Finding the right child care provider takes work. And it takes asking lots of questions – from the practical ones about hours and meals to the personal ones about discipline and toilet training. As parents talk to providers, the most important question to consider is,"Will my child receive loving and careful attention?"
Local child care resource and referral agencies help parents form the questions that will guide them to quality, affordable care in a variety of settings, depending on family needs. Located in every county in California, R&R agencies are in constant contact with parents and providers. Parents can call for information about choosing child care, or for names of specific providers or centers in the region. A child care specialist is available at every R&R to consult with parents and to provide free referrals that meet the needs of each family.
Some California families qualify to receive financial assistance from the government to help pay for their child care. Local child care R&Rs can help families determine if they qualify for assistance.
Call 1.800.543.7793 or see our map to locate the closest R&R in your county.
Before calling the local R&R for help finding child care, parents should consider their needs in terms of fees, hours, and location, as well as other information that could help a counselor be of assistance in helping to find appropriate child care solutions.
There are many different types of child care; they differ by number of children being cared for at the same time, as well as by the type of provider. Some care is licensed by the State of California, some is not. Licensing does not guarantee quality, but it does provide guidelines for health and safety.
Family Child Care Home: care offered in the home of the provider, who is often a parent. The number of children a family child care provider can care for at one time depends on the ages of the children and whether or not there is an assistant or a second provider. A family child care provider often cares for children of different ages. Family Child Care Homes are licensed by the State.
Child Care Center: a facility that can provide care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children all or part of the day. Although generally larger than family child care homes, centers may be large or small and can be operated independently or by a church or other organization. Child care centers are sometimes called "nursery schools" or "preschool programs." Child Care Centers are licensed by the State.
In-home Care: care provided by a friend, relative, babysitter, or nanny in the child's home, full time or part time. This kind of care is not licensed, but in-home care providers can use TrustLine, (www.trustline.org) a registry of providers who have submitted their fingerprints to the Department of Justice and have no disqualifying child abuse or criminal convictions in California.
Home Care Provider: care provided for children from only one other family besides their own. Children go to the provider's home for care. There is no licensing for these providers. TrustLine is available to provide background information about home care providers.
TrustLine: a registry created by the California Legislature as an important tool for parents to use when selecting an in-home or home care provider for their children. All child care providers listed with TrustLine have submitted their fingerprints to the California Department of Justice and have no disqualifying criminal convictions in California. In addition, some but not all, child care providers listed with TrustLine have also received a clearance from an FBI criminal record check. For more information about TrustLine, visit www.trustline.org, or call 1.800.822.8490 (within California) or 415.882.0234 (outside California).
When considering a provider:
Interview and observe the potential provider with the child.
- Explore why this caregiver wants to care for children.
- How does s/he feel about this work?
- Is this person warm, caring, attentive, and responsive to the child who will be in this care?
Ask the potential provider:
- What do they like to do with children?
- What are their feelings about discipline?
- How do they handle naps, eating, toilet training?
- How they would handle an emergency?
Ask a lot of "what if" questions, for example:
- What if my child cries all day?
- What if my child refuses to eat?
- What if my child refuses to nap?
- Check references and work history.
- Trust your instincts! Hire someone you like. Hire someone your children like.
Once you have found a good provider, be sure to:
- Communicate regularly and openly about how the child care arrangement is working.
Remember, good child care is a partnership!