in excess of 24 hours is due to the nature of the parents' work.

 

Child Care

Regular, supervised, and paid care and education of children from birth to age 13 years outside of the child's home while their parents are at work, at school, or in training. It is available to parents during work hours and throughout the year.

 

Day Care

Regular, supervised, and paid care and education of children from birth to age 13 years outside of the child's home while their parents are at work, at school, or in training. It is available to parents during work hours and throughout the year.

Regular, supervised, and paid care and education of adults outside of their homes. It is generally available during work hours and throughout the year.

 

Family Child Care

An individual who provides child care services for fewer than 24 hours per day per child, as the sole caregiver, in a private residence other than the child's residence, unless care in excess of 24 hours is due to the nature of the parents' work.*

Additional information is available in the document, Definition of Licensed Family Child Care Homes, in the Licensing Regulations topic under the Popular Topics section of the National Child Care Information Center Web site at

 

Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care

Child care that is provided by family, friends, and neighbors. It is also referred to as kith and kin care or as license-exempt care. In some cases, it may also be called informal care.

 

Group Home Child Care

Group home child care is two or more individuals who provide child care services for fewer than 24 hours per day per child, in a private residence other than the child's residence, unless care in excess of 24 hours is due to the nature of the parents' work.

 

Head Start and Early Head Start

A comprehensive child development program that serves children from birth to age 5 years and their families. It is a child-focused program and has the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families. The Head Start program is administered by the Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. All Head Start programs must adhere to Program Performance Standards.*

With the reauthorization of the Head Start program in 1994, the U.S. Congress established a new program for low-income families with infants and toddlers and pregnant women called Early Head Start. The Early Head Start program provides resources to community programs to address such needs and to achieve the purposes set forth by Congress.

 

Infant and Toddler Care

Child care for children from birth to age 3 years.

 

In Home Care

Child care that is provided in a child's home.

 

Licensing/Licensed

Child care programs operated in homes or in facilities that fall within the regulatory system of a State, community, or Tribe and comply with those regulations. Some States may call their regulatory processes certification or registration.

 

Nontraditional Hours

Care provided to children at times outside of the traditional work day, e.g., during the hours between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., and between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.* 

 

Nursery School

Programs designed for children who are ages 3–5 with early education experiences to prepare them for school. Programs are also referred to as preschool and/or prekindergarten programs.

 

Part-Day, Part-Year Programs

Programs that occur for less than a full school day during the academic year. 

 

Prekindergarten

Programs designed for children who are ages 3–5 years with early education experiences to prepare them for school. Programs are also referred to as preschool and/or nursery school programs.

 

Preschool

Programs designed for children who are ages 3–5 years with early education experiences to prepare them for school. Programs are also referred to as prekindergarten and/or nursery school programs.

 

School-Age Child Care

Child care programs provided before and after school, during summers and on school holidays for children from kindergarten to age 13 years. Programs are also referred to as after-school child care.

 

 

*Source: Child Care Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). Child Care and Development Fund report of state and territory plans, FY 2006-2007. Washington, DC: Author.