5 top childcare options: cost and value, from day care to nanny

Which childcare option is right for you?

5. Relative

Martha Humphrey (r.) with her grandchildren Billy (center) and Annie (l.) John Nordell

The US Census Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) shows there are almost twice as many children aged five and younger cared for by relatives than by day care centers and nursery schools combined. It found that some 4.6 million children under age five have regular childcare arrangements with a grandparent. (Another 7 million get care from siblings or other relatives, or employed parents who trade off while the other works.) And half of these grandparents take care of their grandchildren for more than 12 hours a week, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies found in a 2008 study.

COST: Generally free. (Only 19 percent of families with children age six and younger who receive grandparent care pay for it, according to a research brief by the organization Child Trends.)

PROS: Who better than Grandma to love your little one almost as much as you?

CONS: Are your child’s grandparents physically up to the task? Chasing a toddler is hard; it’s important for everyone involved to be realistic about what grandparents can and can’t do. Are they willing to embrace your childcare priorities and safety standards, or will discussions about car seat usage, say, cause battles – or fall on deaf ears? (A study last year in the journal Pediatrics found that 25 percent of kids driving with grandparents were not in car seats – although they also found that children riding with grandparents were less likely to be hurt in an accident.) Will having grandparents care for your children cause tension in the family?

5 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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