I also think daycare CAN be good for SOME kids. Just like anything else, there's no absolutes.
During college I worked summers at daycare (and after while looking for a job). I worked the first summer at a large but family-owned daycare. It was OK, but I felt the classes were too big, the kids got moved between classes too often (baby room to ones, ones to pre-twos, pre-twos to twos, twos to threes... on up until K—3 and 4—6 grades) and there were too many variables. Like the couple teachers who were obviously there because that's all they could find to do to make money while getting care for THEIR kids, or the class with the completely out-of-control four year old who would go on rampages and push over large bookshelves - he obviously had needs of some kind that were not being met, but created a fearful situation for the other children (and teachers, one of whom was his mom!). The baby room was a calm, happy place full of well-cared for babies every time I was in there, the majority of the workers in there were grandmas who loved to rock, play with and feed babies.
The other daycare I worked for was a small family owned center. I felt that was a much better situation - class sizes were smaller, and the kids stayed in the same class with the same teachers for much longer. There was more turnover of children than teachers, though many of them stayed for years. Even once the child moved up, they were just in the next room over, and were able to see and interact with the old teachers daily, just as they had been seeing and interacting with the new teachers for a long time before moving. The teachers were able to become well-attached to the children, and get to know them individually. We were able to get to know the parents a bit as well, and tried our best to be partners with the parents in the childs care. Was it better than staying home with their parents? Well, no, not for most. There are situations, though, were this was the best practical scenario for some of the children. We had children of teen parents still in school, children in poor families where one parent HAD to work, children in single parent families where again the parent needed to work, and children in a home where one parent was being investigated for obvious abuse (though we were pretty sure they should have been investigating BOTH parents. We tried to provide a loving sanctuary for all the children, especially those.
). We loved each of those kids and took care of them as best we were able.
That was a long rambly way to say that daycare fills a need for many families, though I think the more family-like the better in most cases.
I'm planning to become a SMBC, so my child will have to go to daycare. I hope to find a small center or family daycare that can be a sort of second home for my child, where the adults truly care for the children and consider themselves partners with the parents.
Maybe I better start looking now!