Child Care Options


In California, 62 percent of kids under 5 spend at least part of their day with a caregiver. There are many different types of caregivers:


Each type of child care offers different advantages for you and your child. Also, different child care scenarios can be more expensive than others. The most important thing is to figure out what you prefer and what feels most comfortable for your family.

Identify your priorities.
Before you start your search, you need to decide what you want.

  • Do you want someone to come into your home?
  • Are you looking for child care near where you work or close to your home?
  • Do you want your child to be around a lot of other kids or have the full attention of one adult?
  • Do you prefer to leave your child in the care of a professional child care provider, or a trusted relative or friend?
  • Do you need a full-time or part-time child care arrangement?

Research your options.
Dig around to find what options might be a good fit for your family.

  • Ask friends and family who they have placed their children with.
  • Get a list of referrals from a caregiver or child care center you're interested in. Ask the references whether the caregiver was reliable and about their overall experiences with the individual or center.
  • Call the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network at 1-800-543-7793.

Arrange a visit and interview the provider.
Whether you're hiring a nanny or placing your child in a child care center, you need to arrange a visit and meet the child care provider in person.

  • Ask about hours, fees, vacation schedules, and sick days.
  • Ask about important issues such as discipline, toilet training, feeding, and sleeping.
  • Get a schedule of the day's activities and the center or caregiver's policies.
  • Look for a provider who is experienced in caring for young children.

Trust your instincts
Search for a caregiver that you and your child like.

  • Watch how the caregiver interacts with your child.
  • Monitor how your child reacts to seeing and leaving the caregiver.
  • Walk away from any situation in which you feel uncomfortable.

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