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Choosing Child Care

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High quality child care offers a safe place for your child, has a positive effect on your child’s early
development, and sets the foundation for positive relationships and a lifetime of learning. There are no set rules for choosing child care. It is a personal decision based on a family’s unique needs. What is right for one may not be the best choice for another. A successful early care experience is one in which there is a partnership between the caregiver and the parent. When searching for child care you should:

  • • Visit several child care programs.
  • • Spend time to observe the program with children present.
  • • Ask questions about the program and the caregivers.
  • • Ask for references from former clients.
  • • Trust your own judgment.
  • • Call Community Care licensing at 888-LET-USNO (888-538-8766) Ask to review complaint history and license status for center or family child care provider before placing your child in care.



When you call
When you visit
• Do you have a license?
• Do you have any openings?
• How many children attend this center/home?
• What is the adult: child ratio?
• What qualifications, experience, and training does staff have? First Aid? CPR? Special Needs?
• How long has the staff worked for the program?
• What is the child development philosophy of your program?
• Do you have a contract or parent handbook that describes rules, fees, policies, illness and vacations?
• What are the rules about visiting the program?
• What forms of discipline do you use?
• What would a typical day be like for my child? (routines)
• What kind of meals and snacks are served?Do you participate in a food program?
• How do you encourage parents and families to get involved in the program?
• How do you keep parents up-to-date and involved in their child’s development and the program activities?
• How much TV/computer/video time is included in the daily schedule?
• Can you give me the names of two or three parents to call for references?
• Caregivers who are at ease with children and
parents. They are warm, loving, and properly trained.
• Happy, respected, well cared for children.
• A clean, safe, and comfortable atmosphere.
• A child-centered environment that allows children
to make choices, to explore and learn through play.
• Space for outdoor play and exercise.
• Space for quiet play and naps.
• Toilet area accessible and easy for children to use.
• A variety of toys, equipment and books in good
condition, and appropriate to the ages of children in
• Appropriate methods of discipline are used.
Physical or verbal punishment of any kind is
against the law.

• Medicines, cleaning products and other dangerous
objects are out of reach.
• Appropriate group size and adult: child ratios.
• Staff includes all children and encourages positive
• The program understands and respects diversity.
• Children are visually supervised at all times.
• Staff encourages and practices good hygiene.
• Posted emergency evacuation plans.
contact information

The keys to Quality Child Care

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  • • Educated caregivers/teachers
  • • Positive, nurturing relationships
  • • Developmentally appropriate curriculum
  • • Healthy and safe environment
  • • Parent involvement and partnership

Child Care Options

Family Child Care

A licensed family child care home provides care and education in a family-like setting. Providers must have 15 hours of health and safety training and pass a background clearance. Providers are licensed for 8 or 14 children and must adhere to specified staffing ratios. Please call 4Cs to inquire about adult: child ratios in a family child care home.

Child Care Centers

Child care centers are licensed to care for groups of 12 or more children in a school-like setting. Center staff is required to take college level child development courses and pass a background clearance. Centers must meet building, fire and zoning codes. Child care centers maintain the following teacher: child ratios:
1:4 Infants (birth to 2 years)
1:12 Preschool (2 to 5 years)
1:14 School Age (k-12 years)

License-Exempt Care

Providers who are exempt from state licensure include the following:
• Family, friend and neighbor caregivers
(can care for children from one other family)
• Nanny, au pair, or other individual hired
to come into your home to provide care.
• Drop in care at a health club and some
youth recreation programs and day camps.

4Cs Resource and Referral Provides:

Free child care referrals to licensed and some license-exempt centers.
• Consumer education, resources and statistics for child care in Sonoma County.
• Trustline registration for in-home or license-exempt caregivers.
Call 4Cs Resource & Referral at 707-544-3077 or
Visit and
click on “Find Child Care”.

4Cs provides referrals not recommendations