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Child Care Centers

Care About Quality was published by the California Department of Education in 2000.

No two child care facilities are exactly alike. From a large child care center to a neighbor’s home  to care in your own living room—many choices are open to parents seeking quality child care. Knowing the types of child care available and how they can best meet the needs of both you and your child are the first steps in making the right choice.

 Child care centers are required to be licensed in California. Infants, toddlers, preschool, or school-age children may all receive care at a child care center. Centers are usually located in schools, religious facilities, public buildings, or private buildings. A center may be a part of a large child care corporation or it may be locally owned. Some centers focus on a specific teaching method, such as High Scope, Montessori, or Waldorf. Center programs tend to be organized around the care and education of a larger group of children. 

Separate licenses are required to care for infants, preschoolers, and school-age children, although a center may be licensed to care for all three age groups at one site. Depending on their age, children receive care in separate areas at the center for safety and activity reasons.


The staffing ratios for child care programs are established by the State of California to provide minimum standards for adult supervision at a child care center. Ratios of caregivers to children vary depending on the age of the child and the number of trained staff members present. When looking at a child care center ask:

Parent Tip

Staffing ratios, or the number of staff per child, are a very important factor to consider when choosing quality child care. A ratio establishes a minimum standard a provider must follow to receive and retain a child care license. There are also many types of child care licenses, and the ratios are different depending upon the age of the children and the number of adults. Make sure you feel comfortable with the number of children being cared for by the provider. For more information about ratios, contact the Community Care Licensing Office at 916-229-4500 for help.

Staff qualifications

Qualified teachers for centers that care for infants or preschoolers must have completed at least twelve units of early childhood education, including three units of Infant/Toddler coursework. For teachers in centers with a license for school-age children, the units may be in multiple education subjects or recreation-related fields appropriate for the care of older children. Additionally, employees of centers may be a part of several professional organizations and/or may attend continuing  professional education courses.

Points to consider in choosing a child care center

Family Child Care Homes

Care About Quality Table of Contents

Questions:   Early Education and Support Division | 916-322-6233
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