Childcare and daycare

Some refugee and immigrant parents have never had someone else take care of their children. But in the USA, you may have to use childcare while you work. This can be hard for parents. Learn about childcare choices and how to find the best childcare for you and your child.

teenage girl holding baby

Many refugee and immigrant mothers have never worked outside of the home or used childcare. Instead, their primary responsibility has been to take care of their children and their home. In the USA, women and men both work outside of the home. To have enough money, you will probably have to work outside of your home, especially if you are a single parent household.

Sending your children to daycare can be sad or confusing. Here is some information to help you understand the different types of childcare in the USA. By learning about different types of childcare and how to find good childcare, you may feel happier about sending your children to daycare.

Can I manage without childcare?

You may find it possible to manage without professional paid childcare.

Sharing care with your spouse

If you are married, you and your spouse may be able to work different hours so that you do not have to send your children to daycare. This can save you money but it also means you might not see each other very much. This can also be hard for men from some cultural backgrounds, if they are not used to caring for their children at home.

Sharing care with other families

You may be able to find another parent who will “swap” childcare with you. This means you will watch their children one day and they will watch your children one day. This is a good idea if you have family, neighbors, or friends who have children close in age to your children.

Paid childcare


“Daycare” means the daily care of your children by someone other than you, typically outside of your own home. There are different types of daycares. One option is an in-home daycare. This means you send your child to somebody else’s home who watches the kids. Another is a daycare center. They are not in a private home, and they have more children at them.

Most daycares require you to register and to pay monthly. Some cities have drop-in day cares where you can bring your children for just a few hours.

State governments license in-home daycares and daycare centers. This means they check if the daycare is safe or not. The state also makes rules for daycares to follow. We recommend you choose a daycare that is licensed. Most states also have programs to help you find a daycare in your area.

To find licensed daycare in your community, search on the internet. Type in the words “licensed daycare in [name of your city]”


A babysitter is an individual whom you pay to watch your children. Most babysitters will come to your house. Sometimes teenagers will babysit. Only use babysitters you know and trust or who have been recommended by people you know and trust. You should ask your babysitter to take a CPR and First Aid class.

Free and low-cost professional childcare


You can send your children to preschool when they are about two years old. Preschools help prepare kids for school. The US has a national program, called HeadStart, which offers free preschool for low-income families. You can find a HeadStart program near you by searching the HeadStart locator.

Summer camps

During the summer, you may be able to find day camps to send your child to. In the USA, camps do not actually mean camping. Children go for the day and usually focus on a particular activity. For example, you can find sports camps, art camps, drama camps, church camps, etc. Almost all day camps will offer reduced fees for low-income families. Ask at the school or community center about summer camps.

As well as day camps, there are residential camps, where children go and stay for a week. These are likely to be for sports for other outside experiences. Some are for studying – for example for learning computer skills. Many summer residential camps also offer reduced fees for low-income families.

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After-school programs

If you need childcare before and after school, you should look into after-school programs. These programs will help your children adjust to their new schools, make friends, and get help with homework. Many schools will offer low-cost or free after-school programs for kids. There might even be specific programs just for refugee youth.

  • Ask at your child’s school to see if they know of any after-school programs that would be good for your child.
  • The Boys and Girls Club has clubs all over the USA. The YWCA has after-school programs and also offers childcare and Headstart programs. You can find YWCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs near you.
  • You can also search for a local organization in FindHello. Choose your language, then choose your city. Then select “Children & Teens.”
  • To find after-school programs in your community, search on the internet. Type in the words “after school clubs in [name of your city].”