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Questions Frequently Asked by Parents

Q: My child's elementary school has no before- or after-school child care on site. What are other options?

A: See the School-age programs list to find the center  that provides transportation and care for children from Redwood City public schools on the "traditional calendar". Licensed family child care homes may also provide that for families at your school; call 4Cs for referrals:517-1460. If your school has a license-exempt Afterschool (grant-supported) program, that may be an option; ask at the school office.

Q: Is there drop-in child care available for a young child? I only need occasional hours for short-term jobs or errands.

A: Most child care programs do not take children who aren't regularly enrolled since they are required by State Licensing to have completed paperwork on file for each child. They also must staff their classrooms ahead of time so may take a child on a space available basis only. Some programs may allow you to complete enrollment forms and use very part-time care or drop in with short notice. Other programs feel it's too disruptive to their programs to accommodate. Family child care home providers tend to be more flexible about taking drop-ins than centers.You can call to inquire. If your occasional child care needs could be accommodated in a regular part-day schedule (e.g. 2 mornings per week), many programs offer options.

Q: I can't afford tuition fees at a part-day preschool and don't qualify for state-funded preschool, but I know my child should attend for school readiness and socialization reasons. What can I do?

A: Many parents face this situation! Parent cooperative preschools (2 in Redwood City) may be a more affordable option for you. Part-day or part-week schedules in a full-day center may also be less expensive, as might a preschool operated in a licensed home setting. Aside from those, many preschool enrichment programs, activities and events are available in the community through Parks & Rec Dept., Sequoia YMCA, the Redwood City Mothers Club, private art/music/dance/gym studios and other facilities. These can provide the learning and social opportunities to help your child be ready for kindergarten--besides, of course, what you provide at home!

Q: I would like my baby and my 3-year-old to be together in child care, for convenience and their comfort. What are my choices?

A: Family child care homes are the best option since they are licensed to care for children up to 12 years of age, allowing a family home-like setting.In the few child care centers that serve infants/toddlers as well as preschool-age (2.5/3 to 5), children are in care groups/classrooms by age group with different adult/child ratios and age-appropriate programming and physical environment. Siblings may be allowed to spend limited time together. Hiring a caregiver in your own home is an option, of course.

Q: I work a non-traditional schedule (late shift) at a hospital. Is there any child care available after 6:00 pm and before 6:00 am?

A: Child care centers close by 6:00 or 6:30 at latest; there isn't sufficient demand for 'non-traditional hours care' to support that type of service. (Palcare in Burlingame is the only such program in San Mateo County.) Fortunately, some family child care home providers provide evening, early morning, night and/or weekend care.

Q: Is "preschool" better quality than "child care/day care center"?

A: While the term "preschool" suggests that learning is taking place, the various terms (including child development center, nursery school, learning academy, etc.) are used interchangeably and do not ensure quality. With few exceptions, they are all licensed by the State as Child Care Centers. Regulations for centers address staff qualifications and teacher/child ratios but do not prescribe program content/curriculum. (State-funded child development programs must meet additional, extensive Dept. of Education standards.) Parents are advised to learn about choosing quality preschool/child care.

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