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Daycare or Dayhome? Learning about Childcare Options.

Published Jul 4, 2017 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a childcare provider for the first time. Check out the things to know about daycares versus dayhomes along with some tips for what to look for, from Kids & Company.

So you’ve decided you need child care. Perhaps you or your partner are returning to a work schedule or need the all-elusive ‘break’ from parenting once in a while. Or maybe you think your kid(s) could benefit from some peer interaction, stimulation or structure.

  • You may have heard of a lot of different options for childcare including: 
  • daycare (facility-based programs that offer part-time or full-time care for infants, preschooler and kindergarten age kids)
  • approved family day homes (care in private residences under an agency)
  • private babysitters (dayhomes that do not work with an agency and are fully un-monitored)
  • group family child care (care in a private residence with multiple caregivers)
  • pre-school programs (programs offering four hours or less per day for pre-school children)
  • nannies (individual employee who provides childcare in your home)
  • out-of-school programs (before and after school for school-age children)

For parents seeking childcare for the first time for their young kids, two common choices are a dayhome or daycare.

First of all, do your research by attending Open Houses, asking lots of questions, reading online reviews and talking to parents who use your potential providers. There can be a lot of variance between what is offered at different places even within the same care category. But here are some general things to expect from dayhomes, daycares and nannies:


In Alberta, dayhomes with six or less children are not required to be licensed, and unless they are an approved family day home, they are considered a private babysitter and not monitored by the Government of Alberta. A dayhome that is an approved family day home will display the official trademark of the smiling red door. 

  • Run out of someone’s house and will likely feel much like being at home to your child
  • May have other children and perhaps their own with them which can provide interaction with kids of various ages 
  • Wide variance on whether the caregiver will provide any structure, programming, outdoor time, meals and snacks, cribs or cots for sleeping, diapers/wipes, and what the overall setup of the home will look like – find out about routines, programs (if any) and what’s included 
  • Receiving an age-appropriate curriculum can be more challenging in a dayhome as there are different age groups to care for and usually one person is responsible for cleaning, cooking, dressing and caring for the children
  • No back-up: usually if a dayhome provider is away or ill, it will be your responsibility to have replacement child care in place
  • Tend to cost less than daycares 


Daycare programs in Alberta are facility-based and typically offer care Monday to Friday to cover working hours for parents with children aged infant to school-age. Daycares require a license to operate, meaning the government ensures they maintain a minimum set of standards from the government to ensure the health, safety and developmental needs of children

Stronger daycares will also feature stimulating development programs in place and will be accredited by the province: this means they follow the standards of excellence that reflect current research and leading practices to provide high quality child care over and above licensing regulations for children from birth to 12 years of age.

  • Run in a facility (building, community centre, church or school) with the purpose of providing designated spaces for child care and learning in an environment that more closely resembles what kids will see in school and other group activities
  • Larger and divided into designated spaces for different age groups so there is lots of peer interaction with activities and learning geared towards the children’s ages
  • Wide variance on the offerings of each daycare so just like with a dayhome, research is needed – check out the tips below for what to look for in a daycare provider
  • Teachers are often led by an experienced director and may be supported by cleaning staff, chefs and back-up staff so they can focus on care, curriculum and adapting learning to unique interests and skills
  • A daycare will be responsible to have staff coverage for vacations and sickness 
  • May cost more to cover costs of an engaging space, teacher salaries, supplies for the children, field trips and food

Kids & Company is a high-quality early learning and childcare provider founded to create a rewarding experience for Canadian families with great programming, flexible hours and schedules, and all the details taken care of! They offer part-time and full-time care for infants all the way up to ‘big kids’ (before and after school) plus day camps, birthday parties and special events. Kids & Company also partners with top-tier corporations who offer childcare assistance, emergency back-up care and priority registration to their employees in addition to other benefits.

Find out more about their unique offering at www.kidsandcompany.com.

SPECIAL OFFER: Mention this article to Melissa at msawatzky@kidsandcompany.com when you register at any Kids & Company location and we will waive the registration fee of $150. (One waved registration per family for a newly registering child before December 31, 2017. Location and start date subject to availability.)

By Melissa Sawatzky
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