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Quality Child Care

Choosing Quality Child Care

Raising your child is the most important job you, as a parent, will ever have.  Selecting a qualified childcare provider is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.  Use this handout as a guideline when considering a childcare provider:

Characteristics of Quality

  • Settings that are safe, provide small-group sizes, and have adult-to-child ratios that encourage the best opportunities for development.
  • Caregivers or teachers who have experience and are trained in early childhood development.
    • Settings that offer opportunities for meaningful parent involvement.
    • Learning materials and teaching styles that are age-appropriate and respectful of children’s cultural and ethnic heritages.
    • Learning opportunities that promote children’s success in school.


About the Program

  • What is the adult-to-child ratio?
  • Are there opportunities for parents to get involved?
  • Is the information shared about how you can support your child’s learning at home?
  • Are the children allowed to watch television? If so, how much and what types of programs?
  • Is transportation to and from school provided?
  • Does the provider’s discipline method match yours?
  • What is the daily routine? Is it too strict?  Too relaxed?
  • Are there plenty of materials and a variety of items for your child to play with?
  • When applicable, how does the provider accommodate children with special needs?


About the Environment

  • Is the home or facility clean, safe, cheerful and interesting, but not over-stimulating?
  • Are there separate areas for diapering, sleeping, resting, and exploring?
  • Is there adequate indoor and outdoor play space for children?

Ask the following questions if your child is or will be in a family child care home:

  • Are firearms kept in the house? If so, are they kept in a safe place away from children?
  • Are cleaning supplies and medications locked in a high cupboard?
  • If the provider has a swimming pool, is there a four-sided fence with a locked gate?

About Your Child’s Progress

After you select a provider, drop in unannounced or call to find out how things are going.  Consider the following:

  • Ask your child about his or her day. Is he or she happy and adjusting well?
  • Does your child look forward to being with the provider?
  • Are you visiting at different times throughout the day, and do you feel comfortable with the routine?
  • Is your child learning anything new?


Child Care Referral Options

Quality child care can be found in a variety of settings.  Take into consideration the type of child care setting you choose to meet your child’s needs and your family’s preferences.  The following care options are available:

  • Licensed Child Care Centers.  Childcare centers are licensed by the state of California to care for 12 or more children in a group setting. Centers are usually located in public and private schools, religious facilities, or buildings owned or leased by the provider. 

Some centers are considered licensed exempt.   They fall under this profile when they are affiliated with a governing body eligible to take on the centers accountability.  Some of these centers are before and after programs at school sites.

  • Licensed Family Child Care. Family child care is provided in the private home of a licensed caregiver for up to eight children with one adult or up to 14 children with one adult and one assistant provider.  This arrangement tends to be less formal and usually models a family-oriented atmosphere.
  • License-Exempt Centers (i.e., YMCA’s, some school districts)
  • Early Education Programs

Always remember to trust your instincts.  You know your child and what is best for his or her well-being.  If you have certain feelings, either positive or negative, chances are your child will feel them too.

Good childcare is a partnership!


-Adapted from Quality Child Care ∙ California Department of Education Child Development Division


“Oliver’s Law”

“State law requires licensed child day care facilities to make accessible to the public a copy of any licensing report pertaining to the facility that documents a facility visit or substantiated complaint investigation.  In addition, a more complete file regarding a childcare licensee may be available at an office of the State Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division.  You have the right to access any public information in these files.”


San Bernardino County Office (951) 782-4200                     

Los Angeles County Office (323) 981-3350


If you have any additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Selecting a Provider Video

Parental Access Video