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For Families

The Office of Child Care (OCC) supports low-income working families by providing access to affordable, high-quality early care and afterschool programs. OCC administers the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and works with state, territory, and tribal governments to provide support for children and their families to find child care programs that will fit their needs and that will prepare children to succeed in school.

Find High-Quality Child Care with ChildCare.gov

ChildCare.gov helps parents access safe and quality child care services in their community that best suits their family’s needs. ChildCare.gov provides links to state or territory child care websites that parents use to search for child care and consumer education information.

You can also call the office that is responsible for child care regulations in your state. This office can let you know what regulations child care programs in your state must meet. The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations contains direct website links to state child care licensing regulations documents and licensing agency contact information. Users can access, download, and search state child care licensing regulations that apply to child care centers, family child care homes, and other licensed child care programs For more information, the Resource Guide: Child Care Information for Families document provides information for families and others seeking child care, including answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about child care.

Get Help Paying for Child Care

There are several ways to help parents pay for child care.

  • State child care assistance programs are funded through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), and each state has its own eligibility guidelines. For specific information about the eligibility requirements and to find out if you qualify for child care assistance, contact the child care assistance agency. To find out how to reach the child care assistance office in your state, go to the .
  • Some child care programs, especially those run by nonprofit community agencies such as the YMCA or YWCA or religious groups, often offer scholarships or programs to help you pay for tuition. Other child care programs may consider the size of your household income, and other things such as medical expenses and housing costs, when figuring out how much to charge you.
  • Child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies sometimes have information about child care programs that have special funding options or sliding fee scales based on your household income. Child Care Aware offers a that provides contact information for all state and local CCR&R agencies.
  • You may be able to get some tax relief to help reduce the financial burden for your family by lowering your taxes or increasing the amount of your refund. The National Women’s Law Center provides useful . The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also provides information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. For more information, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040Skype or visit the .

For more information, the Resource Guide: Child Care Information for Families document provides information for families and others seeking child care, including answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about child care.

Learn about Leaving Your Child Home Alone

Few states have regulations or laws about the age at which children are allowed to stay home alone or care for other children. However, the National SafeKids Campaign recommends that no child be left alone before the age of 12 and many states have guidelines to help you make the decision. Guidelines are often developed by child protective services and are administered at the county level. Contact the Child Welfare Information Gateway at 800-394-3366Skype, and staff there will refer you to your local child protective services agency to learn about age guidelines in your area.

For more information, the Resource Guide: Child Care Information for Families document provides information for families and others seeking child care, including answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about child care.

Find Licensing Requirements and Standards

State child care licensing regulations help protect the health and safety of children in out-of-home care. Licensing helps prevent different forms of harm to children, which can include risks from the spread of disease, fire and other building safety hazards, and injury. Licensing also helps prevent developmental impairment from children’s lack of healthy relationships with adults, adequate supervision, and developmentally appropriate activities.

Licensing is a process administered by state governments that sets a baseline of requirements below which it is illegal for facilities to operate, unless they are legally exempt from licensing. States have regulations that include the requirements facilities must comply with and policies to support the enforcement of those regulations.

Child care licensing laws vary from state to state. The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations contains direct website links to state child care licensing regulations documents and licensing agency contact information. Users can access, download, and search state child care licensing regulations that apply to child care centers, family child care homes, and other licensed child care programs. Visit the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations to learn more.

Find a Specific Center or Provider

Information about specific providers is available from your local child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agency. This agency provides information to the public about how to find child care that meets local regulations and requirements. Providers can ask to be added to the CCR&R directory of providers so that parents who call the agency can receive information about their services. Child Care Aware offers a child care finder tool that provides contact information for all state and local CCR&R agencies.

File a Complaint against a Center or Provider

Complaints against child care providers can be filed by contacting the state child care licensing agency. The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations contains direct website links to state child care licensing regulations documents and licensing agency contact information. Users can access, download, and search state child care licensing regulations that apply to child care centers, family child care homes, and other licensed child care programs. Visit the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations to learn more.

Get Information about In-Home Care

In-home care (in the child’s home) is often provided by a nanny. A useful organization for information about nannies, including employing nannies, is the International Nanny Association (INA). The INA is a nonprofit, educational association for nannies and those who educate, place, employ, and support professional in-home child care providers. For more information, call INA at 888-878-1477Skype, email info@nanny.org, or visit the INA website.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides information about tax obligations for individuals and businesses. The following two IRS tax topics provide information about household employees and independent contractors.

In addition, the Household Employer Tax Guide provides detailed information about tax regulations, credits, and applicable forms. The IRS also provides information about how to contact a local office. You can call the IRS at 800-829-1040Skype or visit the IRS website.

For more information, the Resource Guide: Child Care Information for Families document provides information for families and others seeking child care, including answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about child care.

Find Information about Child Development

The Resource Guide: Child Development Resources for Parents and Providers document includes information about resources in your state and community, publications with child development information, and links to information on the web. It also includes a list of programs that distribute books to parents and providers.