state-subsidized day care centers
There are various state subsidized child care programs that target low-income families and certain population groups, such as foster families, immigrants, and the homeless.
Programs typically serve children from birth to age 12; There are some supports for children with disabilities.
Who is eligible: Your household may be eligible for state-subsidised child support if it meets at least one of the following conditions:
- Your family receives CalWorks assistance.
- Your family income is 85 percent or less of the state median income. (See income eligibility chart below.)
- Your family is homeless or in need of permanent housing.
- You have children in your household who receive child protective services or who have been identified by an agency as being at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Your family’s 2022 pre-tax income must fall within these limits to qualify for California subsidized child care:
Most discounted care programs also require families to demonstrate that they need child care by meeting at least one of the following conditions:
- studying or training
State preschool is a publicly funded program for 3- and 4-year-olds designed to prepare them for childcare. State pre-school can be part-day or full-day and is offered by school districts and some day care centers.
Who is eligible: Households with an income equal to or less than the state median income are eligible. For a family of four, this means earning $112,105 or less a year.
Children with disabilities may receive benefits without meeting income requirements. Children can also get help if they are homeless, in child protective services or at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Children as young as 4 can attend Transitional Kindergarten, a free elective curriculum offered by public schools. Transitional Kindergarten programs are part-day or full-day and may not be available in all school districts.
Who is eligible: During the current 2022-2023 school year, Transitional Kindergarten is open to children whose fifth birthday falls between September 2 and February 2. In 2025, it will be available to all children who turn 4 before September 1.
Head Start is a federal program that provides free child care and family support services to children ages 0-5. To find a Head Start program, you can call 1-866-763-6481 or visit eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/center-locator.
Who is eligible: Households with income at or below the federal poverty level are eligible. By 2022, this means a family of four should earn no more than $27,750 per year.
Children in foster care or homeless, or whose families receive public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income) are also eligible.
military child care
The military operates its own childcare program and provides financial assistance to families who cannot find space in military childcare.
Who is eligible: Eligibility and priority for military childcare depends on several factors, including your status and whether you are single or married. Military families can apply for premium assistance regardless of income level.
Visit militarychildcare.com for information on the requirements you must meet.