From Academic Kids

Childcare is the act of caring for and supervising minor children.

It is traditional in western society for children to be looked after by one or both of their parents, but the need for two-job households means that childcare is often delegated, at least part of the time, to childminders or crèches.

Most Western countries also have compulsory education, and during the time the children are at school, the school will act in loco parentis.

Where parents are missing or dead, or unable or unfit to care for children, state agencies such as social services may take on the childcare role.

People with demanding work or social lives or who need or prefer the services of professionals may delegate the parental role almost completely to nannies.

However, for many the use of paid childcare is a matter of choice with arguments raging on both sides about whether children suffer or not. There is no doubt that for all children the first few years are vitally important to form a basis for good education, morality, self discipline and social integration. Consistency of approach, discipline and carer have been shown in some studies to improve the chances of a child reaching his or her full potential, but the jury is still out on whether there are demonstrable benefits of a parent or full time family carer over paid childcare.

Many organisations (in the developed world) campaign for free or subsidised childcare for all, others campaign for tax breaks or allowances to allow parents a non-finance driven choice.

Recent research indicates that government investments supporting quality child care programs help save money in the long run, by helping children get a better start on learning, and reducing the likelihood that those children will drop out of school or get involved in crime or juvenile delinquency.

Most countries have laws relating to childcare, which seek to prevent and punish child abuse.

In many societies, the childcare role is taken on by the extended family.


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