The Child Development Resource Center serves families by providing comprehensive information on the many options available when making child care arrangements for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. Families can receive assistance with this process, but hold the ultimate responsibility for selecting the most appropriate child care setting for their children.
Families who contact us are given a list of at least five child care providers based on the family’s priorities. The Child Development Resource Center provides information on the different types of child care options available, and some tips on choosing a program or early childhood educator. The Child Development Resource Center gives referrals, but does not make any recommendations about these programs or providers.
Steps to Finding Quality Child Care
2. Visit and Ask Questions
• Contact providers on your referral list to set up a time to visit and talk
• Visit multiple programs
• Observe and ask questions
• Utilize the Choosing Child Care Checklist
Types of Child Care Options
Licensed Child Care Centers
This type of facility can provide care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers or school-age children all or part of the day. Although generally larger than family child care homes, the center’s capacity depends on the size of the facility. Child Care Centers have strict regulations about staff qualifications and adult/child ratios. Child care centers are sometimes called preschools or nursery schools. Licenses are issued by the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division.
Licensed Family Child Care Homes
This type of care must be offered in the home of the child care provider. The number of children the home can serve depends on the ages of the children and whether or not there are additional certified adults present. Family child care homes can serve a mixed age group. This license is also issued by the California Department of Social Services.
Transitional Kindergarten is the newest grade in elementary school. TK is being expanded in California to include all 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 academic year. Programs are free and provided by public schools.
Nanny, babysitter or other informal arrangement
Care provided by a friend, relative, neighbor, babysitter or nanny in the child or adult’s home. This care is not licensed, but in-home care providers can register with TrustLine, California’s criminal background check for license-exempt providers.
Paying for Child Care
For many working families, quality child care is essential but cost prohibitive. Help is available. The Child Development Resource Center can help determine if your family might qualify for assistance to pay for child care and direct you to agencies that offer subsidized care in Santa Cruz County. Determine your eligibility for subsidized child care.
There are options throughout the county, including low- and no-cost preschools, child care centers and licensed family child care homes that serve eligible families. A voucher program also provides assistance to families on an individual basis.