The State of California regulates child care in an effort to protect the health and safety of participating children’s personal rights. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) , is responsible for licensing child care centers and family child care homes. The state does not regulate certain types of child care, such as in-home care or persons who care for the children from just one family.
Licensing regulates the number of children to be cared for as well as the number of adult caregivers. Licensing sets staff and caregiver qualifications that are based on education and experience. The caregiver or center must meet specific health, nutrition, maintenance, and safety requirements.
Potential applicants for a license must attend an orientation meeting where they receive an application packet and learn about the process. Potential providers must:
- Complete an application.
- Design a written disaster plan.
- Provide fingerprints and complete a child abuse index check.
Family care providers must complete a 15-hour training course that includes pediatric CPR and first-aid, safety, and health education. Providers are also encouraged to take a variety of classes, such as nutrition and child development.
For child care center programs, at least one person who has finished a 15-hour training course in pediatric CPR and first-aid, safety, and health education must be on site at all times. Center staff must meet certain educational standards; those who care for infants and toddlers must also complete a three-unit course in child development for this age group.
After the provider completes the proper paperwork and training, a licensing analyst makes a general inspection of the care site. The analyst looks at the overall cleanliness and basic childproofing at the facility and insures licensing requirements are met. For family child care homes, such things as swimming pools, fire safety, pets, and any outside major equipment are evaluated during the licensing visit. All electrical outlets accessible to children should have plug protectors. Toxic chemicals and firearms must be locked away or be completely and consistently out of children’s reach. Child gates must be installed for areas that are dangerous, such as stairs. While licensing sets standards for the health and safety of the child care setting, parents should always check out conditions at the child care site for themselves.There are 13 child care licensing offices throughout the state. You can receive your Community Care Licensing office’s number by dialing 916-229-4500. These offices also handle most licensing applications. Licensing staff monitor child care facilities through unannounced visits, investigate complaints, revoke licenses if necessary, and work to promote quality child care. Feel free to contact licensing to find out if there are any complaints against a provider and the nature of the complaint. Talk to your provider about any complaints so that you understand her side of the story. Ask to see the licensing reports. In the long run, your instincts, along with your fact gathering, will help you find quality child care.