Group of cute kids sitting together in forest and looking at camera. Cute children playing in woods.

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Many working parents rely on childcare to educate and take care of their children while they are at work. Childcare benefits the children by improving their cognitive development, language development, and relationships with peers (Shpancer, 2016). While quality time at home and children’s relationships with their parents or parental figures are still very important for children’s development, childcare can also aid their development. 

There are many aspects to consider when choosing childcare. The overarching aspect to find is whether the childcare is high quality or not (Michigan State University WorkLife Office, n.d.d, p. 4). Generally, the higher quality the childcare is, the better the child’s developmental outcomes. Caregivers being warm, responsive, and sensitive to the children and their needs, quieter noise levels, and more caregiver education or training in early childhood education are all things that contribute to a higher quality childcare (Shpancer, 2016). Smaller adult-to-child ratios can also help create a higher quality childcare environment. A ratio of one adult to three children is good for infants, one adult to four children is good for toddlers, and one adult to nine children is good for preschoolers (Perlman et al., 2017). The childcare’s curriculum should adapt to accommodate children’s new skills, abilities, and interests as they grow, as well as provide opportunities to interact with different objects. These objects should provide experiences with hard and soft things, large and small things, the different senses such as music for hearing, colors for sight, and different textures for touch, and provide social interaction as well as the opportunity for solidarity (Dalli et al., 2011). Each of these aspects contribute to fulfilling high-quality childcare. 

Supporting employees with children in childcare helps them feel cared about in the workplace, as well as helps them accomplish their work tasks (Beck, 2017). There are some steps workplaces can take to make their environment more parent-employee friendly. First, setting regular start and end times to meetings helps reduce parental worries of being late for work duties or childcare duties (Beck, 2017). If meetings start after 9:30 am and end before 4:30 pm, employees can keep their energy and focus on their current responsibility, work, or childcare, since they are not distracted by the worry of being late. Additionally, making schedules predictable and alerting employees to schedule changes early can help them set and adjust their childcare as needed (Beck, 2017). Last, offer flexibility to employees. Allowing employees to adjust their work hours to when and where it works for them not only helps them manage taking care of their child but also adjust their work hours to when they are most productive and least distracted (Beck, 2017). Making workplaces more friendly to parent-employees helps them manage their work-life fit, as well as recruiting and retaining those talented employees.

At a Glance

Importance of childcare:

  • Allows parents to work
  • Improves children’s cognitive development
  • Improves children’s language development
  • Improves relationships with peers
  • Decreased conflict with caregivers
  • Parent-child attachment bond is not harmed by children participating in childcare

Choosing childcare:

  • High-quality childcare is important
  • High-quality childcare consists of:
    • Caregivers that are warm, responsive, and sensitive to the children and their needs
    • Smaller adult to child ratios
    • Quieter noise levels
    • More caregiver education or training in early childhood education
    • Curriculum of age-appropriate, structured learning activities that allow children to interact with different objects

How to help employees with children in childcare:

  • Set regular start and end times to meetings to reduce parental worries about being late for work duties or childcare duties
  • Make schedules predictable
  • Alert employees to schedule changes early
  • Offer flexibility to help employees manage their work and parental responsibilities

Resources on Campus

  • Spartan Child Development Center
    • Childcare located in Spartan Village for children aged 2 weeks through 6 years
    • Visit for more information
  •  WorkLife Office
    • The WorkLife Guide has a section on childcare, encompassing finding and choosing childcare, sick childcare, and emergency backup childcare. Visit this link to access the Guide
    • Two of many Resource Lists available through the WorkLife Office, “Childcare Resource List” and “Childcare Options Near EL,” may be helpful resources to hear others’ experiences and find a childcare location
  •   Great Start to Quality
    • can help MSU employees find quality childcare, eldercare, and household help and services, both at home and when employees are away, or when employees’ loved ones live far from them
    • MSU employees have free access to a free premium membership through to find childcare
    • Visit and enroll using your MSU NETID for access


Beck, J. (2017, April 14). How companies are making childcare less stressful for their employees. Harvard Business Review.  

Dalli, C., White, E., Rockel, J., Duhn, I., Buchanan, E., Davidson, S., Ganly, S., Kus, L., & Wang B. (2011). Quality early childhood education for under two-year olds. Ministry of Education New Zealand Government   

Michigan State University WorkLife Office. (n.d.d). WorkLife Guide. 

Shpancer, N. (2016). Nonparental childcare (Daycare). Encyclopedia of Mental Health (Second Edition), 202-207.  

Additional Resources: 

Siraj, I., Kingston, D., Neilsen-Hewitt, C., M., Howard, S., J., Melhuish, E., de Rosnay, M., Duursma, E., & Luu, B. (2018). Fostering effective early learning (FEEL) study. New South Wales Department of Education  

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