Child Care: Child Care Guide


To guide you in your search for child care, please read this State of Michigan resource: A Parent's Guide to Early Learning & Care in Michigan  



Centers provide care for a number of infants or children in a group setting outside of a home.

NAEYC for Families -- Child Care and Preschool

Potential Advantages

  • Environment and staff responsibilities are focused on child care.
  • Teamwork can promote a positive atmosphere and spirit of cooperation.
  • Staff emergencies do not affect center's hours.
  • There is more than one adult to care for children.
  • Centers are more likely to provide a written account of an individual child's activities.
  • A center is more likely to have connections with other community resources.

Potential Challenges

  • Exposure to larger numbers of people increases the risk of illness.
  • A center may have a more institutional atmosphere.
  • A center may require more conformity and routine than home care, resulting in less flexibility.
  • Changing shifts and staff turnover may affect relationships between the child and primary caregiver.
  • There may be communication gaps due to multiple providers.


Home-based care is a form of child care in which providers care for children, often of different ages, in their own homes or the homes of the parents.

Licensed Family/Group Home Child Care: A family child care provider cares for up to 6 unrelated children in his or her home. A group provider has up to 12 children and must have an assistant if there are more than 6 children or more than 2 infants and/or 4 toddlers.

NAFCC for Parents -- What is Family Child Care?

In-Home Care
: A provider is hired to care for the children of one or more families in a child's own home. This option includes au pairs and nannies.

Potential Advantages

  • The setting is more home-like than a center.
  • Individualized care is more likely.
  • Parents and children can benefit from a sense of an extended family.
  • There are more opportunities for multi-age interaction.
  • Continuity and bonding with the same primary caregiver is possible.
  • A home may be more flexible in caring for children with minor illnesses.
  • A home may accommodate a parent's need for longer or unusual hours.

Potential Challenges

  • Provider may work alone, unobserved by others. Long hours can cause stress and fatigue.
  • Handling emergencies can be more difficult if only one adult is available.
  • Provider illness and family emergencies can leave a parent without child care unless a backup is planned.
  • Provider may not have the resources or expertise to provide an age appropriate environment for several different age groups.
  • Inexperienced providers may go out of business after a short time.


Child care centers and family/group child care homes should be licensed/registered by the State of Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Child and Adult Licensing. Always check to ensure a center or home has necessary licenses and meets regulations for staff qualifications and program structure.

In addition, always thoroughly review a center or home program's Inspection/Renewal Reports for violations, as well as any Special Investigation Reports. A program's most recent reports can be clicked-on as you search for child care on the online statewide databases. For a center or home program that you are seriously considering, older reports (3-5 years ago or more) are available via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the State of Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Child and Adult Licensing. You can request the center or home provider's "entire file" online, and those older reports will be mailed to your home:,4562,7-124-5455_27716-81177--,00.html

Regulations are only MINIMAL standards, not indicators of quality. Accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (centers) or the National Association for Family Child Care (homes) is an indication of meeting quality standards.

Portions reprinted with the permission of Child Care Network, Washtenaw County 4C