How to Choose a Quality Program

Choosing a quality early learning and care environment is critical to your child’s future. To help you choose the best program for your family, below are the different types of programs available and the quality characteristics they should employ to benefit your child’s development.

These settings include:

  • Center-based programs subsidized by the California Department of Education or Head Start
  • School district-based programs
  • College-based centers
  • For-profit, faith-based or non-profit centers
  • Family Childcare Centers
  • Family Friend and Neighbor Programs

Any of these settings may serve children from infancy through preschool.


What to Look For

Look for the following characteristics in the learning and care programs you research and visit:

  • Relationship between adults and children are loving and nurturing
  • Teachers, directors, and family early learning providers are trained in child development
  • The environment is safe and healthy
  • Learning activities support each child’s interests, growth, and needs
  • Families have relationships with the program staff

Other Resources to Help Families Find a Quality Program

To find a preschool, infant/toddler center, or family early learning and care programs participating in the San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, search here.


Community Resources

bullet pointCounty of San Diego Child Care Services Early Care and Education

The information on this page applies to families with children ages birth to 5 years of age and Early Care and Education Providers (i.e., Center-Based and Family Child Care Homes).

bullet pointCalFresh Emergency Allotment Information

If you receive CalFresh, you may get extra CalFresh benefits on your EBT card to help buy food during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in April and May. This flyer, available in English and Spanish, supplies more information on the additional benefits and how to apply.

bullet pointYMCA Childcare Resource Service with Partners in Prevention

Families can also call the YMCA Childcare Resource Service to determine which programs might meet their needs and can look for quality elements when visiting early learning settings to find the right match. Please call 619-521-3070 or 1-800-481-2151 to speak with an early learning or care consultant or visit the Resource and Referral website.

bullet pointQuality Counts California Resources