Choosing a Family Child Care Home


As a parent, your child’s well being, health and safety are in your hands. When the selection of a child care provider is made carefully, positive results are most likely to occur.

  1. Plan ahead. Choosing child care takes time. Begin your search at least one month in advance.
  2. Contact the COCOKIDS for free referrals to licensed family day care homes or centers.
  3. Call each child care provider to determine specific services and policies. If the provider offers care which meets your needs, set up a time to visit the program while children are present.
  4. Interview several providers and observe their programs. Watch how children play and interact with each other.
  5. Contact other parents who are using the program. Ask if they are satisfied and if their children are happy and well cared for.
  6. Select the child care situation which best meets the needs of your family. Trust your feelings and your instincts.


Family Style

Children in provider’s care are taken in as an extension of the provider’s own family. Casual, relaxed atmosphere.

Play Learning Environment

The day’s activities are determined by the individual needs of each child. Providers recognize that children learn by playing and by exploring the world. This setting may offer a preschool program to enhance the daily routine.

Structured or Semi-Structured

Provider offers organized activities like circle time, arts and crafts projects, and a music or story hour to enhance the daily routines.


Regardless of the type of care you choose, it is important to establish a partnership with the person responsible for the day to day care of your child(ren). Some qualities to look for in potential providers include:

  • Shares your same basic child raising philosophy
  • Is loving and friendly and possesses a sense of humor
  • Enjoys his/her work; is committed to the profession
  • Respects children and is supportive of each child’s individuality


Licensed family day care homes are regulated by California State Law. Child care providers can care for no more than six children at one time, including their own children under age ten. Or care may be provided for up to twelve children if there is a qualified helper and an expanded license capacity. A special license addendum is required if caring for two additional children six years or older.

In addition, the laws also stipulate:

  • Poisons, medicines, cleaning supplies, must be stored in child-proof cabinet.
  • Swimming pool or spa area is fenced or covered.
  • Firearms are stored in locked cabinet.
  • Emergency fire and earthquake plans exist.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke alarms are in working order.
  • Home is clean and adequately ventilated and heated.


Remember that your child will be in another’s care for long periods of time each day. Children need opportunities to:

  • Explore their environment with limited restrictions.
  • Feel safe and secure.
  • Have comfortable eating and napping space.
  • Have space for active and quiet play, both indoors and out.
  • Play with age-appropriate, non-sexist books and toys.


The COCOKIDS offers referral services to licensed child programs. These referrals are available to all parents free of charge. The COCOKIDS does not recommend any particular child care provider, facility or service, but rather simply makes referrals. These referrals are intended to provide parents with a maximum of choices. It is your responsibility to screen, interview and select the child care situation which works best for your family.


The maximum number of children allowed to be enrolled in a family child care home is regulated by Community Care Licensing. The number of children or “licensed capacity” is determined by considerations which include the ages of the children, as well as the providers’ responsibilities as a tenant or homeowner.

Adult/Child Ratios

Without Landord’s consent, you can care for up to six children.

4 infants only, or
3 infants, 3 school-age and/or pre-schoolers, or
2 infants, 4 school-age and/or pre-schoolers, or
1 infant, 5 school-age and/or pre-schoolers, or
6 school-age and/or pre-schoolers

With Landlord’s consent, you can care for up to eight children. The two additional children must be at least 6 years old. As long as the number of infants does not exceed two, a provider licensed for eight can take any combination of children over two years old, as long as at least two children are six years old.

1 six year old, 2 infants, 4 pre-schoolers, or
1 six year old, 1 infant, 5 pre-schoolers, or
1 six year old, 6 pre-schoolers, or
2 six year olds, 2 infants, 4 pre-schoolers, or
2 six year olds, 1 infant, 5 pre-schoolers, or
2 six year olds, 6 pre-schoolers, or
8 school-agers (at least six years old)

No assistant is required with any of the above groupings.

Note: When the first additional six year old is added, you must reduce the maximum number of infants by one.


Infant: newborn to second birthday
Pre-schooler: age two to entry into first grade
School-age: entry into first grade and up
Six year old: child must have reached sixth birthday

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