What to Ask?
Explore Different Types of Child Care
Finding high-quality child care is one of the most important decisions you will make for your child and your family. Studies show that children who get high-quality child care do better in school and, as adults, earn more. There are many different kinds of child care available.
Licensed Child Care
Child care providers licensed by the state receive early learning training, important safety instruction, first aid training and they must pass criminal background checks. Their child care environments must also pass state inspection. Licensed child care can be provided in a family home setting or in a child care center.
Family, Friends, and Neighbors
Family, friends and neighbor (FFN) caregivers include grandparents, aunts and uncles, elders, older siblings, friends, neighbors and others who help families by providing child care. FFN caregivers are typically unlicensed and not regulated by the state.
During your search, call and visit several child care programs and get answers to important questions like these:
- How many children does each adult supervise?
- What is the typical daily schedule?
- How does the child care provider set limits and discipline?
- How will the provider help prepare my child for kindergarten?
- What are meals like?
- How will the provider honor our family’s culture?
Who to Call?
Child Care Aware of Washington helps you find high-quality, licensed child care near you. Use our online search tool or call our Family Center, Mon.-Fri. 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Our child care experts are ready to help. We serve families in over 250 languages at no cost to families.
What about families experiencing homelessness?
We help families with young children who are experiencing homelessness find child care at no cost to them for up to four months. Child care offers young children experiencing homelessness a safe place to play and learn, healthy food and a chance to make friends. Homelessness is not neglect and Child Protective Services (CPS) will not take away your child because you are homeless. Click here to learn more about this program.
Need Help to Pay?
Many families need help paying for child care. We’ve listed some of the most common resources below.
We help you find the right program
If you are unsure which program is for you, we offer free help through The Family Center.
What about families experiencing homelessness?
We help families who are experiencing homelessness find child care for up to four months at no cost to them. Child care offers young children experiencing homelessness a safe place to play and learn, healthy food and a chance to make friends. Homelessness is not neglect and Child Protective Services (CPS) will not take away your child because you are homeless. Click here to learn more about this program.
State and federal child care subsidies
Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Child Care Subsidy Programs (Learn More)
- Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) helps eligible families pay for child care while they work, look for work or go to school. Families qualify for help based on their income.
- Seasonal Child Care helps seasonally employed agricultural families.
Military child care assistance programs are available through Child Care Aware of America (Learn More)
ECEAP (E-Cap) and Head Start (Learn More)
- ECEAP offers free pre-school programs for eligible 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income families or children with special needs or situations.
- Head Start helps children from birth to age 5 with early child care and pre-school, as well as offering pre-natal care to pregnant women. Learn More
Local programs for:
Child Care Aware of Washington provides local services through six regional partners located across the state. These partners often offer resources beyond child care to help families in their regions.
CCA of Eastern WA
CCA of Central WA
CCA of Northwest WA
CCA of King & Pierce Counties
Child Care Resources - King County
Child Care Resources - Pierce County
CCA of Southwest WA
Educational Service District 112
CCA of Olympic Peninsula
Child Care Action Council
Other Community Resources
211 (Statewide database of community resources)
Apple Health (Free or low cost medical insurance program for children)
Washington Connection (Local resources in every county statewide)
Resources for Talking With Children About Racism
Click here for a list of resources for talking with children about racism.
Child Development Resources
Parent Help 123 – information on local resources, pregnancy, child development and programs for families
Help Me Grow Washington– free child development information and resources
Kindergarten Readiness – learn if your child is ready to start kindergarten
Vroom – ideas for turning everyday moments into brain-building opportunities for your infant, toddler or preschooler
Institute of Learning and Brain Science– online learning modules from the University of Washington about child development
Zero to Three – a national, nonprofit organization that provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development
Learn the Signs, Act Early– an online resource for learning childhood developmental milestones from 0 – 5 years.
A Parent’s Guide to Healthy Sleep – an online resource for everything related to a good night’s sleep
Our Family Center Newsletters– articles and information about child development
Early numeracy & math resources in English and Spanish – materials from Stanford University’s Development & Research Early Math Education Center
Child Care Aware of Washington seeks to help every child receive high-quality child care.