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Child Care Options

The best type of child care for your child and family depends on your needs. There are three types of child care settings to consider:

  • Child Care Centers
  • Family Child Care
  • In-Home Child Care

Each has its own benefits and limitations. Learn more about your child care options below, or download our First Steps brochure | Primeros pasos: opciones de cuidado infantil (Spanish).

Child Care Centers

Child care centers provide care for groups of children. There are two types of child care centers: licensed and license-exempt. These centers may be Head Start, Early Head Start or Illinois Preschool for All Programs. These settings have more availability for children over two years of age and often offer:

  • Daily planned activities
  • Opportunities for building social skills
  • Staff trained in child development and CPR and First Aid
  • Consistent, year-round schedules that do not fluctuate

Family Child Care

Family child care is offered in the home of the child care provider. There are three types of family child care: licensed homes, group homes and license-exempt homes. Typically, this type of care offers:

  • A home environment
  • Daily planned activities
  • Opportunities for flexible schedules
  • Siblings cared for together
  • Care from a single, consistent caregiver
  • Mixed ages of children
  • More availability for infant care
  • Licensed providers are trained in CPR and First Aid
  • Lower staff-to-child ratios

In-Home Child Care

An in-home child care provider cares for your child in your residence. This caregiver could be a nanny, a relative, or an au pair. This type of care is not regulated by DCFS licensing standards. As a parent, you are the employer of the caregiver. In-home care offers:

  • The comfort and stability of being in their own homes for children
  • Potential for a more flexible arrangement
  • Individualized care
  • Ongoing care, even if your child is sick
  • Potential costs savings for families with several children requiring care
  • Control over selecting the individual(s) who will care for your child
  • Convenience of not having to take and pick up your child from another location

For more information, please call 312-823-1100, press 3 or email

Please complete the Child Care Referral Request Form if you’d like a Parent Consultant to contact you to assist in your child care search.

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