What Is the Difference Between a Childcare Center & a Daycare Center?

by Travis Wampler

The differences between a child care and daycare center are slim and the terms are usually interchangeable based on personal associations. However, the differences that allow people to associate the terms are usually found in the curriculum, structure, staffing and state regulations.


Child care centers, more associated with preschools, are educational environments with curriculum for all ages, including infants; whereas, daycares offer drop-in care, before and after school care, and are not curriculum based.

Licensing Requirements

State regulations govern licenses given to child care centers. These regulations vary by state and are dependent on child-to-teacher ratios and physical site characteristics.


Employees of child care centers often hold higher education credits with experience working and teaching young children; whereas, a daycare is often younger staff without education and experience requirements.

Classroom Experience

A child care center's turnover rate is often lower; therefore, a child's teacher will more than likely remain the same throughout his classroom experience. A daycare is often not divided into classrooms, thereby removing the classroom ownership experience.

In-Home Care Centers

Often home-based care programs maintain a daycare philosophy. As such, in-home centers are often not associated with educational child care centers, but they do exist in both forms.

About the Author

Travis Wampler began his writing career along America's forgotten highway, Route 66. His research received awards from the Association of American Geographers. Wampler has written comprehensive plans and grants for city planning departments and agencies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in geography from Southwest Missouri State University and a master's degree in information systems from the University of Phoenix.