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In-Home Care

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

There are several options if you prefer to have your child cared for in your home. The most common choice is care for your child by another family member in your home. In-home care is legally called license-exempt, which means that a child care license is not needed to care for your child.  In-home care is convenient as everything you need for your child is right under your own roof. In-home providers either come to your home for certain hours or live in your home. They care for your child and may help with daily home chores such as laundry and meals. Be clear about what is expected.  Talk to your provider about what your child did during the day and watch your child’s behavior.  Here are types of in-home choices.

Relative care

This is care provided by any relative in their home or your home. Any number of children may be cared for as long as they are all related. A license is not required. Make sure you talk to your relative openly and honestly. Talk about money. Is there any to be exchanged? What about feelings and past history with each other? Most important, talk about your child and what he needs to be well cared for. Thank your relative, as you would any provider, often and let her know you appreciate the care.

Parent Tip

When a family member or friend watches your child or children, make sure you talk about how the child care arrangement will work before actually committing to it. Talk about money, hours, what your child needs, discipline, and how you will handle any disagreements. Be sensitive to the family relationship and make sure you do not take advantage of it.


Nannies may be found through local agencies, which may screen and interview candidates and usually link you with a provider. Nanny agencies are required to use the TrustLine background check when placing a provider. Nannies may also be found through a faith-based organization, a friend, or an ad in the paper. Annual salaries for a full-time nanny hired through an agency can range from $18,000 to $28,000 or more. Parents may also pay an agency fee for placement. Before hiring a nanny, you should talk with an accountant or bookkeeper familiar with household employee laws. The IRS can provide you with the forms needed to employ an in-home provider.  On top of federal taxes, you are also responsible for state taxes. 

Au pair

An au pair is usually a foreign student who exchanges child care services for living arrangements and a small salary. The arrangement usually covers a maximum of one year. Au pairs are able to perform child care and light housekeeping duties related to child care for approximately 45 hours a week. The nation’s au pair organizations are licensed by the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Au pair pay is mandated by this agency, and fees may be as much as $195 a week. Other costs for an au pair include full room and board, an educational payment of $500, additional insurance if your au pair uses the family car, and other minimal costs.

Hiring tip

While nanny and au pair agencies may screen candidates, there are no licensing standards that candidates must meet.

Points to consider in choosing in-home care

  • Background: What is the provider’s background? What is her experience caring for children?  Did you contact TrustLine External link opens in new window or tab. at 1-800-822-8490?
  • Screening: What type of background screening was done on the individual? Did you check references? Were fingerprints checked? Was the individual registered with TrustLine?  Is the provider CPR and first aid certified?
  • Responsibilities: Do you have a written job description to give to the candidate? Do you understand the financial and legal responsibilities of in-home care?  What is your back-up plan in case the provider is sick or on vacation? What other options do you have if the in-home situation does not work?


Trustline offers parents the chance to evaluate a child care provider. It is a registry of in-home child care providers who have cleared a background screening through a fingerprint check of records at the California Department of Justice. This means they have no disqualifying criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse reports in California. To contact Trustline, call 1-800-822-8490 or visit the Trustline Internet Web site [] External link opens in new window or tab. .

Child Care for Your Child With Special Needs

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Questions:   Early Education and Support Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 19, 2015

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