My daughter is about to turn 1, and has been attending the same daycare since she was 3 months old, when I went back to work.
We currently use— A private non-denominational Christian daycare center, with a baby room (7 babies), a toddler room (15 toddlers), and a preschool (25 kids)
It costs (if you feel comfortable)— $46 per day, or ~$1k per month
This is the only daycare we have used.
What I liked about:
Day Care Centers— I love a lot of things about this daycare! I love that Dirty Delete gets to spend a lot of time interacting with children her own age. At this point, she is the oldest baby in the baby room and she is so bored of playing with babies and baby toys. She is ready to move up to the toddler room. One thing I find about in home daycares is that you’re probably going to have a wider range of ages all trying to play together, which is hard because kids develop so much during those first couple years … a 1 year old and a 2 year old will not want to play together at all! They have completely different interests. Dirty Delete spending so much time around children that are within a few months of her exact age is wonderful for her development.
I also like that there are so many different teachers rotating through during the day. It gets Dirty Delete used to being watched by a variety of caretakers, so she doesn’t freak out the minute I leave the room. Most of the teachers at the daycare are young women with no kids of their own, so clearly they’ve decided to work at this center because they have such a love of children. Also, the fact that they aren’t going home to a house full of their own children means they have a lot of patience and really enjoy playing with the kids, since they know that once their shift is over, they can be kid-free for the rest of the day. Some people might consider this to be a negative, but I really think it’s a positive!
I will admit that there can be some staff turnover, as the pay isn’t great and the girls are so young. One girl left to go to beauty school, another girl left to go back to college, a third girl left because she was pregnant and had a baby of her own. I don’t mind that people come and go, as long as the new people get to know the routines quickly. A new girl has been there in the mornings for the past two weeks, and she and Dirty Delete already absolutely love each other. The girl has complained numerous times that she will be really sad when Dirty Delete moves up to the toddler room. I like that. I never feel that Dirty Delete isn’t getting enough love during the day!!
In fact, part of me wonders if an in-home daycare would have more of a problem with this than a center. As PP pointed out, most in-home daycares are run by women with children of their own. So their focus might be more on their own kids, or they might just be plain sick of kids for the moment, or having a bad day, or whatever. I like that the daycare center has a more diversified staff so Dirty Delete is never subject to the moods and whims of just one person.
The main drawback, of course, is that policies have to be a lot stricter because they’re being applied to so many kids universally. This can be really annoying at times, and I’ve started threads to that effect in the past. But in the end, I think it’s worth the trade-off and I’m okay with dealing with some annoying policies in exchange for an otherwise wonderful daycare experience!