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Child Care Resource Centers: What They Can Do for Your Family

Alexa Gahan
May 24, 2018

Child Care Resource and Referral Centers can help your family find child care quickly and efficiently.

Sometimes to find good child care, you just need to know where to look. Word-of-mouth and the Internet are certainly good places to start your search, but Child Care Resource and Referral Centers (CCR&Rs) can help point you in the right direction more quickly and accurately. Here's the low-down on what these centers do, where to find them in your area, and how to access their programs.

What Are Child Care Resource Centers?

According to Research Connections -- an organization supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- CCR&Rs are local and statewide services that include three primary components:

  1. Guidance and referrals for parents seeking child care

  2. Collection of information about the local supply of child care

  3. Provider training and support

"CCR&Rs collect information on what types of day care, financial, parenting, health, and educational resources are available to families in cities all across America," said Diane Levin, a professor of Early Childhood Education at Wheelock College in Boston.

Hundreds of agencies and partners work together to ensure parents have access to quality, affordable child care and that young children are adequately prepared for kindergarten. CCR&Rs support children by holding workshops for parents and offering training programs for teachers to help them become better educators and child care providers, according to Levin.

Where Can I Find a Local CCR&R?

A simple Internet search should do it, according to Rosemary Kendall, a senior researcher for the Early Learning Challenge Program at AEM (Applied Engineering Management) Corporation. Additionally, the government-sponsored program Child Care Aware of America provides an online resource for helping parents get in touch with a local CCR&R.

"Child Care Aware has authored several helpful articles offering advice on how to choose the best child care providers for your family," Kendall said.

She added that visiting programs to get a personal feel for them is the "optimal way to determine which situation is the best fit for you and your child."

Scroll to the bottom of this article to find a CCR&R near you.

Who Runs CCR&Rs?

Child care resource centers are run by government-sponsored agencies that "liaison with local community service providers to create a variety of financial, educational and child care resources and programs for children and families,” Levin said.

Rules and eligibility requirements vary state to state, so she suggested contacting local state-run agencies for information. Be sure to ask about applying for services, what fees could be involved, and details on the program’s qualifications and limitations.

What Services Do CCR&Rs Provide?

Child Care Resource Centers typically recommend low-cost child care centers to families and give them information about federal financial aid or grants.

"In addition to the parenting workshops that some local agencies put together for families, there are also resources, such as budgeting tips and advice or classes on how to improve job skills," Levin said.

She added that some federal and state programs provide training for teachers who want to provide day care and extracurricular programs for older kids who may only need someone to watch them for a few hours after the school day is over.

Other services child care resource centers can help you gain access to include the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which are early education, nutrition, and day care services specifically designed for low-income families.

Levin said she believes Head Start to be one of the best day care options available.

"Head Start programs focus on play-based early childhood education, which really serves young children in the most beneficial way," she said.

What If I Can’t Get to a CCR&R?

While there are many CCR&Rs out there, it is possible that you may not have easy access to one. Fortunately, there are still a couple other options out there to help you find child care for your family if you can’t get to a CCR&R.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) lists child care centers that are located in GSA-managed spaces. If you reside within a GSA-managed space, you can visit the site for a list of child care centers in your region. They also provide helpful resources, such as information on tuition assistance, that you may find at a CCR&R.

If neither a CCR&R or the GSA are viable options for you, Care.com can help steer you in the right direction. Care.com gives you the ability to find a caregiver and reach out to them directly to see if they are a good potential fit for your family. If you would prefer to find a child care center, Care.com’s Child Care Directory can pull a list of child care centers, day care centers, and preschools near you.

State-By-State CCR&R Directory

Click on your state below to find resources and other helpful information provided by Child Care Aware.

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