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Chapter 8 - Child Care

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Ten percent of the nation's children live in California, and it is reported that 18% of those children under the age of 13 live in poverty. It is estimated that 59% of children under 13 live in households in which either both parents or the single-parent head-of-house works outside the home. A single parent with one child in full-time child care, earning minimum wage, would be expected to pay approximately 47% of his/her wages for licensed child care. In California, it is estimated that in 1997 there are more than 12,700 licensed day care centers, and more than 52,000 family child care providers.(1) As the number of families with two working parents and the number of single-parent households grow, the need for quality child care in California increases.

Publicly-subsidized child care in California is divided between center-based care, in which children attend a licensed center, and family-based care, in which parents choose from a variety of child care options. This chapter describes state and federally-subsidized child care programs, as well as other options available to parents with dependent children. The reference list at the end of this chapter may assist you in finding child care and in answering your particular questions. Families who do not qualify for subsidized child care may also use the resources of the California Resource and Referral Network listed at the end of this chapter for information on child care providers in their area.

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PUBLICLY-SUBSIDIZED CHILD CARE AND RELATED SERVICES

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The Department of Education, Child Development Division, administers, or contracts with the publicly-subsidized child-care programs listed in this section, except for the California School Age Families Education (Cal-SAFE Program), which is administered by the Department of Education, Learning Support and Partnership Division (see discussion, infra). (Ed. Code, § 8262.) The reference list at the end of this section for the Department of Education will provide you with a starting point to obtain additional information for any of the subsidized child care programs listed. The funds for publicly-subsidized child care programs come from federal block grants, state funds and some local funds.(2)

Families are eligible for state-funded child care programs if they meet at least one requirement in each of the following areas: 1) a family is a current aid recipient, income-eligible,(3) homeless, or one whose children are recipients of protective services, or who have been identified as being abused, neglected or exploited or at risk of being abused, neglected or exploited; 2) a family needs the child care service because the child is identified by a legal, medical, social service agency or emergency shelter as a recipient of protective services; being neglected, abused or exploited or at risk of neglect, abuse or exploitation; or having a medical or psychiatric special need that cannot be met without the provision of child care; or the parents are engaged in vocational training leading directly to a recognized trade, paraprofession or profession; employed or seeking employment, seeking permanent housing for family stability, or incapacitated, including a medical or psychiatric special need that cannot be met without the provision of child day care. (Ed. Code, § 8263(a)(1) and (2).)

The amount of fees a family pays is determined by the family's annual income and the services to be provided to its children. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 18108.)

Ordinarily, a physical examination and evaluation, including age-appropriate immunization, shall be required prior to, or within six weeks of enrollment. (Ed. Code, § 8263(d).)

Children 14 years and under are eligible to receive state-funded child care services, although children with exceptional needs or who are severely handicapped can receive child care up to the age of 21. (Ed. Code, § 8265.5.)

Programs funded with federal funds are governed by regulations contained at 45 C.F.R. §§ 255-257, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 602-603. There are three main federal programs. The first is child care provided to parents during their participation in employment, education and training. This child care must be guaranteed to a dependent child who is under 13,(4) physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself/herself (based upon a determination by a physician or psychologist), or under court supervision, to the extent that such child care is necessary to permit an AFDC-eligible(5) family member to accept employment or remain employed, or to participate in an approved education or training activity. (45 C.F.R. § 255.2.)

Child care must be provided for a period not to exceed two weeks for an individual waiting to enter an education or training program or to commence employment, or for a period not to exceed one month where child care arrangements would otherwise be lost and the education or training program or employment will begin within that period. It must also be provided while a parent participates in a job search or other approved activities in preparation for employment. (45 C.F.R. § 255.2(d)(1) and (2).)

Federally-funded transitional child care is available to families whose AFDC assistance has ceased, due to increased hours of, or earnings from employment, or as a result of the loss of income disregards pursuant to 45 C.F.R. § 233.20(a)(11). (45 C.F.R. § 256.0.) The eligibility requirements are similar to those governed by 45 C.F.R. § 255, except that the family must also have received AFDC in at least three of the six months immediately preceding the first month of ineligibility, have requested transitional child care benefits, and have provided the information necessary for determining eligibility and fees.

Eligibility begins with the first month for which the family is ineligible for AFDC and continues for a period of 12 consecutive months. The family is not eligible if the caretaker relative terminates employment without good cause, or fails to cooperate with a state agency in establishing payments and enforcing child support obligations. (45 C.F.R. § 256.2.) The family must be required to contribute toward the payment of such care, based on ability to pay. (45 C.F.R. § 256.3.)

Finally, federal funding is available for at-risk child care programs for low-income working families who need child care in order to work and are at risk of becoming eligible for AFDC. (45 C.F.R. § 257.1.) A family is eligible for this child care if it is low-income, is not receiving AFDC, is at risk of becoming eligible for AFDC, needs such child care in order to accept employment or remain employed, and meets any other conditions imposed by the state. This child care can be provided to any child under 13, or to any child under age 19, if he/she is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself/herself, or under court supervision.

The state may provide this child care if child care arrangements would otherwise be lost for up to two weeks prior to the scheduled start of employment, or for up to one month during a break in employment, if subsequent employment is scheduled to begin within that period. (45 C.F.R. § 257.30.) A sliding fee for child care can be charged, based on ability to pay, and contributions may be waived for families whose income is at or below the poverty level for a family of the same size. (45 C.F.R. § 257.31.)

The demand for subsidized child care far exceeds available funds, so priorities for services have been established. First priority is given to neglected or abused children who are recipients of child protective services, or recipients who are at risk of being neglected or abused, upon written referral from a legal, medical or social service agency. When an agency is unable to enroll a child, it shall refer the family to local resource and referral services.

Second priority shall be equally given to eligible families, regardless of the number of parents in the home, who are income-eligible. Within this priority, families with the lowest gross monthly income in relation to family size, as determined by a schedule adopted by the superintendent of education, shall be admitted first. When two or more families are in the same priority in relation to income, the family that has been on the waiting list for the longest amount of time shall be admitted first. For purposes of determining order of admission, the grants of public assistance recipients shall be counted as income.

The superintendent of education shall set criteria for and may grant specific waivers of these priorities for agencies that wish to service specific populations, including disabled children or children of prisoners. These new waivers shall not include proposals to avoid appropriate fee schedules or admit ineligible families, but may include proposals to accept members of special populations in other than strict income order, so long as appropriate fees are paid.

In order to promote continuity of services, a family enrolled in a state or federally-funded child care and development program whose services would otherwise be terminated because the family no longer meets the program income, eligibility, or need criteria can continue to receive child development services in another state or federally-funded child care and development program if the contractor is able to transfer the family's enrollment to another program for which the family is eligible prior to the date of termination of services, or to exchange the family's existing enrollment with the enrollment of a family in another program, provided that both families satisfy the eligibility requirements for the program in which they are being enrolled. (Ed. Code, § 8263.)

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General Child Care Program

The General Child Care Program provides comprehensive child development services for low-income parents who are either working, looking for work, in training, or are homeless. Parents of children who are physically or mentally incapacitated are also eligible. This program also provides child development services to children who are neglected, abused, or exploited, or are at risk of being so. General child care programs are often run by public agencies, such as school districts or county offices of education. Most of the programs run by public agencies are center-based and provide nutrition and parental education, as well as information on child development and care. Some general child care programs are operated through private agencies, such as local community action organizations or nonprofit corporations. General child care programs vary as to the time and dates when care is available. (Ed. Code, §§ 8240 et seq.; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 18077 et seq.)(6)

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Campus Child Development Programs

Campus child care centers provide care for children of students(7) in California community colleges, four-year colleges, and the ariality of California system. Child care may be provided all day or may be adjusted to a parent's class schedule. These centers may also serve as training sites for students in college child development classes. Programs are funded by a combination of parent fees, student body fees, and state funds. (Ed. Code, § 66060; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 18175.)

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Migrant Child Care

The Migrant Child Care and Development Program provides child care and development and related services to children of "migrant agricultural worker families"(8) working in fishing, agricultural, or related industries during peak periods in those industries, usually between May and October.(9) Centers offering this type of child care are operated by county offices of education, school districts and private nonprofit agencies. (Ed. Code, §§ 8231-8233; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 18190 et seq..)

In 1994, the Legislature established a three-year Pilot Migrant Family Day Care Program that trains and supports migrant workers to become family day care home providers to take care of migrant preschool children. To be eligible to participate, a family must be a "migrant agricultural worker family," be income-eligible according to section 18078 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, and derive the principal source of its income from agricultural work. (Ed. Code, § 8234.)

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California School Age Families Education

The California School Age Families Education (Cal-SAFE) Program, was established by Chapter 1078, Statutes of 1998, which became operational in July 2000. It is designed to increase the availability of support services necessary for enrolled expectant/parenting students in order to improve academic achievement and parenting skills and to provide a quality child care/development program for their children. This comprehensive, continuous, and community-linked school-based program replaces the Pregnant Minors Program (PMP), the School Age Parenting and Infant Development (SAPID) Program, and the Pregnant and Lactating Students (PALS) Program.

The Cal-SAFE Program builds upon education reform initiatives, assures a quality education program with high standards for enrolled students, and mandates the accountability of local educational agencies (LEAs) for the performance of students and for the services provided to their children. The Program provides the first opportunity for LEAs throughout California to access sufficient resources to support a seamless, cost-effective service delivery system from the students’ point of entry into the Program until graduation.

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Special Programs for Children with Severe Disabilities

Special programs for severely handicapped(10) children provide supervision, care therapy, youth guidance and parental counseling to eligible families at no charge. This program is currently very small and only available in the Bay Area. The federal government also provides funds for infant and preschool programs for children with severe disabilities. Severely disabled children, from infants to 21 years of age, are eligible for these services. (Ed. Code, § 8250 and 8265.5; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5 § 18210 et seq.; 20 U.S.C. §§ 1419 et seq. and 1475 et seq.; 34 C.F.R. § 301 et seq. and 303 et seq.)

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State Preschool

State preschool programs provide partial-day child care and related services to prepare three to five-year-old children from low income families(11) for kindergarten. Priorities are given to children who are recipients of child protective services, or who are at risk of being neglected or abused, and to four-year olds. The preschools offer educational and social services, as well as health and nutrition programs. The preschools emphasize parental education and involvement. Often, the children and parents participating in state preschools speak limited English. Therefore, some programs have bilingual components. State preschools are administered by school districts, county offices of education and private agencies. (Ed. Code, §§ 8235 and 8236; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5 § 18130 et seq.)

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Alternative Payment Programs

Alternative payment programs offer parents the choice of deciding on the type and style of child care best suited for each child. Eligible child care providers include in-home care by family members or baby-sitters, licensed family child care homes, and center-based care. The parents choose a child care provider.(12) If the provider is eligible, the alternative payment program pays the child care provider directly once a month. This program is similar to the General Child Care program. (Ed. Code, §§ 8220, et seq.; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 18220 et seq.)

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Child Protective Services

Child protective services operate programs through local welfare agencies, that contract with local nonprofit agencies and referral services. These groups provide temporary, emergency child care to children who are at risk and in need of protective services, and who are ineligible for other state or federally-subsidized child care. (Ed. Code, § 8252.)

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Sick Child Care

All child care and development programs should include plans or programs for the care of sick children. (Ed. Code, § 8251.)

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School Age Community Child Care Services (LATCHKEY)

The Latchkey program provides extended-day programs in safe environments for school age children during the hours immediately before and after school and during vacations. Latchkey programs are operated by school districts and nonprofit organizations. At least half of all program costs must be paid for through parent fees. (Ed. Code, §§ 8460 et seq.)

Priority for enrollment in these programs is as follows: First priority shall be given to recipients of child protective services for children who are neglected or abused, or at risk of being neglected or abused, upon written referral from a legal, medical, social service, or public agency. Within this priority, families with the lowest gross monthly income shall be admitted first. When an agency is unable to enroll a child in need of protective services, the agency shall refer the family to local resource and referral services to locate services for the child.

Second priority shall go to children in kindergarten and grades 1 to 3, inclusive, and their schoolage siblings under the age of 13 years, whose families need extended day care service because parents are engaged in vocational training leading directly to a recognized trade, paraprofession or profession; are employed or seeking employment; or are incapacitated. Within this priority, families with the lowest gross monthly income in relation to family size shall be admitted first.

Third priority shall go to children in grades 4 to 9, inclusive, and their school age siblings under 13 years, whose families need extended day care services because of the same reasons mentioned in the second priority category above. Also within this priority, families with the lowest gross monthly income in relation to family size shall be admitted first.

Agencies may apply to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for a waiver of these priorities.

Each program shall serve individuals with exceptional needs, as defined in Education Code section 56026. The percentage of children who are individuals with exceptional needs in each program shall be at least equal to the percentage of children in kindergarten and grades 1 to 8, inclusive, residing in the school district and receiving special education services, unless the demand for this level of service does not exist.

In order for an extended day care program to receive funding for a child served, the child's family must meet at least one requirement in each of the following areas:

  1. A family shall be one of the following:
    1. a recipient of benefits under the AFDC program, the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Program, or a general assistance program;
    2. income eligible;
    3. one whose children are recipients of protective services, or whose children have been identified as being abused, neglected or exploited or at risk of being abused, neglected or exploited.
  2. A family shall need the child care service because the requirements of either (a) or (b) apply:
    1. The child is identified by a legal, medical or social service agency as meeting one of more of the following criteria: the child is a recipient of protective services, the child is neglected, abused, or exploited, or at risk of neglect, abuse or exploitation, or the child has a medical or psychiatric special need that cannot be met without the provision of extended day care, or
    2. the child's parents meet one of the following criteria: the parents are engaged in vocational training leading directly to a recognized trade, paraprofession, or profession, the parents are employed or seeking employment, or the parents are incapacitated, including a medical or psychiatric need that cannot be met without the provision of extended day care. (Ed. Code, § 8468; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5 § 18200 et seq.)

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Head Start

Head Start programs are administered and funded by federal agencies for children of primarily low-income, disadvantaged families. To be eligible for Head Start, a child generally must be at least three years old by the date used to determine eligibility for public school in the community in which the program is located. At least 90% of the children enrolled in Head Start must be from low-income families. The other 10% may be children from families that exceed the low-income guidelines, but who meet other criteria. (45 C.F.R. § 1305.4.)

Head Start Programs are mostly partial-day programs that operate during the school year. Parent participation is required. Head Start is similar to the state preschool program. In some cases, Head Start and state preschool programs may be combined. (42 U.S.C. §§ 9831 et seq.; 45 C.F.R. §§ 1301-1306 and 1308.) The program is usually provided free of charge. (42 U.S.C. § 9840(b).)

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Child Development Centers

Child development centers are programs for children under two whose parents are students at a community college. There is no income eligibility requirement. Programs are paid for by student fees, parent fees and private funds.

Children of students attending school at a particular campus shall have first priority for attendance at a child development center at that campus. Highest priority shall be given to student families with the greatest income deficit, and lowest priority to student families with the greatest income.

For the purposes of assigning eligibility priority, applicant student families shall be grouped according to the amount of their income in one-hundred-dollar ($100) monthly increments. All student families within a particular income range shall be treated as if their incomes were the same, and priority for eligibility within each particular income range shall be assigned on the following basis: (1) single-parent student families, and (2) two-parent families, where both parents are students or where one parent is a student and the other is working. Student families who are recipients of public assistance shall be subject to the same assignment of priority as other student families whose incomes fall in the same income range. (Ed. Code, §§ 79120 et seq.)

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Cooperative Agencies Resources For Education Programs

Education Code section 79150 et seq. provides for the establishment of cooperative agencies resources for education programs in cooperation with the California Community Colleges. These provide additional funds for support services, including child care. Participants shall be at least 18 years of age, single heads-of-household, be receiving AFDC, and be desirous of completing their high school education or pursuing a job-relevant curriculum. (Ed. Code, § 72152.)

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California Child Care Initiative Project

This pilot program trains family child care providers and assists them to become licensed providers. The program is scheduled to end June 30, 2000. The training program is a joint initiative, with state, federal and local funds combined with private corporate funds. The program requires that there be $2 spent in private, federal or local funds for every $1 spent by the state. (Ed. Code, § 8215.)

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Indirect Subsidies for Child Care

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In addition to direct subsidies of child care for low-income families, both the state and the federal government indirectly subsidize a portion of the cost of child care in the United States.

State Child Care Tax Credit

The following information is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified accountant or tax attorney. You are advised to contact a tax professional for individual questions regarding possible tax credits for your child care costs.(13)

To encourage employers and landlords to establish child care programs for their employees or tenants, the state grants employers and landlords a tax credit against their net taxes for each taxable or each income year for the cost of establishing or constructing a child care facility or for contributing to child care information and referral services. The employer or landlord is allowed a tax credit of 30% of any of the following costs: 1) the cost incurred for the startup expenses, on or after September 23, 1988, of establishing a child care program or constructing a child care facility in California, to be used primarily by the children of the taxpayers' employees; 2) for each year after January 1, 1993, the cost incurred for the startup expenses of establishing a child care program or constructing a child care facility in California, to be used primarily by the children of employees of tenants leasing commercial or office space in a building owned by the taxpayer, or 3) the cost incurred by the taxpayer, on or after September 23, 1988, for contributions to California child care information and referral services. These tax credits shall not exceed $50,000 per year. (Rev. & Tax. Code, §§ 17052.17 and 23617.)

In lieu of claiming the tax credit, the taxpayer may take depreciation pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 17250. The credit can be carried over to the next tax year under certain circumstances. (Rev. & Tax. Code, §§ 17052.17(e) and (g) and 23617(e) and (g).)

No credit is allowed if the taxpayer is required by any local ordinance or regulation to provide a child care facility. (Rev. & Tax. Code, §§ 17052.17(i) and 23617(i).)

Employers may also receive yearly tax credits for each taxable or income year of 30% of the cost of the contributions to a qualified care plan made on behalf of any qualified dependent of a qualified employee, up to a maximum of $360 per child. This credit can also be carried over. (Rev. & Tax. Code, §§ 17052.18 and 23617.5.)

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Federal Child Care Tax Credit

Parents may be eligible for federal tax credit based on their expenses for child care. The federal child care tax credit presently allows parents to claim a percentage of their household and dependent care expenses as a credit, up to a certain dollar amount, on their federal tax returns. The tax credit is based on the income of the parents and the cost of the child care. Your tax preparer should be able to provide you with the percentage applicable in your situation. To qualify for tax credits, the child care must be necessary for the parents to maintain or obtain employment. The children must be dependent on the taxpayer and under 13 years of age, unless they are physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves. (26 U.S.C. § 21(b)(1).)

The federal credit is nonrefundable, so only those families with enough income to have a tax liability can take advantage of it. There are provisions in the law for advance payment of the tax credit. If eligible for the advance payment, less federal taxes would be taken out of a worker's paycheck, leaving more money with which to purchase child care. (26 U.S.C. § 21.)

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Private Child Care

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In-Home Child Care

In-home child care is care for children in their own home. It may involve paid or unpaid care by a relative, friend, housekeeper, nanny or au-pair. Such care is usually paid for by the parent. State and federal employment laws are generally applicable to paid providers of in-home child care.

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Family Day Care Homes

Family day care homes provide child care in a home setting for less than 24 hours per day while the parents or guardians are away. There are large family homes licensed to care for seven to 14 children, including children under the age of 10 who reside at the home, or small family homes licensed to care for eight or fewer children, also including children under the age of 10 who reside in the home. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.78.) State law requires family day care homes to be licensed through the Department of Social Services. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.803 et seq.) Providers caring for children from only one family (other than their own) are exempt from the licensing requirement. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 102358(a).) Child care is provided in family day care homes and paid for by the parents, or through alternative payment programs.

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Private Child Care Centers

Private child care centers are sometimes called nursery schools or preschools. They include church-related programs and parent co-ops. Private child care centers are operated with private funds, usually fees and/or donations collected from parents. Services are available to children from infancy through school age. Some private centers include private child care and elementary schools starting with kindergarten, so that children can attend school and have child care at the same location. Private programs are varied and may be full day, partial-day or a combination thereof, according to the needs of the parents and children. More than 7,000 of these private facilities are licensed by the Department of Social Services in California. The California Child Care and Resource Referral Network may provide you with a listing in your area. (See listing at end of chapter.)

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Work Site Child Care

Work site child care is care located at the parent's place of work. Employers may receive a tax credit if they establish or contribute to an employee child care facility. (See discussion of tax credits, supra.) Space may be rented and the program operated by parents, organizations or unions. The State of California, for example, has a number of public work site child care facilities available to state workers. (See discussion below.)

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Child Fare Facilities in State Buildings

When the state constructs or significantly alters buildings that can accommodate more than 700 state employees, the state shall provide on-site accommodations to meet the child care needs of its employees, if more than 30 children need child care and the employee-occupants follow certain steps.

The employee-occupants must be notified of the availability of space to be used for the child care facility no earlier than 180 days prior to the projected date of occupancy of the new building or space. They must file an application with the Secretary of State as a nonprofit corporation for the purpose of organizing a child care center, deposit two months' rent in a commercial or savings account, and enter into a contract with the Department of General Services within 30 days after full occupancy or completion of the alterations. If these steps are not taken, the space may be used for certain other purposes, but must be reconverted for use as a child care facility within 180 days of notice that the employee-occupants have subsequently taken the above actions.

Children of whom at least one parent or guardian is a state employee shall be given priority for admission to the center, over other children.

Child care facilities are not required for state buildings that provide 24-hour residential care for patients, inmates, or wards of the state, such as state hospitals or correctional facilities. (Gov. Code, § 4560.)

Government Code section 4561 provides that child care facilities for the employees of the California State ariality and Colleges and the ariality of California shall be incorporated into the campus master plans, and constructed subject to the provision of state funding appropriations by the Legislature. Determination of the need for, eligibility for use and utilization of these facilities shall be subject to the terms and conditions of the trustees and regents.

Government Code sections 4560 and 4561 are not applicable to any state-owned transportation facility. Space at these facilities may be leased by competitive bid, taking into account the affordability and quality of child care, to a child care operator licensed pursuant to section 1596.80 of the Health and Safety Code.

First priority for child care services provided by the center shall be given to children of state employees who work at the transportation facility, and second priority shall be given to children of users of the transportation facility.

No state funds shall be provided to any child care operator at a state-owned transportation facility unless all of the following conditions are met:

  • the child care facility is open to children without regard to any child's religious beliefs or any other factor related to religion,
  • no religious instruction is included in the child care program, and
  • the space in which the child care program is operated is not utilized in any manner to foster religion during the time it is used for child care. (Gov. Code, § 4563.)
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    Child Care Facilities Serving Federal Employees

    If any individual or entity that provides or proposes to provide child care services for federal employees applies to the officer or agency of the United States charged with the allotment of space in the federal buildings in the community or district in which such individual or entity provides or proposes to provide such services, such officer or agency may allot space in such building to such individual or entity if: 1) such space is available, 2) such officer or agency determines that such space will be used to provide child care services to a group of individuals, at least 50% of which are federal employees, and 3) such officer or agency determines that such individual or entity will give priority for available child care services in such space to federal employees. (40 U.S.C. § 490b(a).)

    If an officer or agency allots space to an individual or entity under 42 U.S.C. § 490b(a), such space may be provided to such individual or entity without charge for rent or services. (42 U.S.C. § 490b(b).)

    20 U.S.C. § 2564 authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to contract or otherwise establish, equip and operate day care center facilities to serve children who are members of households of employees of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare is granted similar authority by 20 U.S.C. § 3477(b) for employees of that department.

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    Safety Provisions for Child Care Facilities

    The safety of children at child care facilities has become an increasingly important issue. Upon presentation of identification, a parent has a right to enter and inspect a day care facility without prior notice during the normal operating hours of the facility, or at any time that the child is receiving services in the facility.

    Access can be denied to an adult whose behavior presents a risk to children present in the facility, and it can be denied to noncustodial parents or guardians if so requested by the responsible parent or legal guardian.

    No facility can discriminate or retaliate against a child or its parent or guardian for exercising the right of access or lodging a complaint with the Department of Social Services against a facility. If the facility denies a parent or legal guardian the right to enter and inspect a facility, it receives a warning from the department and for any subsequent violation, the facility can be fined $50 or have its license revoked. Written notice of these rights is to be posted in the facility. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.857.)

    Parents or guardians must be given a copy of a child abuse pamphlet by a family day care home when they become clients. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22 § 102419.)

    The state and federal legislatures have also passed laws to protect children from persons convicted of crimes against children by disclosing the whereabouts of registered sex offenders and requiring child care workers to have background checks before working with children.

    Before the Department of Social Services grants a license to or otherwise approves a family day care home, the Department must run a background check of the child abuse and neglect records of the child protective services agency of the county in which the applicant has resided for the two years preceding the application. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.877.) Prior to granting a license or otherwise approving any individual to care for children in a family day care home or day care center, the department must check the Child Abuse Registry pursuant to section 11170(b)(3) of the Penal Code. The department shall investigate any reports received from the Registry and any information received from the county child protective services agency.

    Substantiated child abuse is grounds for denying a child care facility license to an applicant. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 102391 and 1596.885(c).)

    Each licensed child day care center shall make accessible to the public a copy of any licensing report pertaining to the facility that documents a site inspection or substantiated complaint investigation. These reports need only be kept for three years. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.859.)

    A person seeking employment in a child care facility is required to provide fingerprints. Before issuing a license or special permit to any person to operate or manage a day care facility, the department is required to secure from an appropriate law enforcement agency a criminal record to determine whether the applicant, or other persons providing care to and supervision of children, or certain executives of the facility have ever been convicted of a crime, other than a minor traffic violation, or been arrested for any crime specified in Penal Code section 290 (that covers various sex and other violent offenses), or arrested for violating Penal Code sections 245 (assault with a deadly weapon or by force likely to produce great bodily injury), 273.5 (battery of a spouse, cohabitee or parent of his child), 273a(b) or 273a(2) prior to January 1, 1994 (child abuse), or for any crime for which the department cannot grant an exemption(14) if the person was convicted and the person has not been exonerated. If the person was convicted of a crime, other than a minor traffic violation, the Department of Justice must notify the department of that fact, and the application shall be denied, unless the department grants an exemption.

    If it is determined by the department that the person has been convicted of a sex offense against a minor, or has been convicted of an offense specified in Penal Code section 243.4 (sexual battery), 273a (child abuse), 273d (infliction of corporal punishment or injury on a child resulting in a traumatic condition) or 368(a) or (b) (infliction of physical pain or mental suffering on elder or dependent adult) or has been convicted of a felony, the department shall notify the licensee to act immediately to terminate the person's employment, remove the person from the child day care facility, or bar the person from entering the facility. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.871.)

    Every agency of the federal government and every facility operated by the federal government (or operated under contract with the federal government) that hires (or contracts for hire) individuals involved with the provision of child care services to children under the age of 18, must conduct a criminal history background check on every employee and applicant for employment. Results of the background check will be communicated to the employing agency. Criminal convictions for sex offenses, offenses involving a child victim, and drug felonies may be grounds for denying or terminating employment.

    Conviction of a crime other than a sex crime can be considered if it bears on an individual's fitness to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children. Employment applications for the positions described above shall require the applicant to state under penalty of perjury whether he/she has been arrested for or charged with a crime involving a child and to provide a description of the disposition of the arrest or charge. (42 U.S.C. § 13041.)

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    Trustline Registry

    To assist parents and child care employers, the Department of Justice has established a trustline registry. Any child care provider who possesses a valid California driver's license, a valid Department of Motor Vehicles identification card, a valid Alien Registration Card, or a valid numbered photo identification card issued by an agency of a state other than California, can initiate a background examination process, as set forth in Education Code section 8170 et seq. The Department of Justice will check the criminal background of the employee by checking the California Criminal History System (Pen. Code, § 11105 et seq.) and the California Child Abuse Central Index, and upon request, and the provision of an additional set of fingerprints, the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Upon completion of the searches, if no reported criminal conviction or substantiated child abuse information that would disqualify the provider from being licensed by the Department of Social Services as a child care provider is found, the Department of Justice shall enter that finding in the provider's record in the trustline registry and notify the provider of that action.

    If the search reveals a reported criminal conviction or substantiated child abuse information for which the provider could not receive an exemption, the department shall notify the provider that it is not, or is no longer, a registered trustline provider and its record shall be removed from the registry. If an exemption could have been granted, the Department of Justice will either register the provider or deny the registration. (Ed. Code, § 8172.)

    It is a misdemeanor for a person to falsely represent itself as a registered trustline child care provider or as having applied for such registration. (Ed. Code, § 8172.5.)

    You may call the California Child Care and Resource Referral Network for directions on obtaining toll-free information by phone from the trustline registry as to whether your child care provider is registered. (Ed. Code, § 8174.)

    Every child care provider who is compensated, in whole or in part, with funds provided through the Alternative Payment Program (Ed. Code, § 8220) or pursuant to the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Program (except a provider who is, by marriage, blood or court decree the grandparent, aunt of uncle of the child in care) shall be registered in the trustline registry in order to receive this compensation, to the extent permitted by federal law. The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network shall notify the applicable local child care resource and referral agencies, alternative payment programs and county welfare departments of the status of trustline applicants and registrants. (Ed. Code, § 8180.)

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    Child Abuse Reporting Requirements

    Any child care custodian, health practitioner, employee of a child protective agency, child visitation monitor, firefighter, animal control officer, humane society officer, or clergy member who, in his/her professional capacity, has knowledge of or observes a child whom he/she knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse must report that information by phone as soon as practical to a child protective agency and prepare and send a written report thereof within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident.

    Any commercial film and photographic print processor who has knowledge of or observes, within the scope of his/her professional capacity or employment, any film, photograph, videotape, negative or slide depicting a child under the age of 16 years engaged in an act of sexual conduct, shall report the suspected child abuse to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction as soon as practically possible by phone, and shall send a written report within 36 hours.

    County probation and welfare departments and law enforcement agencies also have reporting responsibilities.

    When a child protective agency receives either of the following, it shall, within 24 hours, notify the licensing office with jurisdiction over the facility: 1) a report of abuse alleged to have occurred in the licensed child care facility or 2) a report of the death of a child living at, enrolled in or regularly attending a licensed child care facility, unless the circumstances of the death are clearly unrelated to the child's care at the facility. (Pen. Code, § 11166 et seq.)(15)

    The Department of Justice maintains an index report on all child abuse reported pursuant to Penal Code section 11166, et seq. The information maintained in the Department of Justice's index report may be disclosed to child protective agencies, the district attorney, the Department of Social Services, or any county licensing agency responsible for licensing in-home care providers, child care providers or residential facilities. The investigating agency will inform the person filing the child abuse report of the final disposition of the investigation. (Pen. Code, § 11170.)

    Persons required to file a child abuse report pursuant to the reporting requirements of Penal Code section 11166 et seq., are immune from criminal or civil liability for filing the report, or for taking or disseminating photographs of the victim without parental consent, or for providing access to the victim. Any other person reporting a known or suspected instance of child abuse shall not incur civil or criminal liability unless it can be proven that a false report was made and the person knew that the report was false or the report was made with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the report.

    Persons sued for reporting child abuse, may file a claim with the State Board of Control for reasonable attorney's fees for defending the suit if the court has dismissed the action upon a demurrer or motion for summary judgment, or if they prevail in the action.

    A court may award attorney's fees to a commercial film and photographic print processor when a suit is brought against him/her because of a disclosure required by law and the court finds the suit to be frivolous.

    Any person who fails to report an instance of child abuse which he/she knows to exist, or reasonably should know to exist, as required by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term not to exceed six months, or by a fine of not more than $1000, or by both jail sentence and fine. (Pen. Code, § 11172.)

    There is also a federal law requiring certain covered professionals, while engaged in a professional capacity or activity on federal land or in a federally-operated facility, to report suspected incidents of child abuse to a designated federal agency. (42 U.S.C. § 13031 et seq.)

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    California Child Care Resource & Referral Network

    The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network is a state-funded organization that provides information about child care in every county in the state, including information about the trustline registry for child care providers. This organization provides parents with educational information and referral services for both public and private child care providers. The referral and education programs are available to anyone, regardless of financial need. (Ed. Code, §§ 8212-8215.) The address and phone number for this service is listed at the end of this section.

    The Network can also provide short-term respite child care to do the following: 1) provide services to families identified and referred by child protective agencies, 2) relieve the stress caused by child abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or the risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, 3) assist parents who, because of serious illness or injury, homelessness, or family crisis, including temporary absence from the home because of illness or injury, would be unable without assistance to provide the normal care and nurture expected of parents, and 4) provide temporary relief to parents from the care of children with exceptional needs.

    Pursuant to the delivery of short-term respite child care services, priority shall be given for the provision of services to families identified and referred by child protective agencies, to relieve the stress caused by child abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or the risks thereof. Priority shall be given to assist parents and to provide temporary relief to parents to the extent that resources are available. (Ed. Code, § 8212.3.)

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    Summary

    There are many options for parents seeking child care. You should assess your own needs and financial abilities in order to choose the child care option that best suits you and your family. A good starting point is to contact the Child Care Resource and Referral Network to find quality child care near you. The California Department of Education, Child Development Division, can answer your questions concerning state and federally-subsidized programs and direct you to the proper agencies.

    To find the nearest resource and referral agency, look in the telephone book or contact:

    California Child Care Resource and Referral Network
    809 Lincoln Way
    San Francisco, CA 94122
    (415) 661-1714

    Licensing Agency
    Central Operations Branch
    Department of Social Services
    Community Care Licensing Division
    744 P Street, Mail Stop 19-50
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: (916) 324-4031
    Fax: (916) 323-8352

    California School Age Families Education (Cal-SAFE) Program
    Nancy Christophel
    Learning Support & Partnership Div.
    California State Dept. of Education
    1430 N. St., Suite 6408
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: (916) 319-0541
    Telephone: (916) 319-0914 (Public Information)
    Fax: (916) 445-7367

    Child Care Administrator
    Child Development Division
    California State Dept. of Education
    1430 N. St., Suite 3410
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: (916) 322-6233
    Fax: (916) 322-4159

    Head Start Collaboration Liaison
    Michael Zito
    California Head Start State Collaboration Office
    California Department of Education
    Child Development Division
    1430 N. St., Suite 3410
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: (916) 323-9727
    Telephone: (916) 322-6233 ( Public Information)
    Fax: (916) 322-4157

    Child Care Food Program Administrator
    Phyllis Bramson-Paul
    Nutrition Services Division
    State Department of Education
    1430 N. Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: (916) 445-0850 (800) 952-5609
    Fax: (916) 445-4842

    Child Abuse Reporting Hotline

    Any state licensing office, any law enforcement office or any
    child protective office in any of the county social/health/welfare offices.

    Office of Child Support Enforcement
    Office of Child Support
    Department of Social Services
    744 P Street
    Sacramento, Ca 95814
    P. O. Box 944244-2450
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Telephone: (916) 654-1532

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    Footnotes

    1. The information in this section was provided by the California Department of Education, Child Development Division, and The California Child Care Portfolio, (February 12, 1997), issued by the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network. Back to link 1
    2. In August 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105, 8 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq., the “PRA”), that enacted a series of federal welfare and public assistance reforms. The federal reforms limit the amount of public assistance available and restrict eligibility (with minor exceptions) for assistance to U.S. citizens and qualified aliens. You are advised to speak with the California Department of Education for an update on eligibility requirements. Back to link 2
    3. At present, eligibility for participating in state-funded child care programs (except for State Preschool, Severely Handicapped and Federal-Based Migrant Families) is limited to families whose adjusted monthly income is at or below 84% of the state's median income, adjusted for family size at the time of initial enrollment and does not exceed 100% of median income, adjusted for family size. Eligibility is based upon the year of enrollment, as determined by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Ed. Code, §§ 8261 and 8263; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 18078.) Back to link 3
    4. According to 42 U.S.C. § 9858n(4), an eligible child must also come from a family whose family income does not exceed 85% of the state median income for a family of the same size, and must reside with a parent or parents who are working or attending a job training or educational program or must be receiving or must need to be receiving protective services. Back to link 4
    5. AFDC, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, has been replaced by TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, under the Welfare Reform Act. This chapter will continue to use the term AFDC, because the statutes and regulations have not yet been amended to reflect this change. Back to link 5
    6. All center-based child care programs, regardless of the source of the funding, are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including its provisions for barrier removal and program access. (42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.) Back to link 6
    7. Children of students have first priority for enrollment in such programs. (Ed. Code, § 66060(b).) Back to link 7
    8. A "migrant agricultural worker family" means a family that has earned at least 50% of its total gross income from employment in fishing, agriculture, or agriculturally-related work during the 12-month period immediately preceding the date of application for child care and development services. (Ed. Code, § 8231(a).) In addition to meeting the criteria for being an agricultural worker family pursuant to Education Code section 8231(a), Section 18191 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations provides that the family shall also meet the eligibility and need criteria specified in Education Code section 8263(a)(1) and (a)(2), as discussed, supra. Back to link 8
    9. See footnote 196, supra, for information on possible restrictions on the eligibility of legal and illegal immigrants. Back to link 9
    10. "Severely handicapped" means the child has a physical, mental or emotional handicap of such severity that he/she cannot be adequately or appropriately served in a regular child care and development program, as determined by the individualized Education Plan (IEP) required by section 18212 of title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5 § 18211.) Back to link 10
    11. If no eligible children are on the waiting list, the facility can accept up to 10% of its enrollment who do not meet the age or income requirements. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5 § 18133.) Back to link 11
    12. If eligible, relatives of a child can qualify and receive payments for caring for the child in the home of the relative. Back to link 12
    13. U.S. Congressional leaders and the President of the United States recently reached a balanced budget agreement, that will provide child tax credits to over 3 million families in California and will provide tax credits to California students. Back to link 13
    14. The department can grant an exemption if the person is of good character, based on the age, seriousness and frequency of the conviction or convictions. (Health & Saf. Code, § 1596.871(c)(4) and (f).) Back to link 14
    15. For additional information on child abuse, please refer to the chapter on Violent Crimes Against Women and Children. Back to link 15

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