How Do I Find What I Need?
 
Identify Your Priorities
First decide what you want. Are you looking for a child care provider near work?   Or would one closer to your home be more convenient?  Do you want your child around lots of other kids as he/she would be in a Center, or just a few (more likely in a Child Care Family Home)?  Make a list of all your preferences so you can refer to the list as you review potential sites.
Do Your Research
 
Ask around to find the most reputable child care. Your friends and family can be a great source for referrals.
Ask the Experts
 
Contact your local Resource and Referral agency for referrals to licensed Centers and/or Family Child Care Homes in your area.
It's as Easy as 1, 2, 3
 
One: Visit and Interview
You can ask a few preliminary questions over the phone (fees charged and ages of children accepted), but you won't really get a sense of what a Child Care Center or Family Child Care Home is like until you go there and meet the staff and director.  Look, listen and ask. Pay attention to how the child care provider responds to your questions.
Two: Check References
Positive word-of-mouth is a powerful endorsement.  Ask each child care facility for a list of past and present references - and call them.  While you may run into a bit of a bias (child care providers aren't likely to refer you to people who weren't happy with them), nothing is more convincing than hearing how other parents rate their child care.  Call your local California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) office to ask to review the licensed provider's file.

When you call references, ask specific questions (don't ask if they like the Center; ask what exactly they like about it and what they don't). If their child is no longer there, ask why.  You may also want to call the State's Better Business Bureau and CDSS' CCLD office to see if any complaints have been filed against the child care facility.
Three: Kid-Test It
Come back and visit for a while with your child.  You'll want to see how he/she and the child care provider interact and if your child seems comfortable in the environment.
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