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Parents

Choosing Child Care

Last Updated: 6/8/2017

Types of Child Care

When looking for child care, families can become overwhelmed at the options available to them. There are many types of child care options to choose from and it is important that you find a Child Care Provider and Program that best fits your child and family’s needs. Contact Child Care Links at 925.417.8733 or click HERE to receive list of child care programs in your area.

State Licensed Child Care Centers

Child Care Centers care are operated out of non-residential, commercial buildings and care for children in large groups, typically divided into groups or classrooms of similarly aged children with numerous staff members. Child Care Centers are more structured with classroom-like environments and may offer a variety of experiences and activities, due to an increased number of children and staff diversity.

Not all Child Care Centers are required to be licensed by the State Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing . A child care license is important, as it holds the Child Care Program to standards and regulations for health and safety; however, it does not guarantee child care quality. Having a child care license sets minimum health and safety standards and ensures that child care programs are regularly monitored for compliance with State regulations.

Examples of Child Care Centers that may not be required to be licensed include:

State Licensed Family Child Care Homes

A Family Child Care Home provides a home-like environment and cares for children in a residential building. Family Child Care Homes typically provide care to children of many ages and take part in a variety of experiences, activities, and family routines. Some Family Child Care Providers offer flexible child care hours for families that need child care during evenings and/or weekends. While not required, many State Licensed Family Child Care Home Providers complete college level classes in Early Childhood Education. Similar to Child Care Centers, Family Child Care Homes are also licensed by the State Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing which holds the Family Child Care Home to standards and regulations for health and safety. Regulations do not guarantee child care quality; however, it does set minimum health and safety standards and ensures that programs are regularly monitored for compliance with State regulations.

There are Small and Large Family Child Care Homes.

Early Head Start and Head Start Programs

Head Start Programs are free, federally-funded programs designed to promote school readiness to low income families with children under the age of five. Programs are required to follow extensive federal requirements and encourage parent involvement. Children in care are provided with comprehensive services, including free medical and dental care services, and healthy meals and snacks.

Click HERE to find out if you are eligible for services.
Click HERE to find a program in your area.

California State Preschool Program

California State Preschool Programs serve eligible three- and four-year-old children providing both part-day and full-day services. Families access this program by meeting specific income guidelines and other requirements. Comprehensive services include a developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate class curriculum.  The program also provides meals and snacks to children, parent education, referrals to health and social services for families, and staff development opportunities to employees.

License Exempt Child Care

License Exempt Child Care is commonly seen in child care that is provided by a person who is a relative, friend or neighbor, or a babysitter or nanny. These programs are typically legally exempt from regulations and not required to meet health and safety standards.

TrustLine is an essential step in finding the right License Exempt Provider. If a family chooses to use unlicensed child care, it is important to know the history and background of those that are providing child care. TrustLine is the only authorized background check in the state with access to fingerprint records at the California Department of Justice and the FBI. TrustLine will provide families with information regarding any criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse records in California that are connected to their chosen License Exempt Provider. 

To obtain an application to receive a background check on a License Exempt Provider contact 1-800-822-8490.

Choosing Quality Child Care

What does quality child care mean to you? There are many features you need to consider when choosing a child care program for your family.

Quality indicators include, but not limited to:
  -  Location, cost, and hours of operation
  -  Low teacher to child ratios
  -  Age appropriate learning activities
  -  Engaging and safe learning environments
  -  Activities that support physical, social and emotional growth
  -  Qualified staff with professional development opportunities

In Alameda County, there is another tool available to help families identify quality child care programs. Quality Counts rates, and supports participating Early Care and Education Programs in Alameda County. Quality Counts helps Child Care Providers improve their child care programs so that children are prepared for kindergarten and succeed in school and life. Participating Quality Counts Child Care Programs are rated by independent observers and earn a star from 1-5 for practices that are over and above licensing requirements in three areas:

  •  Child development and school readiness;
  •  Teachers and teaching;
  •  Program and environment.

Ratings are valid for two years, in which they then may be re-rated. For a list of Alameda County Child Care Programs that have been rated, click HERE

As a parent, you have the right to get information about any substantiated or inconclusive complaints about a Child Care Provider. This information is public and can be obtained by calling your local licensing office at 1.844.538.8766 or clicking HERE

Click HERE for a list of questions to help guide you through the choosing child care process.

Oliver’s Law

As a parent, you have the right to attain information regarding any and all substantiated or inconclusive complaints about a Child Care Provider. This information is public, and you can access this information by calling or visiting the Community Care Licensing office or website (see below).

Community Care Licensing
Main Line: 510.622.2602
Facility History Information: 1.844.538.8766
Complaint Hotline: 1.844.538.8766
Address: 1515 Clay Street, Suite 1102
                Oakland, CA 94612

Online Facility Search
https://secure.dss.ca.gov/CareFacilitySearch/Home/selecttype
This site contains five years’ worth of information on facilities. To get more information on any facility, including more details about any citations, please call the local Regional Office with the phone number listed above. Do not rely on this information alone to make decisions regarding facilities. Always visit facilities in person to ensure that it will be suitable for your child/children and family.

TrustLine

TrustLine is an essential step in finding the right License Exempt Provider. If a family chooses to use unlicensed child care, it is important to know the history and background of those that are providing child care. TrustLine is the only authorized background check in the state with access to fingerprint records at the California Department of Justice and the FBI. TrustLine will provide families with information regarding any criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse records in California that are connected to their chosen License Exempt Provider. 

To obtain an application to receive a background check on a License Exempt Provider contact 1-800-822-8490.


 

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