What is CCRC?
CCSA helps families with child care needs through a service called Child Care Referral Central (CCRC). Child Care Referral Specialists help take the guesswork out of choosing care by providing referrals to local programs, information on the NC Star Rated licensing system and information on where to get help paying for child care. We also offer Choosing Child Care Seminars in the community and provide consumer education through our Family Focus eNewsletter and Fridays for Families video series on Facebook.
Child Care Referral Central is a regional collaborative between CCSA and the Alamance, Caswell, Person, and Franklin-Granville-Vance Partnerships for Children. Child Care Referral Central makes finding child care in the nine-county area of Alamance, Caswell, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Orange, Person, Vance, and Wake counties easy and central for families.
What should I expect after I talk with the referral specialist?
A CCRC Referral Specialist will give you the tools to be confident through the child care search process. They will help you take the process one step at a time and share with you the information you’ll need to make the right child care choice.
Information will include:
- Types of child care options. You will receive a detailed printout, listing programs that are matched by criteria like quality ratings, type of care, location, tuition rates, vacancies, ability to meet a special need and more.
- North Carolina child care regulations
- Quality care indicators (checklists to take with you when you visit child care facilities & tips for checking references)
- Cost of care & financial assistance
- Developmentally appropriate classroom practices & positive teacher-child interactions
- Details of visits by the state licensing agency
Are child care programs doing anything different in response to COVID-19?
The DCDEE and DHHS has provided child care programs and family child care homes with a toolkit to help them make informed decisions about COVID-19 and minimize the risk of exposure to both the staff and children in their care. In order for child care programs to remain open, they must attest to meeting the interim guidance for child care settings found in this ChildCareStrongNC Public Health Toolkit.
Why is quality important in early learning settings like child care or preschool?
The first eight years of life are some of the most important formative years. Brain Science research confirms that early experiences have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills and social-emotional abilities that stay with them throughout life.
Participating in a high-quality child care program can help your child
- build their Confidence. They get to practice new skills in a safe and nurturing environment.
- build Relationships and develop secure attachments. These relationships help children to better understand themselves in relation to others, as well as practice social skills like conflict resolution, taking turns and how to share. They have the opportunity to interact with children of a wide range of ages and personalities.
- feel that their contributions to the community are valued and encouraged. Early care and education settings often provide children the first opportunity outside of the home to have a voice and contribute their ideas.
- learn life skills such as problem-solving. Teachers can help children develop their inner strengths and critical thinking skills, which helps to express feelings, resolve conflicts, and take responsibility for their actions.
- develop language and communication skills. In quality child care programs, children are more likely to be exposed to large amounts of language and vocabulary through reading, singing and talking.
- increase emotional regulation. Consistent and nurturing interactions with a teacher can help children manage and experience emotions, feelings and behaviors, which are foundational to success in learning.
- develop empathy to understand how others feel in a particular situation and respond with care. Pretend play, reading stories about feelings, caring for animals or plants, having role models and compassionate teachers are all ways that children learn about empathy in child care settings.
- be Resilient. Quality programs provide stable, supportive environments and meaningful ways to stay connected that are keys to children being able to bounce back from a setback or pick themselves up from failure. Children have the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and be vulnerable while feeling safe to try new things.
What does a quality child care program setting look like?
North Carolina has licensing standards that serve as a baseline for health and safety as well as provide guidance regarding more comprehensive needs of young children. One of the keys to a high-quality program is what happens inside the classroom. Teachers engage and tailor learning opportunities for children based on their needs through responsive language, classroom activities and language-rich environments. Positive guidance is used to foster independence, prevent & redirect challenging behaviors.
During your observations at child care settings you should see teachers who are responsive to the needs of each child, supportive and engaging experiences for children, positive interactions between providers and children, learning opportunities that are developmentally appropriate, interactive and plentiful, and health, safety and welfare of children are priorities.
What are some questions I should ask before and during my child care search?
Begin by asking yourself a few questions.
Think about your child’s needs
- What is the temperament of my child?
- What kind of environment will help my child thrive?
- If you have a school-age child, what are her/his interests?
- Does my child have any special needs that should be considered?
Now, focus on your family’s needs
- How much care do I need? What days and hours?
- Does location of care play a key role in our decision? Do I want a child care facility close to my home or close to my work?
- What are our family’s budget considerations for care? Use this budgeting tool to examine how child care will impact your monthly budget.
For more information about child care in your county, check out these county-specific child care fact sheets.
- What types of financial resources may be available to help our family afford child care?
- Do the program’s philosophies reflect our family values?
- How will the child care provider involve me in the daily events of my child’s life?
- Do the hourly, holiday and vacation schedules meet my family’s needs?
Take your child with you when you visit. Visiting in the afternoon is best for talking to the director; visiting in the morning is best for observing teacher-child interactions.
- Observe all areas where the children are cared for, including outdoor areas.
- Listen to how the teachers interact with the children.
- Ask your child if s/he liked visiting and does s/he think it would be fun to go there again.
Are child care programs rated and what does that mean?
Take time to look at the stars
In N.C., the Division of Child Development and Early Education is responsible for inspecting programs to make sure licensing standards are met. A Division representative makes annual unannounced visits to each program to monitor for compliance of applicable child care requirements. Additional visits are made to investigate complains as well as provide technical assistance at times.
Licensed centers and homes in North Carolina should have their license prominently displayed. The number of stars on this license tells you a lot about the overall quality of a program.
- A one-star license indicates that a family child care home or center meets minimal health and safety standards and that the providers have received criminal background checks and have CPR and First Aid training. Family child care homes and Child care centers are monitored annually by the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE). Child care centers are also monitored by local fire, building and sanitation inspectors as well as by the DCDEE. Religious-affiliated programs with a letter of compliance (GS-110) meet the basic health and safety standards of the one-star license, but do not have to meet the requirements for staff qualifications and curriculum and may choose to use corporal punishment.
- In addition to meeting the minimal requirements of a one-star rating, child care homes and centers may apply for a rating of two to five stars by voluntarily meeting higher standards for better-quality care. To achieve a higher rating, the program earns points based on staff education and program standards, and can meet additional standards to earn one “quality point“. More points equal more stars and a greater potential for higher-quality early care and eduation.
Sample of Star-Rated License
- Shows the number of stars earned (shaded) out of the number of stars possible (blank).
- Shows how many points the program earned in each of the two components.
- Shows the name and physical location of the program.
- Shows basic licensing information such as number of children, ages allowed and any restrictions.
Do some child care programs have no rating?
In North Carolina, license-exempt care is permissible under certain circumstances, such as caring for a child that is a relative, caring for up to two children not related to the caregiver, programs providing care for less than four hours a day or less than four consecutive months in a year.
When an individual or program provides license-exempt care, it does not mean that the care they provide is inadequate or illegal. But, it does mean that families benefit from conducting a little more research before choosing these providers. To better understand how you should prepare for choosing an exempt program, talk with one of our Child Care Referral Specialists at 1-855-327-5933.
How are child care programs assessed for a higher star rating?
The NC Division of Child Development and Early Education issues Star Rated Licenses to child care centers and family child care homes who meet all minimum child care requirements as well as those choosing to meet higher standards. Facilities are evaluated on two components: Staff Education and Program Standards and can earn stars based on the results of points earned in each component.
To maintain higher star ratings a program typically has lower ratios, professional and stable teacher staffing, effective leadership, an age-appropriate curriculum, a high compliance history and a family engagement plan.
To gain points in the Programs portion of the Rated License, a program participates in an assessment process where standardized tools are used to measure process quality at the classroom level.
What can I do at home to help my child’s development?
Did you know that you can help build a child’s brain – starting even before babies can talk? Simple “serve and return” interactions between adults and young children help make strong connections in developing brains. And, it’s easy and fun to do! This how-to video by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University breaks down serve and return into 5 simple steps and features adults and young children doing each step together.
Use the 3Ts Digital Tool for Parents, which is available in both English and Spanish. This tool is designed to help you understand the critical role you play in your child’s brain development and, more importantly, show you ways to turn that knowledge into action. Download here.
Who should clients contact regarding complaints about CCRC staff or referrals?
If the complaint is about a referral counselor, or information provided by Child Care Referral Central, the client should ask to speak to the counselor’s supervisor. If the complaint is about the supervisor or the client feels that the supervisor’s response was inadequate, the client should call CCSA’s Director of Family Support at 919-403-6950.
How should clients express concern about CCSA’s referral policies?
Clients concerned with any of Child Care Referral Central‘s referral policies should express those concerns in writing to the vice president of CCSA’s Child Care Resource & Referral Division. A written response addressing the concern will be sent to the client within ten business days.
How is client privacy handled?
CCSA’s Family Support Department values the trust our families and communities place in us to support them in meeting their child care needs. The welfare of each of the parents and children we serve is equally important to us. We want to reassure you that citizenship is not used as criteria for any of CCSA’s services, and we always endeavor to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of all clients who receive service from us.
El departamento de apoyo familiar de CCSA valora la confianza que las familias y la comunidad ponen en nosotros para apoyarlos en sus necesidades de cuidado infantil. El bienestar de cada uno de los padres y niños a los que servimos son de suma importancia para nosotros. Queremos reasegurarles que su estado migratorio no es considerado como criterio para ninguno de los servicios de CCSA y que nosotros siempre nos esforzamos para asegurar la privacidad y protección de la información de todas las familias y personas que usen nuestros servicios.