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Frequently Asked Questions by Parents-- About Child Care and Early Education

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?

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 (required) 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.

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?

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.

Will child care/preschool programs take my child on a drop-in basis? I have occasional needs for care.

Most programs prefer to fill their spaces with regular, paying clients but may allow it on a space available basis. Some find it too disruptive to an ongoing classroom. Family child care home providers tend to be more flexible about taking drop-ins than centers. In any case, they would need to have on file the extensive enrollment paperwork that State Licensing requires for any child attending. 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.

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

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.

Parents: Send in your questions to be considered for addition to this page.

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