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Whether you work, attend school or have a temporary emergency that takes you out of the home, your need for child care is shared by thousands of other parents. Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions families make, but all too often they must rely on word-of-mouth. Pathways LA’s Resource and Referral staff can help take the guesswork out of choosing care by providing free referrals to licensed child care providers as well as information regarding the different types of child care available to families. 

Here are 4 easy ways to get started:

  1. Click here for instant online referrals.
  2. Submit your request online and we’ll get back to you within one business day.
  3. Visit our office at 3325 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1100, Los Angeles, CA 90010. We’re open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, with extended hours on Wednesdays until 7pm. (Please note, our offices are currently closed due to COVID-19, we currently have virtual office hours only)
  4. Call our Resource & Referral team at (213) 427-2710.

Pathways LA offers a variety of child care options to provide parents with choices that work best for them. For guidance on what to look for when choosing a provider, here are descriptions of the different types of child care available. Once you’ve determined the ideal option for your family, be sure to read our tips for what to look for when visiting a site below.  



Child Care Centers, also known as nursery schools or preschool programs, are places where children can be cared for in a group setting, either full-time or part-time. These centers can cater to infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children, and they come in different sizes with different focuses and approaches or beliefs.

Child Care Centers have the following advantages: 

  • This environment is designed specifically for children.
  • The state sets rules on how many adults must be present for a certain number of children and also requires that the staff have specific training in child development. 
  • A center must follow state licensing requirements, which provide guidelines for health and safety.
  • Centers will likely have links to various community services and support.
  • Some centers are designed to assess and help children with special needs.
  • Staff emergencies do not affect the center’s hours.
  • Many centers provide written reports or records of what each child does during their time at the center.
  • Working together can create a positive environment and a sense of cooperation.

We have our own Child Care Center in West Hollywood.


A Family Child Care Home is when someone runs a small child care business in their home. If they care for children from more than one family (excluding relatives), they must get a license as a Family Child Care Home Provider, as required by law. There are different permits, such as small ones for 6-8 children or larger ones for up to 14 children with an assistant.

Family Child Care Home provides these benefits: 

  • This atmosphere is home-like.
  • Parents and children benefit from having an “extended family.
  • Children can form strong bonds and have consistent care with the same primary childcare provider over time.
  • It may be easier to take care of children with minor illnesses as they may provide more flexibility in accommodating their needs.
  • May be able to accommodate the need for lengthy or unusual hours.
  • Licensing requirements ensure that every adult in the home has a TB clearance and has no criminal record or accusations of child abuse.

For referrals to licensed Family Child Care Home, search our Provider Database or contact a Pathways LA Referral Specialist.


License Exempt Child Care is when a family member, friend, or neighbor takes care of your child in their home or yours, full-time or part-time. These providers do not need a license because they only care for the children of one family at a time.

Licensed-Exempt Child Care has these benefits:

  • This type of childcare can be convenient for parents.
  • Your child will be in a familiar environment, which can be comforting.
  • Since there are fewer children, the risk of illness may be lower compared to other types of care.
  • There are usually fewer children to care for each caregiver, which means more attention for each child.

For License-Exempt Child Care, speak with friends and family about being your child care provider.


Before and After School Care Programs are available at many elementary schools and other sites for parents who must drop off their school-age children before school begins or leave them at school until the end of the work day.

Before and After School Care Programs provide these advantages: 

  • Usually on school grounds.
  • Easy transition for the child.
  • Children may be offered tutoring or educational support.
  • Kids get to play with friends.
  • Cost is minimal.

For referrals to Before and After School Care Programs, contact a Pathways LA Referral Specialist.

Alternatively, there are Parks and Recreational Programs that have the following benefits: 

  • Well-known area in the community.
  • May offer tutoring or educational activities.
  • Children may feel a sense of independence in a less structured environment.
  • Access to sports equipment.
  • Fun activities for the children.
  • Minimal cost.

For referrals to Parks and Recreation Programs, contact a Pathways LA Referral Specialist.


Pay attention to the staff’s interactions with the children. Are they warm and welcoming? Do they seem to enjoy being with the children? All adults in the room should behave respectfully to the children and each other. Children should be supervised at all times (even when they’re napping).

Look for signs of best practices when it comes to health and safety. The environment should be child-proofed, so ensure there are smoke detectors, radiator covers, electrical safety caps, and no dangerous items left out. 

Some questions to consider asking providers:

  • What types of training and experience do you have, and does that include working with children with special needs?
  • Is your program licensed or accredited?
  • What is the daily routine?
  • How do you include children with special needs in their daily activities and routines?
  • Are there options for indoor and outdoor play? 
  • Are there opportunities for parents to be involved?
  • Do you have a list of references?
  • What is the adult-to-child ratio?
  • What happens if my child becomes ill or needs medication in your care?
  • What is your disaster emergency plan?
  • What are the fees, when are they due, and are there any additional fees I should know?
  • Do you have any written policies or procedures, such as holidays, illnesses, vacations, or late pick-up or drop-off situations?