Father and Daughter

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.

Steps to Finding Quality Child Care

1. Understand Your Options

• Learn about the various child care options

Request child care referrals that meet your family’s needs

• Explore child care costs and how to get assistance

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

3. Take a Closer Look

• Consider whether the programs meet your family’s needs

• View providers’ history on the Community Care Licensing Website (Oliver’s Law)
4. Choose a Program

• Stay involved and communicate often with the child care program

• Visit and participate when you can

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

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.

Happy family: mother, father, children son and daughter on sunset

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.