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For Families

Find High-Quality Child Care with ChildCare.gov

ChildCare.gov helps parents access safe and quality child care services in their community that best suit 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. Searching is easy. Go to ChildCare.gov, enter your state, and click on “Find Child Care Now in [Your State].”

ChildCare.gov can also help you find local child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies that may be able to help you with your search and answer your child care questions. To find a local CCR&R agency, go to ChildCare.gov, search for your state, and click on “Get Child Care Resources for [Your State].” ChildCare.gov also includes information about the state agency responsible for licensing child care providers, child care regulations for each state, provider-specific information (including inspection reports), complaint histories, and more.

FIND LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND STANDARDS

State child care licensing regulations help protect the health and safety of children in child care. Licensing regulations outline the minimum standards that providers must meet to operate legally. They often include rules that ensure caregivers have passed criminal background checks and have taken required health and safety trainings, including CPR. Child care licensing regulations may cover many topics, including the following:

  • Number of children an adult can care for at one time (child-staff ratio) and number of children allowed in a class (group size)
  • Supervision of children
  • Safety of the building, including emergency exits, cleanliness, repairs, and potential dangers
  • Methods to stop the spread of disease, including immunizations, handwashing, proper diapering procedures, and so on
  • Nutrition of food served to children

Child care licensing laws vary from state to state. You can find information about the licensing rules in your state by visiting the national ChildCare.gov website.

FIND DETAILS AND INSPECTION HISTORIES FOR A SPECIFIC CHILD CARE PROVIDER

The ChildCare.gov national website contains links to state-specific information about child care providers and resources. You can find information about specific child care providers, including available information about their licensing history, copies of inspection reports, and complaints. To find information about providers in your state, go to ChildCare.gov, enter your state, and click on “Get Child Care Resources for [Your State].”

FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A CENTER OR PROVIDER

Complaints against child care providers can be filed by contacting the state child care licensing agency. You can find a phone number for your state on ChildCare.gov. Once on ChildCare.gov, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for this telephone operator icon: telephone operator icon

GET HELP PAYING FOR CHILD CARE

There are several ways to get help paying 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 eligibility requirements and to find out if you qualify for child care assistance, contact the child care assistance agency in your state. To find out how to reach the child care assistance office in your state, go to ChildCare.gov, search for your state, and click on “Get Child Care Resources for [Your State].” Once you land on the next page, click on “Financial Assistance for Families.”
  • Some child care programs, especially those run by nonprofit community agencies such as the YMCA, 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 along with other factors such as medical expenses and housing costs when figuring out how much to charge you.
  • CCR&R agencies sometimes have information about child care programs that offer special funding options or sliding fee scales based on your household income. You can find information about local CCR&R offices on the ChildCare.gov website. To find a local CCR&R agency, go to ChildCare.gov, search for your state, and click on “Get Child Care Resources for [Your State].”
  • You may be able to get some tax relief to help reduce your family’s financial burden through lowering your taxes or increasing the amount of your refund. The National Women’s Law Center provides useful information about federal and state tax credits for child care. 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 800-829-1040, visit the IRS website, or visit the webpage, “Get Help Paying for Child Care,” on ChildCare.gov.

Find more information about available financial assistance.

Get Information about In-Home or Nanny Care

In-home care takes place in the child’s home and 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 888-878-1477, email info@nanny.org, or visit the INA website.

The 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. You can call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

LEARN ABOUT LEAVING YOUR CHILD HOME ALONE

Few states have regulations or laws about the age at which children can stay home alone or care for other children. However, Safe Kids Worldwide 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 800-394-3366, and staff there will refer you to your local child protective services agency to learn about age guidelines in your area.

FIND INFORMATION ABOUT CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Resource Guide: Child Development Resources for Parents and Providers includes information about resources in your state and community, publications with child development information, links to information on the web, and a list of programs that distribute books to parents and providers. You can also find information about child development resources in your state by visiting ChildCare.gov, entering your state, and clicking on “Get Child Care Resources for [Your State].”

INFORMATION ABOUT THE OFFICE OF CHILD CARE

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 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.

To find more information about child care in your state, visit ChildCare.gov.