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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 referred to as nursery schools or preschool programs) provide care for children in a group setting for full-time or part-time needs. They can serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. Centers vary in size, focus and philosophy.

Child Care Centers have the following advantages: 

  • This environment is designed specifically for children.
  • The state mandates the ratio of adults to children and requires that staff meet defined levels of child development coursework and training. 
  • A center must follow state licensing requirements, which provide guidelines for health and safety.
  • Centers are likely to have connections to a wider array of community resources.
  • Some centers are designed to assess and help children with special needs.
  • Staff emergencies do not affect the center’s hours.
  • Many centers provide a written account of the individual child’s activities.
  • Teamwork can promote a positive atmosphere and spirit of cooperation.

We have our own Child Care Center in West Hollywood.



Family Child Care Home refers to care provided by a person who has a small child care business in their home. Anyone who cares for more than one other family’s children (other than that of a relative) in their own home is a Family Child Care Home Provider and is required by law to obtain a license. Licensed Family Child Care Home can be small (6-8 children) or large (up to 14 children with an assistant present).

Family Child Care Home provides these benefits: 

  • This atmosphere is home-like.
  • Parents and children benefit from the sense of having an “extended family.”
  • There is continuity and the opportunity for bonding with the same primary child care provider.
  • May provide more flexibility in caring for children with minor illnesses.
  • May be able to accommodate the need for long 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 can be provided by a family, friend or neighbor who cares for your child in their home or yours, full or part-time. Providers available for this type of care are not required to be licensed since they only care for the children of a single family.

Licensed-Exempt Child Care has these benefits:

  • This setting may be convenient for the parent.
  • Your child may be in familiar surroundings.
  • With fewer children, there is less risk of illness than in other forms of care.
  • There is typically a lower child-to-provider ratio.

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



Before and After School Care Programs are available at many elementary schools and other sites, for parents who need to 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, which have the following benefits: 

  • Well-known area in the community.
  • May offer tutoring or educational activities.
  • Children may feel a sense of independence by being 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 as well as 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 completely child-proofed, so make sure 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 the 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 while 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 of?
  • Do you have any written policies or procedures, such as holiday, illness, vacation or instances of late pick up or drop off?