Glossary of Dependent Care Terms


A national approval system for high quality child care centers. Centers successfully meeting accreditation criteria receive official recognition from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). These criteria represent the current consensus of the early childhood profession regarding the definition of a high quality program for young children. Accreditation offers consumers a means of identifying quality programs. Accreditation also exists for family child care, though the criteria are currently under revision.


Adult Day Program

A program offering socialization and supervision for elders who are somewhat frail physically or mentally. May include recreational activities, a noon meal and the opportunity to interact socially with other people. Programs range from such social models to health based models offering more intensive nursing care, physical therapy, or a focus on care for special populations such as Alzheimer's patients.


Backup Care

Programs and services for parents or caregivers whose regular care arrangement is unavailable on a given day due to either unanticipated situations such as child, elder or provider illness or anticipated situations such as provider vacations and school holidays. Term encompasses both emergency care and care for mildly ill children/elders. Programs may be offered by the regular care arrangement, such as get-well rooms in child care centers, in the community, at the workplace, or in the home of the child/elder.


Child Care Center

New centers
New centers typically serve approximately 100-150 children, infants through school age. New centers will offer full and part-time care, vacation/holiday care, summer care, backup care, parent support programs, and family supportive policies. All new centers will meet or exceed NAEYC accreditation standards.

On-site or near-site centers
Companies may contract with a not-for-profit or a for-profit organization to run a center for company employees, own and operate their own facility, or construct a center and donate it to non-profit employee-operated groups.

Consortium centers are created by a group of employers, sometimes together with a community agency. The group may form a not-for-profit corporation to fund and run a center conveniently located to all firms contributing to the consortium.


Community-Based Home Care for Elders

To support an elder's functioning in their own or a caregiver's residence, outside of a residential facility. Can include volunteer in-home companions, transportation services, adult day programs, homemakers, home health aids, home delivered meals and other services.


Family Child Care/Family Day Care

Care for a small number of children offered in the home of the provider. Regulations vary regarding exemptions for registration and upper limits of children permitted. Most states which license or register such homes permit the care of up to six children in a home with one caregiver. Some states also permit group family child care homes to care for larger numbers of children if another provider is present.


In-Home Child Care

Care in a child's own home by someone the parent has employed - such as a baby-sitter, housekeeper, live-in student or nanny.


Intergenerational Program

A program can be called intergenerational if it (1) provides care for both children and elders; (2) uses elders as staff in child care programs or (3) uses children to visit, interact with, or assist elders. Center-based programs include scheduled interaction between children and adults. Educational programs encourage elders and children to complete projects and activities together.



The National Association for the Education of Young Children is the pre-eminent professional association for child care directors, teachers, and other professionals in the early childhood education field. The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of programs available to children ages birth through eight. NAEYC has over 70,000 members nationwide.


Quality Programs

Programs must meet established standards. Important quality indicators for dependent care programs include staff experience and training, staff-child and staff-elder ratios, group size, parent involvement, and developmental appropriateness of programs and activities.


Quality Initiatives

Training and accreditation courses are designed to "raise the bar" by improving overall level of quality to meet an established standard for children, in addition to better programs. Research shows that staff turnover and recruitment as well as the responsiveness of the program needs of working parents are enhanced through these programs.


Resource and Referral Program (R&R)

A service provided by an employer. Offers information, counseling, resource development, referrals and publications to employees seeking child care for children or elder care resources for parents or older relatives. The service is provided through community-based agencies having broad knowledge of local child and elder care resources and serving as the focal point for recruitment and training of providers.


Respite Care

Programs that assist family caregivers by offering regular or occasional breaks from caregiving responsibilities. May occur with volunteers or paid workers in the home, adult day programs, or overnight in nursing homes or hospitals.


School-Age Care

Before- and after-school programs take care of school-age children in a variety of settings such as elementary schools, community centers, or existing child care centers. These programs usually cover the daytime hours when school is not in session and may run during summers, school vacations, holidays, and snow days.


Vacation/Holiday Care

Programs for school-age children during the days when schools are typically closed but most businesses are in operation. Includes full week vacations such as spring break as well as one day holidays (Presidents' Day) and parent conference days.


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