Home-Based vs. Center-Based Child Care: Which Work Environment Fits You?

home based vs center based child care

Have you ever checked your child into a daycare center or a home-based family care and thought it must be a promising industry? Well, you weren’t exactly wrong!

While childcare can be a rigorous profession, the demand is high and still growing. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for childcare providers to grow by 14 percent through 2022.

There are a handful of reasons individuals choose to pursue a childcare career. You might have a passion for caring for young ones and nurturing them into adolescents. Or perhaps you want to leverage the marketable skills you’ve acquired as a parent. Or maybe you’re just looking to eliminate the expense of finding care for your own children.

Whatever your reason is for choosing this career path, there’s still one more decision you need to make: home-based child care versus center-based child care. We connected with some childcare experts to diagnose the differences so you can choose which direction is best for you.

Home-based vs. center-based child care

“First and foremost, anyone interested in this field must be passionate about early childhood education (ECE) and establishing a life-long love of learning in children,” says Celeste Wilhelm Flaherty, a recruiter for Celebree Learning Center. She believes this is the most important trait a childcare provider must have. Children make the job worth it. The other benefits depend on the environment in which you choose to work.

Both settings have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to have a good understanding of each before choosing a side. Both will allow you to exercise your passion ECE but one may be better suited to your schedule and personality than the other. Keep reading to learn the facts about home-based versus center-based child care.

What to expect from a center-based child care environment

Working at a center has some major advantages. One of the most enticing perks of joining an existing childcare company is the possibility of receiving a benefits package, according to Flaherty. Her company offers their providers health insurance, 401k fund participation, paid time off and even a tuition assistance program.

“Plus there is a greater work/life balance when you do not work where you live,” Flaherty adds. Some people need that physical and psychological separation between work and home in order to maintain peace of mind.

"There is a greater work/life balance when you do not work where you live."

Another advantage is the fact that you’ll be working alongside other teachers, offering mature conversation and support. Flaherty explains that ECE strategies and philosophies are always evolving, so teachers must be avid learners themselves. Collaborating and learning from other teachers can help you develop as a professional.

However, some may view this close proximity to other teachers as a drawback, as it could make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. This interaction with other adults is something you won’t likely experience in a home-based child care.

“You need to be a little goofy, really,” says Mary Muhs, dean of the Rasmussen College School of Education. “The teachers who do really well in these environments are the ones who aren’t afraid to get down and dance with the children.”

Another disadvantage of working in a center is that you must be willing to adapt your personal philosophy, according to Muhs. At a center, the philosophy of education and activity plan is typically already in place, so you may need to adapt to a new way of thinking. She advises those who have strong opinions about ECE strategies to learn about a center’s approach before signing up.

What to expect from a home-based child care environment

Muhs has seen several ECE professionals choose the route of opening a home-based child care, also known as family care businesses. She says it’s a great opportunity to make a business out of something you’re already doing anyway.

“I wanted to be with my children and get to do what I love professionally,” says Natalie Marose, owner of My Friends Christian Child Care and Preschool. For people like her, the biggest benefit is being about to spend time with your own children while caring for others’.

"I wanted to be with my children and get to do what I love professionally."

“You become a big role model,” Muhs says. Home-based child care providers are often more involved in the children’s lives because they’re not being moved from room to room, teacher to teacher. This consistency is extremely beneficial for the children as well, according to Marose.

Another appealing aspect of a home environment is the ability to call your own shots when it comes to hours, rates, curriculum, vacations, etc. Being your own boss has its benefits, but it also come with drawbacks. With no director, board or other teachers, “the buck stops with you,” Marose says. It’s important to be prepared to interact with parents, remain open to criticism and take responsibility for incidents that may occur.

Another disadvantage to working in home-based child care is the long hours. Marose recalls working as long as 12 hours a day when she ran her family care business. Opening up your home for this extensive workday has the potential to cut into your personal and family time.

Choose your path

You should now have a better idea of which childcare environment aligns best with your personal proficiencies and preferences. Whichever side you decide in the debate of home-based versus center-based child care, you’re still one step closer to starting the satisfying career you’ve been seeking!

Do you think home-based child care is the right path for you? Check out this guide for opening your own daycare.

Are you leaning more towards center-based child care?  Here are some tips for landing a job at a daycare.

About the author

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a senior content manager who writes student-focused articles for Rasmussen University. She holds an MFA in poetry and worked as an English Professor before diving into the world of online content. 

Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits90 Credits180 Credits48 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTSStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREEStart HereMASTER'S DEGREEPURSUERSEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEEnd HereMASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS90 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNPMSNRN to BSNLPN to RN BridgeAccelerated BSNProfessional Nursing ADNPractical Nursing DiplomaPre-LicensurePost-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-maginify-glass icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-button icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-button icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows