Selecting a qualified childcare provider is an important decision in your child’s life. An enriching and nurturing childcare environment will set the stage for the healthy growth and development of your child. SNCS is here to support you through your childcare planning process. We provide free childcare resource and referral services to all families throughout Sierra and Nevada counties, including consultation on local early education and childcare programs.
To learn more about childcare provider options, please review Types of Providers page.
If you need financial assistance, look for providers that have entries in the Financial Assistance section, these programs are for income eligible families.
When parents begin the search for child care, they are often confused and unsure of what options are available to them. Listed below are several different options, including both licensed and license-exempt care. Each of these types of care has distinct features, differences, and licensing requirements, along with conditions on size and adult-to-child ratios. Knowing what these features and differences are can assist you in choosing the option that best fits your needs, as well as your child’s.
Licensed child care can occur in either a Family Child Care Home or in a Child Care Center.
State preschool programs are part-day comprehensive developmental programs for 3 to 5 year old children from low-income families. The programs emphasize parent education and encourage parent involvement.
The Budget Act of 1997 allowed state preschool program contractors the opportunity to extend their half-day programs to full-day programs with certain restrictions. Some current state preschool providers chose this wrap-around of their existing half-day programs to provide families with the extended services parents needed to maintain employment, meet work participation requirements, or participate in education or job training. Agencies providing full-day services continue to operate in a half-day mode as a state preschool program, but must follow general child care rules and regulations for the remainder of the program day.
Head Start is a US Department of Health and Human Services program designed to support low-income families through child care centers and schools in their local community, by providing services for the comprehensive development and promotion of school readiness to young children ages 3 to 5 years old. Head Start services include early learning, health, nutrition, and family well-being.
Early Head Start programs support low income families with pregnant women, infants, and children up to age 3 years old, by providing comprehensive services and high-quality early learning environments in child care centers and schools.
Early Head Start Child Care Partnership programs support low income families with infants and toddlers by providing comprehensive services and high-quality early learning environments in family child care homes and child care centers. EHS_CCP Brochure
There are also various types of License Exempt Care. License Exempt Care:
For more information on the definition of license exempt care, click on this Child Care Law Center link.
Child Care Licensing - Resources for Parents
Early Child Care Philosophies
Comprehensive Parent's Guide to Choosing Child Care
NAEYC-What to look for in a child care program
Finding Child Care for a Child with Special Need
Is This the Right Place for My Child (NACCRRA Checklist)
First 5 Nevada County
Child Care Advocate Program (CCAP)
Laws and Regulations
National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care
Public Complaint Form
Nevada County Superintendent of Schools CPR and First Aid
Trustline- Check Provider's Background
SNCS is proud to offer financial assistance programs to Sierra and Nevada County residents. These programs are designed to help income-eligible families cover the expenses associated with childcare services. Funding is provided through a combination of federal, state and local agencies. When funding allows, SNCS will open enrollment to new families based on our Childcare Eligibility List (CEL).
SNCS administers several programs to help eligible families pay for child care services while they work, look for work, attend school or recover from incapacity. SNCS child care payment assistance programs provide full or partial payment for child care services for enrolled families depending on eligibility. Exact reimbursement amounts are limited to the Regional Market Rate Ceilings (RMR/RMC) as determined by CDE.
In addition to SNCS subsidy programs, there are preschool and after-school child care programs funded directly by the State of California. Head Start is a Federally funded program offering educational, nutritional, health, social and other services for income eligible families. Although these programs are not part of SNCS, they will still be included when you request referrals for child care providers.
|CalWORKS Stage 1||Child Care Referral must be received from CalWORKS||Nevada and Sierra Counties and California Department of Social Services (CDSS)|
|CalWORKS Stages 2 & 3||Child Care Referral must be received from CalWORKS||California Department of Education (CDE), Federal, Early Education & Support Division (EESD)|
|Alternative Payment Program (CAPP)||Families may choose from child care options such as Family Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers, TrustLine child care providers, or Relative Care child care providers or other license-exempt providers|
|Family Child Care Home (FCCHEN) “Network”||Families must select a participating Network provider. Support, training, and education are available to both parents and providers in the program|
All families completing enrollment at our Grass Valley office are required to attend an on-site group orientation. Similar orientation must be repeated annually upon recertification. Families in Truckee and Loyalton can schedule individual orientations by contacting their Family Support Specialist. The orientation presentation can also be reviewed at any time by following the link below.
From an explanation of Family Fees to a detailed breakdown of our reimbursement procedures, our Parent Guide contains in-depth information covering the childcare programs that SNCS has to offer.
Parent Guide - English
Guia Para Padres - Spanish
Are the providers on your database all licensed?
Are all licensed programs the same?
What is child care accreditation?
How do I find out the licensing history of a program?
Will child care make your child more likely to get sick?
How many children can a provider care for at one time?
Whom can I contact about child care if I move to another county?
What can I do if I don’t agree with a decision made by SNCS?
How do I file a child care provider complaint?
What is subsidized child care?
How do I apply for subsidized child care assistance?
Who accepts subsidy payments?
When you call us for referrals, we will provide the most current and up-to-date information on licensed child care providers in our community. The majority of child care centers and all family child care homes are licensed by the California Department of Social Services (DSS) Community Care Licensing division. License-Exempt programs are exempt from licensing regulations. Some examples of License-Exempt programs include:
The Child Care Licensing Program of California’s Community Care Licensing Division licenses and monitors both Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes in an effort to ensure that programs offer a safe and healthy environment for children. All licensed programs are required to meet specific criteria and adhere to various regulations. These criteria and regulations pertain to the facility and the provider, not the educational program. Specific programs vary on their philosophy of early childhood education, style of curriculum, types and amount of educational materials, and structure of the learning environment.
There are also specific and different licensing requirements for child care center programs and family child care homes. The differences range from educational requirements to staffing ratios related to the available physical space per child.
Because the child care needs of each family vary, it is important to speak with and visit several programs before making a decision.
Accredited programs undergo a rigorous process measuring the program against national standards on childhood education, health and safety. For most programs, it is a voluntary process. The Accreditation Status is the level of quality whereby the service provider demonstrates the capacity, commitment and competence to support high-quality learning and ongoing program improvement.
For more information about accreditation associations and their website addresses go to CDE Accreditation
If you know the exact name of your Licensed Provider, you can look them up on the California Community Care Licensing website and view their citations, inspections and complaints. If you are not sure of the exact name on the license call SNCS at (530) 272-8866. The law requires that all licensees post and provide copies of any information about the facility's compliance with licensing regulations to all parents of children in care.
Infectious diseases among children in out-of-home child care settings have drawn considerable attention from researchers and the media.
Research has shown that:
The good news:
Source: Aronson S, Shope T. Improving the Health and Safety of Children in Non-parental Early Education and Child Care. Pediatrics in Review. 2005;26:86-95 Retrieved from the American Academy of Pediatrics on 01/15/09.
All licensed Family Child Care Home providers and Center-Based programs are regulated by California state licensing laws. Specific adult-to-child ratios and capacity limits depend on the type of program. Small family child care homes can care for no more than 8 children and large family child care homes can care for no more than 14 children at any one time. Small family child care homes require only the owner/provider be present while large family child care homes require the addition of an assistant. Center-based program capacity limits and adult-child ratios vary by age group and program type. For more information on center capacities and ratios, visit California’s Community Care Licensing website.
Child Care Resource & Referral (R&R) agencies are located throughout the State of California, as well as the country. For R&R that serves your county in California go to Resource & Referral County Listing, click on your county to get the contact information.
Sierra Nevada Children’s Services (SNCS) must comply with State and Federal laws and regulations when administering its programs. A complaint is an accusation that in some fashion SNCS has not acted in compliance with State and/or Federal laws and regulations.
To file a formal complaint with Community Care Licensing (CCL) call: 1-844-LET-US-NO (538-8766)
The Child Care Subsidy Program helps income eligible families pay for all or a portion of their child care fees. This program is made possible by Federal and State funding and administered by Sierra Nevada Children's Services in Nevada and Sierra Counties.
Families must fill out and submit the Child Care Eligibility Application (CEL), available through the Parent's Getting Started page. Families that have been on cash aid in the last two years, meet the income guidelines and have a need for child care can request a referral from their eligibility worker at CalWORKS and bypass the CEL application. The next step is to choose the child care provider, request child care referrals from the Parent's Choosing a Provider page.
Most child care providers are accustomed to and accept reimbursement from the state. Please call the SNCS office if you are looking for child care provider referrals or would like to know if your current provider accepts subsidized child care reimbursements.