Here you will find questions submitted by users that have been answered by our experts. Click on a question below to see the response. If you would like to submit your own question you may do so here.

  • How do I see what violations a child care center has had in the past?

    In many states, state licensed child care providers are required to have licensing inspections each year. However, the number of required inspections depends on the state. The results of the licensing inspections are public information. In some states, parents can view inspection reports online. In other states parents must contact their local licensing office for that information.

    You can see if your state has online inspection reports by using our State by State Resource Map. Click on your state in the drop-down box to the right and click “Search Now.” Look under the Child Care category for the Inspection Reports resource. If your state or region posts inspection reports online, the link will take you to a tool to search for child care providers. On each provider listing, you should be able to see the program’s licensing status and inspection history. Many inspection reports allow you to see what violations and complaints, if any, a child care program has had in the past. Other reports may simply show which regulation was cited and when the issue was corrected.

    If your state does not post inspection reports online, you can contact your state child care licensing office to request a copy of a provider’s inspection and complaint history. The licensing phone number or a list of local offices will be listed on our State by State Resource Map. Look under the Child Care Licensing resource for your state. You also may contact licensing if you have questions about an inspection report online. Keep in mind that they may not be able to share information about an ongoing investigation.

    When reviewing inspection reports you should look for any violations that would concern you as a parent. For example, excessive discipline and inadequate supervision are two types of violations that may be of particular concern. If there are any other issues you see and consider concerning, it may be a sign that you should look into other child care options. It is important to have a program that you can trust. In addition, look for patterns of uncorrected or repeated violations. Many child care programs will have minor violations. However, providers should always show that they are willing to correct issues quickly for the safety of children in care. You should also keep an eye out for programs with a high number of areas that need correction. You will want to find a child care provider that shows attention to detail and organization in all areas. Child care requirements are put into place for children’s health and safety. Quality child care programs will show a commitment to following these rules to protect the children in care.

    Teresa Valdez-Bain, MSW
    Writer Associate, Family and Community Engagement
    Child Care Aware® of America

    Teresa joined Child Care Aware® of America in August of 2010 as a Parent Liaison Specialist with the Child Care Aware® program. In December 2015, she transitioned to the National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement initiative as a Writer Associate. Before joining the organization, Teresa worked to support homeless families and children in Arlington, VA. During her Master’s program, Teresa worked as a School Social Work Intern for the school system in Falls Church, VA and as a Case Manager for a local advocacy group in Alexandria, VA. Mrs. Valdez-Bain earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011.

  • How can a parent find preschool for a three year old with a speech delay that is undergoing speech therapy?

    Looking for a preschool program that meets your needs is a lot like searching for child care. You can make use of local resources to help you get a list of options. The number one resource for finding preschool options is your local Child Care Resource & Referral agency, or CCR&R. CCR&R agencies provide child care and preschool referrals based on a family’s needs. They’ll look for programs that accept your child’s age, offer the schedule you need, and are near a certain location. Find your local CCR&R by clicking “Search Now” in the CCR&R Search box on the right-hand side of this page, or call 1(800) 424-2246.

    Once you’ve got a list of preschool programs, you’ll want to narrow down your choices. A great first step is to review inspection reports. Inspection reports will tell you which, if any, violations have been cited at the program. You may also be able to see if there have been complaints or actions taken against a program. These reports are online in many states now. Select your state from the State by State Resources drop-down box at the right to see if your state has online inspections (and who to contact if they do not). Keep in mind that some preschools may be exempt from having a state child care license. License exempt preschools may not have inspection reports available if they are not inspected by the child care licensing office. Take a look at our Preschool Programs page for more information.

    You should also take a tour of each facility to observe and ask questions. There are many indicators of quality you’ll want to look for on your visit. It is also important to take time to ask questions about the program, the teachers, and your family’s needs. Our Selecting a Child Care Program page will get you started on creating your own list of questions to ask each program and things to look for on every visit. Be sure to add any other questions that are specific to your family’s needs and your unique child.

    Your child’s speech development and therapy needs should be something you discuss with each program. Many preschools allow speech therapists to come on-site to provide services to children during school hours. As you’re looking at different preschool options, you’ll want to share any important information about your child’s development with the director. Ask how they support children with speech delays and how the activities they choose will encourage development in that area. Be sure to bring up the speech therapy that your child receives, as well as the schedule of therapy during school hours. Ask if the preschool is willing to allow a speech therapist to come in to provide services on-site. Listen for the ways that they would support this important service for your child, such as providing a designated space for speech therapy to be provided and the process of admitting a speech therapist into the building to work with your child.

    After you’ve decided which preschool program is right for your family and child, stay involved! Check in with the director and your child’s teacher about your child’s progress in speech and other areas. Talk to your child’s speech therapist about their experience providing services on-site at the preschool. Ask your child what they are learning, who they enjoy playing with and how they spend their day. Your involvement will show the preschool staff, your child’s speech therapist and your child that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.

    Jessica Read
    CCA Project Manager
    Child Care Aware® of America

    Jessica Read has been with Child Care Aware® of America since August 2010, assisting families with child care consumer education and military fee assistance programs. Previously she worked as a caseworker for Family Child Care providers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program in Rochester, NY, and she also provided required licensing training for prospective Family Child Care providers. Jessica has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Secondary Education from Houghton College.

  • What does the type of after-school program I choose for my fourth grader really matter? He will only be at the program for a couple of hours a day.

    I applaud you for being concerned about how your school-ager spends his out-of-school time. The time after school is important to a child’s social-emotional, physical and intellectual development. Even though your child will only be there a few hours it’s helpful if he is in a quality program. In a quality after-school program your child should have the opportunity for a nutritious after-school snack, some time to unwind and get some physical exercise, learn recreational and other skills not taught in school, do his homework, and receive tutoring if that is needed. Children are often very hungry after school and this is a good time for your child to get some of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients he needs in an after-school snack. Since the time in school for physical activity may be limited, this is one time of the day when your child could get the 60 minutes of vigorous activity children this age need each day. In a quality program your child should have the opportunity to participate in arts and crafts, sports, computer activities, and other activities there may not be time for at home or school. In addition, a quality program will provide time and support for doing homework. Since many schools now require a significant amount of homework every day, it can be helpful to your child and the family if he can complete some of it before he comes home.

    Beverly Schmalzried, Ph. D.
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
    Beverly Schmalzried formerly directed the Air Force’s child and youth programs. She has a Ph.D. in child development from Florida State University. She has taught in university preschools and Head Start programs as well as in junior high school and college. She and her husband have a daughter and son and four grandsons.

  • I have recently taken custody of my two grandchildren. This is the first time I’ll be looking for daycare. What can you tell me about looking for care in my area?

    You have taken on an important responsibility by assuming custody of your two grandchildren. Choosing quality child care for them is a critical part of that responsibility. The options for care will depend in part on where you live, how old your grandchildren are, and the financial resources available to you. You can start by contacting your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. They help families find child care, and they can also give you tips on selecting care. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist.

    There may be several options available to you, including care in a private home (family child care), child care center, Head Start program, school-based prekindergarten program, church-related preschool, or after-school program. Your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency will provide you information about which programs are available in your area. They may also be able to share the requirements for enrolling and the estimated cost of each. They should be able to tell you if there is financial aid available to help you pay for the costs of child care and about federal programs such as the Child Care Tax Credit. Choosing a licensed program can provide you with some assurance that the program meets at least some minimum standards.

    Beverly Schmalzried, Ph. D.
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
    Beverly Schmalzried formerly directed the Air Force’s child and youth programs. She has a Ph.D. in child development from Florida State University. She has taught in university preschools and Head Start programs as well as in junior high school and college. She and her husband have a daughter and son and four grandsons.

  • I recently visited a child care program in someone’s home. I was impressed that they offered a curriculum. Why would an in-home daycare do that? I thought just preschools did that.

    I’m glad you have had the opportunity to visit an in-home child care program. Family child care is the term often used for this type of care. Family child care is one of the most popular types of child care used by families with young children. Research on brain development has revealed that the years between birth and formal schooling are important in learning. Well-trained family child care providers are aware of how important the preschool years are in a child’s development and offer a curriculum designed to take advantage of this opportunity.

    In a high-quality family child care program, children’s health and safety needs are met. In addition, they have the opportunity to participate in activities that help them grow and develop and that prepare them for school. Some providers offer curriculum activities based on the state’s preschool curriculum standards. Children have the opportunity to participate in art, music, dramatic play, blocks and construction, and table toy activities. In addition, they are read to several times during the day and the provider takes the children on field trips and other outings to help them learn science and math concepts. I hope you enjoyed your visit to the family child care home, and I’m pleased that you were able to visit a provider offering these experiences to young children.

    Beverly Schmalzried, Ph. D.
    Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Beverly Schmalzried formerly directed the Air Force’s child and youth programs. She has a Ph.D. in child development from Florida State University. She has taught in university preschools and Head Start programs as well as in junior high school and college. She and her husband have a daughter and son and four grandsons.

  • Is it OK that our daycare provider cares for 16 children? It seems like a lot to me, but she manages OK.

    A child care provider could care for 16 children if she has an assistant and if the children are preschool-age (three to four years old) or school-age (five to 12 years old).

    Depending on the ages of the children, your child care provider may be able to manage the behavior of 16 children. She would find it hard to provide suitable learning experiences or to respond to unpredictable situations.

    There is research that shows that children do better when an adult is responsible for fewer children. Your child can be provided with more one-on-one attention. Your child care provider can get to know your child individually. and she can plan activities based on your child’s learning needs and interests. These things are crucial to his social and emotional development. When there are infants and toddlers or children with disabilities in the group, it is especially important that there are fewer children for each caregiver.

    Rosemary Kendall, Ph.D.
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Senior Associate Director of Special Projects & Publications
    Rosemary Kendall has over 35 years of experience in the field of early care and education. She worked for eight years as a content specialist with the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC)/ She has additional experience as a family child care specialist with Early Head Start, a parent educator and parent involvement team member with the Fairfax County Public Schools, an early childhood educator, a researcher, and a nursery school director.

  • My daughter just turned two, and her clinginess to me has increased. It has gotten to the point where she won’t let me get any of my daily activities done, like cooking, cleaning, etc. She wants to do everything with me or else she becomes very irritable.

    Clinginess and negativity among toddlers are common themes. Clinginess is part of separation anxiety, which is completely normal for children ages one to three. Children’s desire to stay close to their parents once they learn to walk is a way of feeling safe. Even at these ages children want to be independent, but this is a very gradual process and can be scary for the child. The child uses the parent as a safe base to help ease that scariness. Just keep in mind that this is a step in the right direction for your child becoming independent. Try including her in your daily chores by giving her a cleaning tool to use while you clean! Responding negatively to your suggestions is also your toddler’s way of saying “I am my own person!” She is demonstrating to you that she is a separate person from you. It, too, is a step toward her independence. Remain positive!

    Beverly Schmalzried, Ph. D.
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
    Beverly Schmalzried formerly directed the Air Force’s child and youth programs. She has a Ph.D. in child development from Florida State University. She has taught in university preschools and Head Start programs as well as in junior high school and college. She and her husband have a daughter and son and four grandsons.

  • I have watched children for 30 years, some of which have had special needs. I am currently nannying for a three year old and a 10 month old. The three year old is showing some signs of a developmental delay. How should I go about getting to somebody?

    Many states have hotlines for referral of children suspected to have a developmental disability. You may want to contact the local school system to ask how to put the family in touch with the Child Find referral system for children suspected to have a developmental delay. A referral to the designated entity will usually result in an evaluation of the child by taking a screening history, often over the phone. Then, if indicated by that screening, a more extensive evaluation will be arranged.

    Chapter eight of the 3rd edition of Caring for Our Children, Guiding Principles gives good background information on this topic beginning on pages 333 & 334 (go to www.nrckids.org for the electronic version). Here is the beginning of the relevant information that describes the law providing for early identification and intervention for infants, toddlers and, like this child, preschool-age children:

    Serving Children with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities Including Children Eligible Under IDEA

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law most recently amended in 2004 (1), affords care­givers/teachers a unique opportunity to support children with disabilities that might affect their educational success and to improve services for both the children and families in the child care setting. The purpose of the law is to provide “free appropriate public education” for all “eligible” children, from birth to twenty-one years, in a natural or least restric­tive environment. Eligible children under IDEA include those with developmental delays or those with physical or mental conditions that may result in a developmental delay. Part B, Section 619 of this statute supports the needs of eligible preschool-age children through the local school district. Part C provides for a comprehensive system to serve the needs of eligible infants and toddlers between the ages of birth and three years and their families. Child care programs can play a significant role in supporting the developmental needs of children with special health care needs and dis­abilities in the child care setting.

    Historical Information

    The original statute of IDEA, then titled The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (2), was passed in 1975 and initially covered only children aged five through twenty-one years. This law was amended in 1986 (3) to include pre­school education services to children aged three through five and early intervention services for children from birth to age two. The preschool services are included in Part B of the act. The infant and toddler portion of the act, which was Part H when initially passed, is now Part C under the 1997 reauthorized version of the act. The law is now identified as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Information about IDEA can be obtained from the Office of Special Edu­cation and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), U.S. Depart­ment of Education.”

    Susan S. Aronson, MD, FAAP
    Dr. Aronson is a pediatrician who has served as a health care provider, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about early education and child care matters. She is the founder and a Pediatric Advisor for the Pennsylvania AAP’s 22-year-old program, ECELS-Healthy Child Care Pennsylvania. She began her involvement in early education and child care as a health consultant for Head Start and shortly thereafter founded and for 10 years was the Executive Director of a socio-economically diverse child care center for infants, toddlers, preschool-age and school-age children, including some with special needs.

  • My two and a half year old clings to me lately when I drop her off at her day care. She seems to like Ms. Alice, but I feel horrible leaving her when she’s upset. What can I do to make drop off easier?

    Transitions can be difficult for young children – actually, they can be difficult for all of us! Even if a child likes the next place she is going, the process can be stressful not only for her, but for everyone involved. Preparing your child for the transition ahead of time and developing a familiar routine is something that might make drop-off go more smoothly. For example, talking through the steps that happen when you get to the center as you drive there can help her get ready for what will happen next. You might say something like, “When we get to your room, we’re going to hang up your coat, put your cup on the shelf, and then you can pick two special mommy goodbyes. You can pick hugs, or kisses, or tickles, or high fives – anything you want!” Keeping the routine the same every day, but allowing some fun choices within, can help make that time predictable and provide the child some control in the situation as well. Also, you can leave something of yours behind to help her feel more secure – maybe a picture of you, or a special item she can hold on to or keep in her cubby to provide some comfort. Maybe she could pick the item from a basket before she leaves the house. If the classroom has a daily visual schedule, perhaps you can provide the teacher with a small picture of you to put at the end of the day, to help your child understand when she will see you again.

    Submitted by our partners at the Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.
    Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She teaches courses, advises students, and conducts research on early childhood issues. Her research focuses on effective instruction, social-emotional development and challenging behavior, and translating research to practice. Currently, she is the principal investigator on the Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and two IES-funded research projects.

  • What does it mean if my daycare is licensed?

    Child care programs are licensed the same way restaurants, beauty salons, taxi cab companies and other small businesses are licensed. A state agency inspects the program to make sure the program meets minimum health and safety standards and issues a license. Licensed programs are inspected regularly to make sure they are complying with regulations. States issue licenses for two types of child care programs: child care centers and family child care homes. You should expect the license to be posted where you can see it.

    Licensing regulations cover issues like the number of children that can be in a group, the number of child care providers required for each group, staff training requirements, sanitation, administration of medicines, food preparation and serving, safety hazards, learning activities, background checks and communication with parents.

    Some states require any program that is paid to care for even one child to be licensed. Other states exempt some types of child care from licensing requirements. You can find out which programs are licensed in your state by checking with your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist.

    Rosemary Kendall, Ph.D.
    Senior Associate Director of Special Projects & Publications
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Rosemary Kendall has over 35 years of experience in the field of early care and education. She worked for eight years as a content specialist with the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC). She has additional experience as a family child care specialist with Early Head Start, a parent educator and parent involvement team member with the Fairfax County Public Schools, an early childhood educator, a researcher, and a nursery school director.

  • I found out that we are expecting in September. Is it too early to start looking for daycare?

    No, it’s not too early to start looking for child care. Finding the right child care option for your family can take time, and it is often difficult to find child care for babies.

    First, you need to consider what kind of child care you want for your baby. You local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency has staff that can help you think about what options are available to you and what will work for your family. In addition, you can go on the Internet to explore your options. Child Care Aware’s Accessing Support for All Parents tool will help you look at factors involved in making decisions about child care. The Budgeting Child Care Options Calculator allows you to examine your financial situation both with and without the cost of child care.

    Next visit different kinds of programs to see what kind of child care makes you most comfortable. Child Care Aware’s Give Your Child Something That Will Last a Lifetime describes five steps you should take to find quality child care.

    Once you have selected a couple of programs that you like, ask how early you can get on the waiting list. Some programs will hold a spot for you immediately, and others will require you to wait until after the baby is born. Get on several waiting lists in case your first choice falls through.

    After your baby is born, you will be able to make a final decision about child care. Your baby’s personality will help you decide about which is the right type of care for your family. Child Care Aware’s Matching Your Infant’s or Toddler’s Style to the Right Child Care Setting has guidelines about how to use what you know about your infant or toddler to select the right child care setting.

    Rosemary Kendall, Ph.D.
    Senior Associate Director of Special Projects & Publications
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Rosemary Kendall has over 35 years of experience in the field of early care and education. She worked for eight years as a content specialist with the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC). She has additional experience as a family child care specialist with Early Head Start, a parent educator and parent involvement team member with the Fairfax County Public Schools, an early childhood educator, a researcher, and a nursery school director.

  • How many children can you keep in your home after school without a license?

    Requirements for operating a family child care program vary from state to state. If you want to know what your state requirements are specifically, you may contact your state licensing agency. The experts at this agency will be able to provide you with the minimum acceptable health, safety and program guidelines.

    These guidelines will include the number of children you can keep in your home after school without a license. Items to keep in mind when researching your state’s regulations include the type of program you will be operating. Will your child care be for school-age children only, or will you have mixed age groups? In addition, you will need to be aware of whether or not these regulations include your own children in the group size. If you still have questions after researching your state’s regulations, you may contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral agency. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist.

    Niki Smidt, M.S.
    Child Care Aware® Liaison Manager
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Niki Smidt has over seven years of experience with Child Care Aware®. As the Child Care® Aware Liaison Manager, she is a part of researching and creating new resources, tools, and website features that assist families in their child care search and providers in beginning a career in the child care field. Ms. Smidt received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from South Dakota State University. Prior to entering the filed of child care, she worked as a case manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

  • Is it legal for our daycare facility to fire employees and not notify the parents of who the caretaker of our children currently is?

    Staff turnover and especially termination of an employee is a difficult situation that all child care programs are challenged with. We understand the importance of trust in the child care field, as it is critical to relationships between children, caregivers and their families. We know that continuity of care is the goal when caring for young children.

    When a provider has been terminated or is leaving a program, it is important for your facility to be honest with families. However, they also need to maintain confidentiality of the former employee. Your provider may give you basic information such as when the staff person’s last day will be or was. You may ask your provider how they plan to tell the children that their caregiver will not be coming back to the program and who will be working with them. You may also ask how the staff will be taking extra care in their interactions with the children to ease this transition until a new caregiver is in place and knows the children.

    Even with the best communication regarding a provider leaving your program, some families will want to ask program leaders and/or other caregivers why the staff person left or is leaving. Keep in mind, your child care program will also be interested in maintaining the former employee’s confidentiality.

    We know that reciprocal relationships with children, families, and providers are paramount to the child care field. The more that child care providers are transparent about difficult situations such as staff turnover, the stronger your relationships will be and the stronger your child’s experience will be. To learn more about the specific laws and regulations in your area contact your State-By-State Resources For Families.

    Rose Segreti
    Chief of Quality Initiatives
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Rose Segreti has over 21 years of experience in the field of child care. She worked in a variety of settings including a large, multi-site child care center. She has facilitated quality improvements such as NAEYC accreditation of infant through five year old child care programs. She also worked at an educational publishing company, where she designed and provided training and technical assistance. She holds Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Wheelock College.

  • Is it OK for a daycare center to tell me that they would not recommend submitting the VPK voucher because they think that my child would not meet the VPK standards?

    If I were asked by your center, I would encourage them to help you submit your VPK voucher and find out the results directly. If they are not responsive, call the Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency in your area. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist.

    Beverly Schmalzried, Ph. D.
    Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Beverly Schmalzried formerly directed the Air Force’s child and youth programs. She has a Ph.D. in child development from Florida State University. She has taught in university preschools and Head Start programs as well as in junior high school and college. She and her husband have a daughter and son and four grandsons.

  • I need financial assistance for child care. How do I get the assistance?

    Getting help to pay for child care is not always easy. Knowing where to get started is very important. Financial assistance for child care is available in most states for those who qualify. To learn about the availability and eligibility requirements for financial assistance in any particular state, it is best to contact the local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. The local agency should be able to inform you of the eligibility requirements as well as provide information about how to apply for state-funded child care fee assistance programs. It is helpful to be familiar with the different ways in which financial assistance can be administered. Many states have programs where a portion of the child care cost is paid to the provider by the state. This is often referred to as a subsidy or voucher program. Some child care providers also offer child care rates that are on a sliding scale. The term sliding scale refers to having child care offered at a rate that corresponds to your income.

    Depending on the ages of the children that are in need of financial assistance, Head Start child care programs may also be a viable option. Head Start is a child care/preschool program that is partially or fully funded by the federal government. In other words, Head Start programs are offered at a reduced rate or at no cost to families. As with all child care fee assistance programs, Head Start has eligibility requirements. To learn of the various financial assistance programs that may be available in a particular area, contact your local CCR&R.

    Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist.

    Mujaahida Latif
    Associate Director of Parent Services
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Mujaahida Latif joined Child Care Aware® of America in July 2008 as a Consumer Education Specialist for Child Care Aware® before transitioning to Associate Director of Parent Services. Prior to CCA, Ms. Latif had three years of experience working with Kindergarten students as a Teacher’s Assistant. She later transitioned to Lead Teacher for DC public schools’ After School for All Program. She also has one year of experience working with homeless families and children as a Case Worker for Perry School Social Services. Ms. Latif has a Bachelor’s Degree in Developmental Psychology. She is currently working toward a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Trinity University.

  • What services are available to a recently single mother? The husband/father recently left.

    Single mothers often face the challenge of managing household expenses for themselves and their children on their own. Fortunately, many states have financial assistance options in place designed to help those families facing financial difficulties, and some areas may offer programs specifically for single parents.

    The Department of Human/Social Services in your city or county can typically provide information about financial assistance programs in place such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps or SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, a temporary cash assistance program), and Medicaid. There also may be programs available to help low-income families pay for child care, housing, energy needs (help with utility bills, energy-saving home repairs, etc.) and other day-to-day needs you may have. Contact your local Department of Human or Social Services for information about existing programs, eligibility requirements, and how to apply. You may visit our State by State Resource Map to find contact information for your local DHS/DSS office as well as specific contacts for the programs mentioned above.

    You local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency can provide families with child care referrals in your area, and in certain states, they may manage the child care subsidy program offered in your state. If you contact your CCR&R for help paying for child care, be sure to ask about various options such as child care subsidy, child care providers that offer sliding fee scales, Early Head Start or Head Start, and any other financial programs your family may be eligible for. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist.

    Depending on where you live, there may be programs (financial assistance, support groups, etc.) in place specifically for single parents. These programs may be provided by your state or a non-profit organization, or there may be assistance offered through local churches or religious organizations. To find out what resources are available to you, dial 2-1-1, or the information and referral service, in your state (www.211.org/).

    Jessica Read
    CCA Project Manager
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Jessica Read has been with Child Care Aware® of America since August 2010, assisting families with child care consumer education and military fee assistance programs. Previously she worked as a caseworker for Family Child Care providers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program in Rochester, NY, and she also provided required licensing training for prospective Family Child Care providers. Jessica has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Secondary Education from Houghton College.

  • What child care options exist for children over the age of 12, with and without special needs? I have noticed that daycares only go up to age 12.

    Many child care providers do not accept children over 12 years of age, but there are many other great options for children who are over 12 years old and require after-school and/or summer care programs.

    Once a child turns 13 many schools offer various after-school programs that can be participated in under the supervision of a coach, counselor, or teacher. The programs that may be offered in your school district may include sports, drama, band, and clubs (Chess, Math, Debate, etc.). These activities not only keep the child under supervision for a couple hours before you get home from work but also allow your child to interact with peers and gain new knowledge and skills.

    There are also some organizations outside of school that offer after-school programs. Organizations in your area may include the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, and other community recreational facilities (contact the local Department of Parks and Recreation for facilities in your area). The Boys and Girls Club has nearly 4,000 clubs throughout the United States that provide after-school programs for children ages six through 18. They offer a variety of programs including everything from leadership and educational programs to sports and art programs.

    Summer time can be tricky when you need full-time care, but there are still a lot of great options. Many of the same organizations that offer after-school care (Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, and other community recreation facilities) also offer summer camp programs. The local school districts also often have summer programs for children with specific interests such as cheer, drama, science, and football.

    If your family is looking for child care for teenage children with special needs, you can start by contacting your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist. The local agency may be able to provide your family with a list of licensed child care providers that work with children with special needs of all ages. Another good resource is your local Easter Seals office. Easter Seals has a Child Development Center Network that consists of nearly 80 inclusive child care providers around the United States.

    Victoria Viellieu, M.Ed.
    Interim Senior Director of Child Care Services
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Victoria began working for Child Care Aware® of America in July of 2009. She started out working in the Military Subsidy Department before transitioning to a Consumer Educational Specialist role with Child Care Aware®. In 2013, she became the CCA Parent Services Manager, and in 2016 she began serving as the Interim Senior Director of Child Care Services. Victoria volunteers as a coach for Special Olympics Gymnastics and has previous experience working as a counselor for a therapeutic recreational camp for elementary school aged children with developmental delays. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a focus on Early Childhood Development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and her Masters of Education in Applied Behavioral Analysis from Arizona State University.

  • I just found out today that my work schedule will be changing next week so that I have to work more days and long hours. Is there a limit to the time my child can spend in daycare?

    There may be legal limits. Child care licensing regulations may limit the number of hours that a child can spend in child care. To find out if your state’s licensing regulations has limits, contact your state licensing agency.

    If you are receiving assistance with child care fees, the sponsoring agency may have limits on the number of hours it will pay for your child to be in child care. To find out if your state’s child care subsidy/fee assistance regulations limit the number of hours your child can be in child care, contact the agency that administers your state’s child care assistance program. However, the amount of time your child should spend in child care really depends on what your child can tolerate. Four days at 10 hours will feel different than three days at 12 hours, especially when you add in time for transportation. For some children, a long day with a group of children and adults is exhausting. For other children, being with a group can be stimulating.

    Positive relationships are one key to your child’s adjusting to a long day. A younger child is likely to be more affected by the number of hours in care. Infants and toddlers need a relationship with one special caregiver during most of their hours in child care. If your child’s day is longer than his or her caregiver’s day, your child will have to adjust to several care-giving styles every day. This can cause stress for your child.

    Your child’s behavior will tell you if the longer day is causing stress. Your child may do fine, or your child may react by withdrawing or crying or sleeping more. Your child may also react by biting or hitting or being aggressive. It is important for you to feel good about your child care provider and be able to communicate with her or him. Together, you can figure out what your child needs and how to make the long day less stressful for all of you.

    Finally, remember that even though it has been a long day for you, when you and your child get home, your child may want your attention for the first half hour. Relax and enjoy your child.

    Rosemary Kendall, Ph.D.
    Senior Associate Director of Special Projects & Publications
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Rosemary Kendall has over 35 years of experience in the field of early care and education. She worked for eight years as a content specialist with the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC). She has additional experience as a family child care specialist with Early Head Start, a parent educator and parent involvement team member with the Fairfax County Public Schools, an early childhood educator, a researcher, and a nursery school director.

  • I just got notice for an out-of-state in-person interview for a job coming up in five days. Are there daily daycare services for four-year-olds? I can drop my child off early and have his dad pick him up in the evening for one or two days of this interview.

    The type of child care service you are looking for is referred to as drop-in or hourly child care. Child care providers who offer this service usually require some advanced notice, so try to start your search as soon as possible. You can get started by contacting your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. Search here to find your local CCR&R or call 1(800) 424-2246 to speak with a live specialist. Your local agency will be able to provide you with a list of state licensed child care providers, and you may if they have a list of providers that offer drop-in care.

    One way to get information on these providers if you are not able to go visit them all would be to check their inspection history. Some states offer this information online, and for those that do not you can contact the licensing agency for more information. You can locate your state’s licensing and/or the inspection website on our State by State Resource Map.

    After you select your provider, you should then focus on preparing the information they will need or request. For example, you will want to prepare a list of information about any medical needs your child may have (i.e., allergies, hearing/ speech issues, etc.). You should check with the provider’s pick-up policies. Some child care providers will only allow the child to leave with the person who dropped the child off in the morning unless other arrangements are made in advance.

    Keep in mind that a lot of what goes into finding an hourly provider is the same as finding a full-time provider. Taking these steps can help ensure your child is safe and allow you to focus on your interview.

    Jonecia Wade
    Interim Parent Services Manager
    Child Care Aware® of America
    Jonecia rejoined Child Care Aware® of America in August 2015 after working with the organization previously from September 2009 to September 2014. She has since served as the Military Parent Services Manager, and in 2016 she began serving as the Interim Parent Services Manager. She played a vital role in conducting research to gather information on resources to assist families with child care, social services, and other needs in all 50 states. She works with parents and families daily to help them find resources for child care. Mrs. Wade has a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.