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Child Care Glossary

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A child’s natural or adoptive parent, or guardian, who is legally responsible for the child.

Parent cooperative preschool

A non-profit program developed and supported by a group of parents. These programs typically have hired educational professionals who teach the children and are assisted by parents in the organization.

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)

PRWORA is the federal welfare reform act. Titles in the act provide block grants for temporary assistance to needy families and child care; changes to Supplemental Security Income, child support, child protection, child nutrition, and food stamp program requirements; and restriction of welfare and public assistance benefits for aliens. PRWORA replaced AFDC programs with a stable block grant for six years. The replacement block grant program is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides states greater flexibility in designing eligibility, benefit calculation and other criteria.

Physical disabilities

Disorders that result in significantly reduced bodily function, mobility, or endurance.

Pre-Kindergarten (pre-k)

Programs designed for children who are ages 3 to 5 with early education experiences to prepare them for school. Programs are also referred to as preschool and/or nursery school programs.

Preschool programs

Programs that provide care for children ages 3 to 5. They usually operate for three to four hours per day, and from two to five days a week.

Primary language

The first language a child learns.

Print awareness

An awareness of the rules of written language, such as knowing that letters and numbers convey meaning and that words are separated by spaces.

Professional development

In the child care field, the term refers to opportunities for child care providers to get ongoing training to increase their preparation and skill to care for children. These include mentoring programs, credentialing programs, in-service training, and degree programs.

Proprietary care

A private or corporate owned child care program designed to be a for-profit organization.


Individual offering child care services child care services, e.g., child care centers, family child care homes, school-age child care programs.

Public assistance

Assistance to families or individuals through federal, state, or local governments. For more information, click here .

Public Law 99-457

Federal law passed in 1986 that extended special education services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities. P.L. 99-457 was reauthorized in 1991 and is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).