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Management Bulletin 09-08

Early Learning and Care Division

Subject: Child Development Referrals to Tribal License Exempt Family Home and Center providers

Number: 09-08

Date: May 2009

Expires: Until Rescinded

Authority: California Education Code Section 8212 (b)(1)

Attention: Resource and Referral Agencies, Alternative Payment Agencies, Executive Directors and Program Directors of all Child Care and Development Programs


The purpose of this management bulletin is to clarify the process Resource and Referral agencies (R&R) and Alternative Payment agencies may use to make referrals to Tribal License Exempt Family Homes and Tribal Centers located on sovereign Tribal land.


For over two years, staff from the California Department of Education, Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD), have been meeting quarterly with staff from the Administration of Children and Families, Region IX, and representatives from the California Child Development Fund (CCDF) Tribal grantees to mutually identify ways in which child development services to families and children may be expanded and enhanced. During these meetings, a question was raised about the ability of R&R agencies to refer families to providers and centers located on Tribal lands. From this question, the ELCD has ascertained that R&R agencies may believe that the California Education Code (EC) restricts them from making referrals to providers and centers on Tribal land because these providers and centers are not required to follow Title 22 Health and Safety standards and are not required to be licensed by the Department of Social Services (DSS), Community Care Licensing. DSS, Community Care Licensing, does not have jurisdiction over the licensure of out-of-home care facilities located on Tribal land.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (CCDBG), as amended by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, and section 418 of the Social Security Act, provides direct funding to federally recognized Tribes to independently design, administer, and operate their own child care programs. Tribal child care is legally operating child care that is exempt from the regulatory system of the state (see for example the CCDBG Act of 1990, Section 658E (c)(2)).

Tribes who accept CCDF Federal funding are required to follow Health and Safety Standards for Tribally operated centers and Tribal home providers (see Section 658E (c)(2)(E)(ii)) of the CCDBG Act of 1990, as amended).


The EC does not prevent R&Rs from making referrals to family home providers and centers on Tribal land. EC, Section 8212 (b)(1), specifies in part:  “Referrals shall be made to unlicensed care facilities only if there is no requirement that the facility be licensed.”

The Federal booklet, “Tribal Child Care and Development Fund: Guide for New Administrators” (Published in conjunction with the Child Care Bureau, December 2006) states: “Parents of children participating in Tribal child care should, to the maximum extent possible, have the opportunity to choose from the full range of eligible provider options for their children’s care.” In regard to Tribal health and safety standards: “The Tribal health and safety standards must address, at a minimum, the areas of prevention and control of infectious diseases; building and physical premises safety; and health and safety training for providers.”

R&Rs are encouraged to work collaboratively at the local level with representatives from Tribal Reservations and Rancherias in their defined geographical area to identify the full range of existing child care services including those located on Tribal land. R&Rs are also encouraged to include Tribal family home providers and center providers in their resource database and, when appropriate, make referrals to Tribal family home providers and center providers when families request these referrals. A list of Tribal CCDF grantees is attached for your information at

This Management Bulletin is mandatory only to the extent that it cites a specific statutory and/or regulatory requirement. Any portion of this Management Bulletin that is not supported by a specific statutory and/or regulatory requirement is not prescriptive pursuant to California Education Code Section 33308.5.

Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Thursday, May 19, 2022
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