What Parents Should Know


Types of Child Care

Family Child Care is child care provided in the caregiver’s home. Regulations allow her to take care of as many as eight children at any one time. However, the specific number of children a provider is allowed to care for will be indicated on her registration certificate. No more than two of these children, including the provider’s own, may be under two years old.

Group Child Care Centers are operated in "non-home" settings such as schools, churches, synagogues, and other buildings. Centers tend to be open on a fixed schedule of eight or more hours a day, year round. Children at centers are usually grouped with others of the same age.

School Age Care refers to programs for children before and/or after school hours and during school holidays and vacations. Both family child care and center-based settings can offer this kind of care.

Nursery Schools provide programs with an "educational" focus for children one or two years before they enter kindergarten. Usually, they operate part-day, nine months a year.

Kindergartens, both public and private, offer children the year of schooling before first grade. Usually, they operate part-day, nine months a year.

Summer Programs refer to center or school-based settings for school-age children, licensed by the Office of Child Care. The programs are offered during the summer months of June, July and August.

Camps refer to day, residential, travel or trip camps certified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, that accommodate campers who are unrelated to the youth camp operator and provide primarily outdoor recreation activities.



In Maryland, the Department of Education/Office of Child Care (OCC) licenses family child care homes, child care centers, pre-school programs and school-age programs.

  • A family child care home is required to be licensed if the provider:
  • Is not related to each child;
  • Provides care on a regular basis, more than 20 hours per month.
  • Office of Child Care requires a criminal records check for family child care providers and all adult residents of their homes age 18 and older. Centers are required to have a criminal records check on all employees and volunteers age 18 and over.
  • For every 20 children in the child care center there must be one staff member trained in First Aid and CPR. Family child care providers are required to have First Aid, CPR and SIDS training.
  • Group programs (child care centers, preschool, and school age programs) as well as family child care homes are inspected by the Office of Child Care and the State Fire Marshal.
  • Family child care providers and center staff are required to complete a specific amount of continued training. Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center (BCCCRC) or OCC can give you specific details on required training.
  • Family child care homes are licensed for a maximum 8 children. Of these children, only 2 may be under the age of 2 (toddlers are considered infants until they are 2 years old). The providers’ children under age 6 are considered child care children.
  • The license must be displayed in a location visible to parents. The provider’s or program’s capacity, as well as any license restrictions are shown on the license.
  • Prior to admission to a child care center or family child care home, children are required to have a written health report including evidence of up-to-date immunizations. Children are excluded from care when they have symptoms of acute illness, or during the period of communicability of a serious infectious disease.
  • Licensed child care providers must have an "open door" policy. Parents may visit and/or observe at any time when the program is operating, without prior arrangement.

For more detailed information, please call:

Baltimore City Office of Child Care
Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center

Remember, as a parent you have your own standards and requirements and will look for providers that meet them. It is up to you to make sure the provider or program that you choose for your child meets the needs of your child and family.
Source: Child Care Choices, Frederick, Maryland

Financial Assistance

Child Care Financial Assistance

Child care is a major household expense - exceeded only by housing, food and taxes. Many families who need child care find that the costs strain, if not overwhelm, their budgets. Becoming knowledgeable about sources of financial assistance can help.

Government Programs

Child Care Subsidy:
This is a state-funded financial assistance system. Local Departments of Social Services (DSS) assist parents who have limited incomes and need child care in order to work or to attend school or certain job training programs. It is available to eligible families who are seeking child care in registered family child care homes or licensed child care centers. Financial eligibility is dependent on family size and income. Call Baltimore City DSS Central Child Care at 443-423-7895 for more information concerning eligibility.

Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit:
Parents with a child (or children) under the age of 13 years may be eligible for a federal, as well as a state, tax credit. The federal credit is deducted directly from the income taxes the parent owes. It is not necessary to itemized to deductions in order to qualify. Generally, the tax credit is set up for parents who need child care in order to work. For full details, parent should consult IRS Publication 503, visit the IRS website at irs.gov or call an area IRS office.

Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC):
The Earned Income Credit is a tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers. It lets taxpayers get back some or all of the taxes that were withheld from their paychecks during the year. In addition, many taxpayers receive an additional cash payment above the amount of withheld taxes. To qualify, a parent must be working full or part-time and income guidelines are based on family size. For more information and help with the forms, call First Call for Help at 1-800-492-0618.

Federal Child Tax Credit (CTC):
If a parent has a dependent child under age 17, the parent may be eligible to receive the Federal Child Tax Credit. The income limit for the CTC is much higher than for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the parent does not have to owe taxes to receive the credit. For more information, consult IRS Publication 596 or visit the IRS website at irs.gov.

Dependent Care Assistance Programs (DCAPs):
Employers may offer a Dependent Care Assistance Program to employees to assist with their child care expenses. This plan allows an employee to have money taken out of his/her paycheck tax-free and put it into a special account to be used for child care expenses reimbursement. The purpose of this plan is to help a parent lower the amount of taxes paid during the year.

Working Parents Assistance:
Montgomery County) A county funded child care subsidy program based on local needs and circumstances, cost of living in Montgomery County, and the actual cost of child care.

Private Assistance

In the event of a hardship, if possible, programs may offer assistance to parents in paying for child care through private funding sources. Some centers receive support from United Way or other private groups that allows them to offer financial assistance to parents in need.

Sibling Discount:
This refers to a cost discount to a parent if a provider or program is caring for more than one child in the family.

Sliding Fee:
This refers to a flexible fee structure typically linked to family income.

Employer Supported Child Care:
Employers may offer on-site child care or may have made arrangements with local child care centers to reserve slots or offer slots at a discounted rate for their employees.