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Family child care providers offer care for children in the provider's home. Although requirements vary from state to state, most states require family child care providers be regulated if they care for more than four children. Many states have a voluntary regulation process for providers caring for four or fewer children.
All states set minimum health, safety and nutrition standards for providers. Most states require family child care providers to have a criminal records check and/or child abuse and neglect clearance. Many states require providers to have pre-service and/or on-going training. Most states inspect family child care homes annually or on a random sample basis.
Parents choose family child care because they want to keep their children in a home-like environment. They prefer to relate to a single caregiver and believe that children are healthier, happier and more secure in smaller groups.
Some parents like having all their children in the same group, or trust what they learned about the provider from friends. Sometimes they choose family child care because they find it closer to home, less expensive or more flexible.