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Private Care and Maternity Leave

Are you moving to the US with young children? Do both you and your spouse work? Then you will probably need to find childcare in the US. Our article guides you through the different available options, enabling you to make the best choice for your family.
US law guarantees only 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.

Private Care

If your budget or your child-care options are limited, you can also fall back on private caregivers such as friends, family members or neighbors. In this manner, you can control where and when your child will be placed in care. The caregiver will be someone whom you know personally, who will often share the same values and similar parenting tactics.

Private caregivers are not regulated by the state. Only a few states require them to provide a criminal history background and/or child abuse and neglect clearance. Other states expect caregivers to complete at least some minimum health and safety training.

Accreditation and Licensing

Accreditation and licensing are accessible ways to insure the quality of the care your child is going to receive. Child care homes and daycare centers can choose to receive an accreditation by an official organization. Those homes and centers then have to agree to fulfill more than only the minimum requirements which the state has set for them. Here, the standards focus especially on the educational programs of each center; the caregivers’ qualifications and professional experience, as well as parents’ opinions, play an essential role in this process. The Association for Early Learning Leaders provides a lot of information on their accreditation guidelines.

Every child care center must have a license issued by the state. These requirements, however, vary throughout the country. Such licenses simply guarantee that the child care center you have chosen adheres to certain health and safety standards and that it employs trained professionals with a certain amount of child care experience. It is illegal for any institution to offer child care unless they have an official state license. Annual check-ups guarantee that child care centers meet those necessary requirements.

Maternity Leave and Financial Support

If your child is about to be born, other questions have to be answered before you can focus on the right child care for your little bundle of joy. Not every country has the same regulations when it comes to paid or unpaid maternity leave. In 1993, the US government passed a law which allows you to take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. During this period, your job is fully protected by law and you still have access to all the benefits your employer grants you. However, this leave does not have to be paid. Talk to your employer and find out what the company policy is.

Moreover, the US does not offer general financial support for children or their education. If your salary is relatively low and you are eligible for social security payments, you can apply for child care subsidies. The rules and regulations for these sorts of government benefits are different in each state, so get in touch with your state officials for more information. (Usually, the official websites of the various state governments provide some general resources on child care and financial support for parents with children.)

Children with parents who suffer from disabilities or have retired and are eligible for social security payments can claim child benefits until the children have turned 18. The same benefits apply if the parents have already passed away. In the best case, you have a good income, are fit as a fiddle and never need to claim these benefits for your child. But at the end of the day, it is always good to know what options you may have in case something does happen to your family’s bread-winner.

US Child Care: Further Information

For more information on US child care and lists of licensed and accredited child care centers, you can have a look at these organizations and their websites. They also provide further information on everything you need to know about early childhood development and pre-school education.


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