Childcare, Daycare, Preschool – What’s the Difference?

September 12, 2021

Parents who are looking for the ideal caregiver for their young children have a lot of options available to them, so the way you describe your care services matters. Many people think the terms “childcare,” “daycare,” and “preschool” are interchangeable, but early childhood education professionals know better. In this article, we will take a look at the meanings associated with each of these terms and discuss why it is important to choose the correct label as you market your services to prospective parents.

What’s the Difference Between Childcare, Daycare, and Preschool?

You may refer to your business as a childcare service, a daycare, or a preschool. You might even use all three of these terms! However, let’s consider the different meanings associated with each label:

Childcare – A very specific and descriptive term which indicates the exact nature of your business. Childcare is an all-encompassing term that applies to the at-home care of children, as well as the care of children in a commercial building. Childcare also envelops children of all ages, from infants to school-age. A childcare provider is dedicated to looking after the health and safety of the children in his or her care. Often childcare will include an educational component as well. Many childcare providers have earned degrees in Early Childhood Education. They are knowledgeable and experienced in early childhood development. They may use a specific educational philosophy or curriculum to foster learning and growth in the children under their care.

Daycare – A broad and generalized term which may indicate you are a provider of care for children. Daycare can also be used to indicate care for elderly adults or children or adults with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. The word “daycare,” implies that you offer care during the daytime, typically a business day, which may be a useful indicator for working parents. However, professionals who care for children may offer hours of operation in the evening hours, on weekends, and on certain holidays, in addition to regular daytime hours. Also, the term “daycare” is considered by some industry professionals to be outdated, failing to adequately address the professional nature of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field. Many providers have earned bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and beyond. The “daycare” label can carry a limited—even negative—connotation, suggesting these professionals simply offer a babysitting service. Often parents do not associate a daycare with a formal educational program.

Preschool – Another specific and descriptive term favored by many providers in the industry who wish to stand out as a favorable educational program for children. A preschool may or may not be affiliated with a grade school, but it offers a school-preparatory program for children ages 3 to 5. A preschool is typically led by qualified early childhood education professionals, follows an educational philosophy, and offers some kind of formalized programming or curriculum. Similar terms for a preschool are “Early Learning Center,” “Childhood Education Center,” “Children’s Academy,” or similar descriptive labels.

Do Childcare, Daycare, and Preschool Programs Have Similarities?

Yes, they do. Childcare, daycare, and preschool providers may have different meanings associated with these labels, as described above, but they all share a few similar characteristics:

  • In general, all three terms refer to care provided for young children, ranging from infants to school-aged children.
  • Regardless of whether you consider your business as a childcare service, a daycare center, or a preschool, you are required to operate your business with the appropriate state licenses.
  • All of these models for providing care for children can be marketed successfully to parents and grow a thriving business. Today, businesses that operate as childcare companies, daycare centers, or preschools, regardless of the label, have the potential to grow and thrive.

Why Should I Consider What Terms I Use to Market My Business?

It’s important to carefully consider what labels you want to use for your business for several reasons:

  • The words you use to describe your business can help you stand out from your competitors.
  • Your business label can attract the right potential customers and employees to your company.
  • Your descriptive words provide consistency and help you solidify your company mission, vision, and values—and communicate what you’re all about to the people who matter to you.

At the end of the day, it may not be a make-it or break-it situation if you find yourself occasionally going back and forth between calling yourself a childcare provider or a daycare provider. However, taking time to think about the kind of company you want to run, the kind of employees and customers you want to attract, and the values that are most important to you as an early childhood education professional, it can be a useful tool for taking your business to the next level.

Interested in gaining the professional expertise of accountants who work with childcare companies, daycare centers, and preschools who are committed to excellence and growth? Schedule a call with the Honest Buck Accounting team today!

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