Quality Child Care Counts

Finding A Place Where Your Child Can Thrive

There are many types of good child care. Whether a child is cared for by a parent, grandparent, trusted caregiver or licensed child care facility, First 5 California is committed to making sure that all environments are safe and nurturing. In California, 62 percent of children under 5 years of age spend at least part of their day in the care of someone other than their parents. Research shows that children in high quality care environments show more advanced language skills, do better in school and have fewer behavior problems and better social skills. Research also shows that teachers with bachelor's degrees and specialized training in child development provide young children with the best preparation to succeed in kindergarten.

Unfortunately, research shows that only one in seven early learning or child care centers provides a level of quality that promotes healthy development and learning. Eighty-six percent of programs have been found to be of "mediocre or poor" quality and more than 11 percent have been found to be substandard. There were similar results for family child care.

About half of children in child care attend licensed child care facilities. Due to the gap in availability and the high cost of child care, many parents turn to unlicensed or informal caregivers (family, friends and neighbors, or FFN) who often lack formal training and who may not have the most current information on child development or parenting techniques. Some of the other challenges that California parents face when seeking quality child care include:

  • Care for just one child in a licensed child care center can cost 20 percent of a family's median yearly income. For a single woman working full-time at minimum wage, the cost of child care can eat up 50 percent of her pre-tax earnings.
  • Child care remains one of the lowest-paid professions in the state, and turnover rates among providers is extremely high. Seventy percent of early learning teachers earn poverty level wages.
  • Twenty-five percent of California families who need child care, leave their children in the care of a friend or relative. This is called "informal care" or family, friend and neighbor care. Care provided by friends, family or neighbors is not regulated.
  • More than 60 percent of California women with young children work outside the home.
  • Newborn to 5-year-old children with parents working full-time spend an average of 38 hours per week in non-parental care.

For these reasons, finding quality, affordable child care is one of the biggest concerns that California parents face.

Tips for Parents & Caregivers