Choosing a quality early learning and care environment is critical to your child’s future. To help you choose the best program for your family, below are the different types of programs available and the quality characteristics they should employ to benefit your child’s development.
Types of Learning and Care Environments
Family Child Care Home
This type of early learning and care program is offered in the home of the provider, who is often a parent, the owner, and licensed by the state. A family child care professional often cares for children of different ages. The number of children a family child care provider can care for at one time varies depending on the ages of the children and the presence of an assistant or a second professional.
Child Care Center
This type of early learning and care program is often a facility that serves infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children on a part-day or full-day schedule. These centers are sometimes called “preschool programs” that are licensed by the state and include teachers with higher education in child development. Centers vary in size but are usually larger than family child care homes. Centers can be operated independently or by a church, elementary school, or other organization.
Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care
This type of early learning and care setting is typically provided by a family member, friend, neighbor, relative, babysitter, or a nanny in the child’s home on a part-day or full-day schedule. Child care can be provided for children from only one family in addition to the provider’s own family. This type of environment is not licensed.
Quality Characteristics of Early Learning and Care Environments
Look for the following characteristics in the learning and care programs you research and visit:
- Relationships between adults and children are loving and nurturing.
- Teachers, directors, and family child care providers are trained in child development.
- The environment is safe and healthy.
- Learning activities support each child’s interests, growth, and needs.
- Families have relationships with the program/staff.
Other Resources to Help Families Find a Quality Program
These guides and lists provide tips, advice, questions, and certification/license information for families to consider when choosing a quality program for their child(ren).
- Care About Quality: Your Guide to Child Care
- California Department of Social Services Child Care Licensing Program
- TrustLine or 1.800.822.8490
- QCC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Parents