One of the most important decisions your family will ever make is choosing child care.  Finding the right program takes time, so start early.

Finding Quality Child Care

Check out the following resources to help you find child care in our communities and apply for financial assistance.

211Info Child Care provides free, customized referrals to child care providers and strategies for finding quality child care in Oregon.

To speak with a Parent Educator about child care resources:

  • call 211 or 1-866-698-6155
  • text the keyword “children” or “ninos” to 898211 (TXT211)
  • email

211 representatives are available:

  • Monday – Friday, 7:00am – 11:00pm
  • Saturday – Sunday, 8:00am – 8:00pm

Find Child Care Oregon (FCCO) helps families locate child care through referrals and provides resources to make informed decisions about child care needs.  The FCCO database offers both detailed and summarized information for child care referrals in Oregon for family members, providers, and for early learning partners. 

Search for Child Care Online

Some parents qualify to receive financial assistance to help pay for child care. 

Here are a few programs that may assist you:

  • Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) helps working families pay for child care, including registration fees.  ERDC is a subsidy program.  This means families may pay part of the child care cost, called a copay.  Learn more about child care assistance through the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS). 
  • Oregon Student Child Care Grant helps eligible student families receive financial help to pay for child care costs while they attend college.

Choosing Quality Child Care

After you find child care, check out the following resources to help you in choosing the best fit child care provider.

It is your responsibility to evaluate the quality of child care services.  Use this guide to help you assess potential providers.


Trust your first impression.  Does the home or center look safe?  Do the adults seem to enjoy being with children?  Are there plenty of toys?  Visit more than once and stay as long as you like.  Even after you start using child care, visit often.


What does the child care setting sound like?  Do voices sound cheerful and patient?  If it's too quiet, there may not be enough activity.  Too much noise may mean a lack of control.


Count the number of children and staff in each group.  A small number of children per adult is especially important when caring for groups of young children and babies.


Ask about the knowledge and experience of the people who will be caring for your child.  Quality caregivers are happy to have you ask these questions and are always learning more about teaching and caring for children.

Be Informed

Find out about the efforts in your community to improve quality care and education.  Is your caregiver involved in these activities? How can you help?

The Child Care Safety Portal is a resource for parents and families to check on the safety and quality of licensed child care programs in Oregon. The Portal lets you search for a child care provider and view their licensing history over a period of time.

Click Here to Open the Portal

Use this checklist as a guide, not a guarantee.  The checklist gives quality indicators for Family Child Care Programs and Child Care Centers.

Parent Quality Checklist PDF

Types of Child Care

Learn about the different types of child care in Oregon.  This guide will help parents understand advantages and disadvantages of the different types of child care in Oregon.

A child care provider does not have to be licensed if they...

  • Care for children on an occasional basis
  • Care for 3 or fewer children or children from only one family at a time, not including their own children
  • Are a primarily educational program for children three years old and older, but not attending kindergarten, for four or fewer hours a day
  • Provide care in the child’s own home
  • Are related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption

Some Advantages

  • May be friend or family member who knows your child
  • May be less expensive
  • May be more flexible
  • Home-like environment
  • Smaller group size

Some Disadvantages

  • Exempt from licensing
  • May not have had or passed a background check
  • Not monitored
  • No training required
  • May not be as reliable

Provides care to more than 3 children, more than occasionally, in a location other than the child's own home.  They may care for up to 10 children including their own (a maximum of 6 children preschool age or younger, of which only 2 may be under age two).

Some Advantages

  • Widely available and typically have flexible hours
  • Home-like environment
  • May have smaller group size
  • May be more affordable
  • Mixed age group, so siblings can be together
  • Provider and family have passed a background check
  • May have an unannounced monitoring visit at least once a year

Some Disadvantages

  • May not have a back-up if provider is unavailable
  • License renewed every 2 years
  • Provider only required to have 10 hours of training every 2 years
  • Quality varies

Provides care for no more than 16 children in their own home.  Number and ages of children depends on number of staff.

Some Advantages

  • Home-like environment
  • Inspected/monitored for health, safety, group size, adult/child ratios, and training; annually
  • Providers are required to have 15 hours of training annually
  • Provider and family have passed a background check

Some Disadvantages

  • Not as widely available
  • May not have substitutes
  • May have a larger group size

Provides care in a facility other than their own home.  The number and ages of children is dependent on the number of staff working in the center and the square footage of the rooms children are in.

Some Advantages

  • Care is reliable – has substitutes
  • Inspected/monitored for health, safety, group size, adult/child ratios, and training; annually
  • Program may offer more structured activities
  • Providers are required to have 15 hours of training annually
  • All staff have passed a background check

Some Disadvantages

  • Less flexible hours
  • May be more expensive
  • May only take certain age children
  • Siblings may be in separate classrooms
  • Fewer choices

Preschools in Oregon are not required to be licensed, but are required to be recorded.  This means that their staff have had a background check and the program has completed the Recorded Preschool application.  Preschools operate for four or less hours a day.  They are educational programs that serve children from 36 months to school age.

Some Advantages

  • 4 or fewer hours per day
  • Offers socialization opportunities for children not needing full day care
  • May offer a specific philosophy or curriculum
  • May be recorded with the state, which requires staff to pass a background check

Some Disadvantages

  • May not  be licensed or regulated by the state
  • Not monitored or inspected
  • Training not required by the state
  • May not be recorded
  • Staff may not have passed a background check


Parents or childcare providers of young children can use the Oregon Screening Project site at no cost.  Two early childhood screening tools are available to help check a child's general and social emotional development.  The Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) appears first, followed by the Ages & Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQSE).

Inclusive Partners is a statewide program of the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities and is funded through the Oregon Department of Education, Early Learning Division, and Oregon’s Department of Human Services. 

Inclusive Partners works with child care providers caring for children who need additional accommodations to support inclusive care.  They offer these supports for children and youth from birth through age 17.  Families, child care providers, and other partners are able to make requests for assistance at no cost.

Inclusive Partners helps to promote and support inclusive practices by offering technical assistance/consultation services, a financial supplement (see DHS Eligibility Requirements), and professional development opportunities for providers.

Learn More About Inclusive Partners

If you’re looking for FREE activities, materials, and resources for your 0-5, you’re in the right place!  Play and Learn at Home delivers free activity boxes to local families every month.  Sign up below!

Learn More About Play and Learn From Home

Four Rivers Family is a collaborative effort of the Four Rivers Early Learning and Parenting Hub.  Its purpose is to connect all families in the 5 county region to services and supports to make the important and sometimes difficult job of parenting easier.

The hub has adopted the Nurturing Parenting program as its “Signature Series" for giving families useful tips and tools for supporting children as they learn and grow.  The hub partners with organizations who share its dedication to provide funding for parenting education classes, workshops, family activities, and parent cafes as a resource to parents in our region. 

If you wish to register a complaint against a provider or child care center, you may submit the online complaint form or call the Office of Child Care’s Central Office at 1-800-556-6616.


  • If you think someone is being hurt or is in danger, call 911 immediately.
  • Report child abuse to a local office of the Department of Human Services (DHS) or a local police department, county sheriff, county juvenile department, or Oregon State Police. 
  • You may also call 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse or neglect of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your role does not end when you have selected a provider for your child.  You need to visit the child care provider often and at times when you are not expected.  If your child is old enough, ask them about their day and listen to see if they are active, engaged, and happy to be there.

Visit the Office of Child Care website to see if your provider has had any founded complaints or non-compliances or call the Oregon Early Learning Division at 1-800-556-6616.

In Oregon there are three types of licensed child care: Registered Family Child Care, Certified Family Child Care, and Certified Child Care Centers.  Preschools in Oregon are not licensed, but are required to be recorded.  This means that their staff have had a background check and the program has completed the Recorded Preschool application.

Call the Office of Child Care at 1-800-556-6616.


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