Day Care Centers Do More
Day care centers are doing a lot more than changing diapers and feeding kids nowadays ... they're also feeding the parents and cleaning their clothes, too!
Day care centers are offering more than just babysitting
services. Just ask Laarni Camerino, mother of three young boys. When she drops
off her kids at Palcare in Burlingame, Calif., she knows they get a good
education, take part in fun activities such as painting, and eat a nutritious
All the perks equally excite the 36-year-old mom. Shortly after
she brags about her 6-year-old son's ability to read at a second grade level,
the civil engineer gushes about the time she saves every night, not having to
prepare lunch and snacks, and to clean Tupperware from the day's meals.
Palcare's flexible and extended hours also give Camerino the
option to take a night off with her husband, to adjust work hours according to
her family's needs, and to have extra assurance that her kids are safe.
"Because parents are always in and out of there, I think it keeps the place
on their toes," she tells WebMD.
Camerino is one of a growing number of moms discovering the
benefits of today's child care. When parents bring their kids to The Little
Leprechaun Academy in Mason, Ohio, they can also drop off their dry cleaning,
get free Starbucks coffee, and, when they get to the office, check the center's
live classroom camera via the Internet.
At a handful of Primrose Schools, located mostly in the
southeastern and southwestern U.S., take-out meals, portrait-taking, and
fingerprinting of kids for safety files are part of the routine.
And there's more. Some day care centers across the country run
errands for families, give haircuts and manicures, provide immunizations and
medical tests, have doctor, dentist, and veterinary referral services, offer
parenting classes, organize community volunteer events, and host social
gatherings for parents.
Something useful, nothing new
It may seem surprising, but additional services are not new in
the child care world. Early education programs have traditionally supported
families, says Susan Aronson, MD, FAAP, a former member of the American Academy
of Pediatrics Board of Directors. She points to the federally-funded Head Start
program as an example of an organization that has had a strong commitment to
the family's overall needs.
Alan Simpson, spokesperson for the National Association for the
Education of Young Children (NAEYC), agrees. "Many early childhood
educators recognize that the children in their program need a lot more than
just early learning services," he tells WebMD. "Educators want to work
with families to make sure children are getting all the things they need to
foster their development."
What's new is apparently the resources used to assist families.
Aronson singles out web cameras, while Simpson points to the errands that some
day care centers run for parents.
The NAEYC does not keep track of child care programs that offer
additional services, but Simpson says there has recently been much discussion
at early childhood education conferences about novel ways to help families.
Lee Scott, a representative of the Primrose Schools, says the
extra services have arisen out of demand, and produce a win-win situation for
parents, kids, and centers. "We find our families are just rushing
constantly, and if we can ease some of that, it creates a good feeling about
the school, and of course, it creates customer loyalty," she tells