A PARENT'S GUIDE
Looking for someone you feel you can trust to care for your child is an important step. Knowing what to look for can help you make the right decision. Here are questions to consider when choosing childcare.
- What does my child need?
- How do I start?
- What are my choices and how do I decide?
- How do I find the names of childcare providers in my area?
- What can I afford to pay for childcare? How much will it cost? What if I need help paying?
- How do I prepare my child to go to childcare or preschool?
- One of the most important parts of selecting a childcare environment for your child is to make sure that it fits your child’s personality and temperament. This brochure from Zero to Three, a website that focuses on the needs of young children, parents, and caregivers, will be invaluable in deciding what sort of place will work best for your child: Matching Your Infant or Toddler’s Style to the Right Childcare Setting (PDF), Spanish version (PDF)
- ChildCare Aware's Types of Care explains the different types of child care: child care centers, family child care, in-home caregivers, etc. Also available in Spanish. Here is a clear list of the steps you need to take when seeking childcare: 5 Steps to Choosing Quality Child Care.
The State of California Department of Social Services offers guidelines and advice to parents on finding licensed child care, as well as directions on how parents can report concerns which cannot be resolved with the caregiver.
How do I decide?
- The Community Child Care Council (4 C's) of Santa Clara County is a valuable resource in your search for the child care. Start your search with their "Tips on Choosing Quality Child Care."
How do I find the names of childcare providers in my area?
- The State has also established a search function to locate licensed family care homes and child care centers by location. Caution: Large family care homes (8+ children) must be searched by zipcode or last name, first name. You can also call 1-800-KIDS-793.
Contact information for caregivers is given, but addresses are not listed to protect the caregiver’s privacy. Listings include information on citations for immediate and potential hazards found during state inspections, and complaints filed against the caregiver.
Small family care homes (7 children or less) must be located using the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
In Santa Clara County the Community Child Care Council (4C’s) provides this information.
- Once you know what you’re looking for, you can plug-in to the 4 C's“On-line Child Care Search Tool” for listings of local providers.
- Some communities have city agencies that will assist you with finding childcare. These include Sunnyvale’s “Youth, Family, and Childcare Resources.”
What can I afford to pay for childcare? How much will it cost? What if I need help paying?
- You can use this Child Care Options Calculator from Child Care Aware to determine how paying for childcare will fit into your monthly budget.
- Child Care Aware also helps parents find information on locating quality childcare and childcare resources in their community. It routes you to childcare resources and referral services in your area..
- 4C’s (Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County) lists local "Free or Low Cost Child Care” programs.
- The Santa Clara County – Centralized Eligibility List supports families living in Santa Clara County who need help paying for childcare. Online resources help you determine your eligibility (based on income), lists participating childcare providers, and has an application form that can be filled out, then submitted by mail, fax or e-mail.
- Choices for Children, another local agency, offers financial assistance for childcare services to eligible families, and also a range of parent education classes.
How do I prepare my child to go to childcare or preschool?
- Talk to your child about what they will do, especially the daily routine and when you will be picking them up.
- Take your child on a visit with you to the site. Take enough time to allow your child to explore, play, and “get to know” the environment.
- Read books with your child about going to daycare and preschool. This "Child Care / Preschool Booklist" will help.
What do I do if I have a complaint about my child’s daycare or preschool?
Complaints concerning both family child care homes and child care centers in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, & Santa Cruz Counties should be reported to :
San Jose Regional Office of the Community Care Licensing Division Child Care
Carol Marcroft, Regional Manager
2580 N. First Street, Suite 300, MS 29-08 San Jose, CA 95131 (408) 324-2148 FAX (408) 324-2160
Further instructions on filing complaints can be found on this State Department of Social Services page