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There are many types of childcare options, and the SCC R&R Program is here to help you understand the differences. 

Only a parent can judge whether a childcare setting or preschool program is right for his or her child. To help you make that decision, please review the descriptions of different types of childcare below.
The types of childcare below may vary based upon setting, the educational component they offer, if they can support paying for the program, and more. To learn more about evaluating your childcare choices and to download a handout explaining your choices by age, please visit our Evaluating Childcare Settings page. 
If you need more help understanding the different types of childcare options, our R&R Program Specialists would be happy to help you. You can contact the SCC R&R Program directly at 669-212-KIDS (5437) or by emailing 

Types of Childcare

Some types of care are licensed by the State of California’s Community Care Licensing Division. Licensed care assures a minimal standard of health and safety protection and is regulated by Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. It does not ensure quality.

Licensed Childcare Centers and Preschools

Childcare centers are almost always licensed. They provide group care outside of a home. Generally, licensed centers require one adult for every four infants, one adult for every 12 preschoolers, or one adult for every 14 school-age children. Teachers and directors in childcare centers are required to meet specific educational requirements set by the state.

Licensed Family Child Care Homes

Licensed family childcare is offered in a caregiver’s own home. Providers can be licensed to care for up to 8 or 14 children. Because infants require more care than older children, the acceptable number of children depends on the age mix of children in care. A provider caring for more than 8 children must have an assistant. Licensed family childcare home providers are licensed and monitored by the state. In addition, they must comply with Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, which govern basic health and safety standards for licensed childcare.

State-Funded Preschool Programs (Title 5 Programs)

The California Department of Education, Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) provides funding for a variety of childcare and early education programs, through contracts with centers that provide preschool, infant, and after-school programs, as well as family childcare home networks. These programs must follow basic health and safety standards set by the state (Title 22 Regulations), but also have additional requirements they must follow that include eligibility requirements to enroll, staff qualifications, assessments, curriculum standards, and ratios.

Head Start Programs

Head Start is a nationwide, federally-funded early childhood program for low-income preschool children, primarily ages three to five. It is designed to provide comprehensive services in preparation for public school. Services include cognitive and language development, medical, dental, mental health, nutritional, and social services. The program places particular emphasis on parental involvement. For information about specific eligibility requirements, you can contact the Institute for Human and Social Development (IHSD) at (650) 578-3440.

QUALITY MATTERS...a STRONG START for Kids Participating Providers

QUALITY MATTERS is a voluntary program supporting educators in Santa Clara to raise the quality of the care and education they provide. Providers opt-in to participate in QUALITY MATTERS and participate in targeted activities like participating in training and education to work towards raising the quality of their program.

License-Exempt Child Care

Some programs, such as parent co-ops and after-school programs, may be exempt from licensing. Some reasons programs may be exempt from licensing may include that the provider is exclusively providing care for the children of one family, the program is a legally operated public recreation program with limited days/ hours of operation, a school-district operated after-school program, a cooperative arrangement between parents for the care of their children where no payment is involved and the arrangement meets certain conditions. 
Having a relative, neighbor, or friend provide care for your child is also an option. In-home license-exempt care allows an individual to provide care for their own children and the children of one other family. License-exempt providers are required to have a TrustLine clearance.
TrustLine is a database of nannies, babysitters and childcare providers who have cleared criminal background checks in California, including fingerprint checks by the California Department of Justice and the FBI. It is a program of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and is administered jointly by CDSS and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network (Network).
Access to TrustLine is free. To check if a provider is registered on TrustLine, call (800) 822-8490 or email
Information about TrustLine can also be obtained from the SCC R&R Program by calling R&R Program at 669-212-KIDS (5437) or by emailing