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Child Care Glossary

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The total number of children that may be in care at one time in a child care program.


Someone who provides care and protection for children in or outside the home. Caregivers may include parents, relatives, child care workers, and early childhood teachers. Other examples may include social workers, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentors.


A valued credential awarded in several fields that proves competency upon satisfactory demonstration of particular knowledge and skills.

Charter School

A public school formed and operated by teachers, parents, and other community members in order to promote innovative approaches to education.

Child Abuse

Harm or maltreatment toward a child’s physical, moral, or mental well-being.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

This credit is available to people who, in order to work or to look for work, have to pay for child care services for dependents under age 13. The credit is also available if you paid for care of a spouse or a dependent of any age who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. For more information, click here

Child Care

Providing care and/or supervision for children and their daily needs, in a home or center setting.

Child Care Assistance

Federal, state and county funds that subsidize child care costs for eligible families. Also referred to as Child Care Subsidy.

Child Care Center

A facility that provides regularly scheduled care for a group of children one month of age through 12 years of age for periods of less than 24 hours.

Child Care Development Fund (CCDF)

A program, authorized by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, PL 104-193, to assist low-income families, families receiving temporary public assistance, and those transitioning from public assistance in obtaining child care so they can work or attend training/education.

Child Care Home

A child care service offered in the provider’s home. Although regulations differ, most states require that child care providers be regulated if they care for more than four children.

Child Care Provider

Those individuals who provide child care services.

Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R)

Organizations that help parents take the guesswork out of choosing care - giving them referrals to local child care providers, information on state licensing requirements, availability of child care subsidies, and other pertinent information. CCR&Rs provide guidance by phone, in person, and in other ways, such as the Internet, that are tailored to each individual family.

Child Care Subsidy

See Child Care Assistance

Child Development

The process by which a child acquires skills socially, emotionally, intellectually, through speech and language, and physically. Development stages are the expected order children will obtain skills. Typically a child crawls before walking and/or use their fingers before using utensils.

Child Development Associate (CDA)

An individual who has successfully completed a CDA assessment and has been awarded the CDA Credential. For more information, click here .

Child Passenger Restraint Device

A seat belt, car seat, or booster seat used to secure and protect a child while in a vehicle.

Child Protective Services

A public agency responsible for receiving and investigating reports of suspected abuse or neglect.

Child Support

Money a non-custodial parent pays to financially support their children. This support may include a monthly court ordered amount, medical and dental expenses, and child care expenses.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

A Federal program that allows states to provide health insurance to uninsured children. For more information, click here .

Cognitive Delays

Delays in one’s development of thinking and reasoning skills.

Cognitive Development

Skills learned related to thinking and reasoning. This development takes place from childhood through adulthood.


The ability to understand the meaning of subject matter.

Comprehensive Services

A variety of services offered to families to promote a child’s development. These services may consist of physical, social, emotional, and cognitive components.

Concept Development

Understanding specific ideas or thoughts relating to various topics; shapes, size, etc.


To maintain regular patterns and practices. In child care, providing consistency between parent and caregiver may result in less stress on the child.

Consumer Education

Providing parents/families, caregivers, and the general public with information related to quality child care and the early childhood education field.

Continuity of Care

Providing children/youth with a stable and nurturing environment over long periods of time.

Corporate Child Care

Corporations may either fund or subsidize child care for their employee’s children. Parents employed by these corporations are able to enroll their children in local day care centers in which the corporation has purchased spaces or in an on-site center. These centers must meet state licensing requirements.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment

A change in wages or benefits to allow for the cost-of-living inflation.


The ability to think or create using your imagination, typically characterized by originality and expressiveness.

Cultural Awareness

Understanding and respecting the history, values, customs, and language of people from different backgrounds.

Cultural Competence

In child care, caregivers have the skills to help provide services sensitive to a person’s cultural background.


Guided areas of instruction of children including: cognitive, social/emotional; self-management/health, and speech/language.

Custodial Parent

The person who has primary care and custody of a minor child.

Custodial Parent

The person who has primary care and custody of a minor child.