Planning for Childcare in California
Kristen Anderson

Planning for Childcare in California

Regular price $50.00
  • Item# CC
  • ISBN: 978-0-923956-71-4
  • Copyright (c) 2006
  • Paperback
  • Price: $50.00


This book presents basic child care information and guidelines for municipal, county, and school district planners, and for child care professionals and their advocates. Includes resource material that discusses regulation of child care by cities and counties through the General Plan and zoning, featuring strategies for ensuring that child care needs are met locally.


PART I: Understanding Child Care

  1. Why Plan for Child Care?
  2. Child Care—What It Is, What It Is Not
  3. The Child Care System
  4. Who Plans for Child Care
  5. Community Child Care Planning—Where to Start

PART II: Accommodating Child Care

  1. The Role Cities and Counties Can Play
  2. General Plans as a Policy Basis for Facilities and Services
  3. Land Use Compatibility
  4. Child Care-Friendly Zoning Ordinances and Permitting Processes.

PART III: Linking Child Care and Community Development

  1. Child Care Center Development Factors and Solutions
  2. Housing and Child Care
  3. Child Care and Transportation
  4. Transit-Oriented Development and Transit Villages
  5. Work-Site Child Care Centers
  6. Other Child Care Models and Partnerships
  7. Conclusion


Planning for Child Care in California presents basic child care information and guidelines for municipal, county, and school district planners, and for child care professionals and their advocates.

The book provides resource material that defines child care, discusses how cities and counties regulate child care in its various forms through the General Plan and zoning, and features strategies for ensuring that child care needs are met locally.

Guidelines for incorporating child care goals into the public planning process are covered, with specific attention to the location, planning, and design of housing, centers of employment, and transit-based facilities.

Numerous examples of real child care projects, designs, and partnerships are included, along with sources of funding and other implementation strategies.


Kristen M. Anderson is Child Care Coordinator for the City of Redwood City, California, with responsibility for developing child care resources in both the public and private sectors, providing technical assistance to center-based and family child care home providers, promoting public awareness of child care issues, acting as public/private sector liaison, and preparing grant proposals for funding.

She received her Ph.D. in Early Education and Child Development from Stanford University in 1981.


Child care and early education are not considered a public responsibility in American society, and consequently there is no universal public system for child care as there is for education. In California, cities, counties, school districts, and other public agencies are not required to plan for or develop child care facilities or services, or even to assess how new development affects existing resources. While a local government may not prohibit a family child care home, the state does not ensure that facilities and programs exist.

Instead, the availability of child care relies on the commitment and leadership of local planners, public officials, community advocates, and activist members of the child care “industry.” With that in mind, this book describes how child care actually works in the state, and why local governments can and do support its development and operation.

The primary audience for Planning for Child Care in California is professional planners, but public officials, community services departments in local government, housing and community developers, students, and child care professionals/advocates may also find it helpful. Since the planning field itself is too comprehensive to describe here, and is already available to professional planners, a limited and select list of resources for further reading for non-planners is presented in Appendix B.

The book focuses on California’s laws and policies, with examples of child care projects in cities and counties throughout the state. Because several other states have parallel laws, regulations, funding, and resources, many of the concepts, strategies, and models described here may also apply to other regions. (In fact, other cities, states, and countries have model initiatives that cannot be covered in this book.) Some references to national resource agencies and information sources are also included.

The reader may notice that the preponderance of illustrative examples are from urban and suburban, rather than rural, areas. This reflects two factors. First, built-out communities face greater challenges, causing advocates and planners to be aggressive and creative in finding solutions. Second, the concentration of need resulting from population density, along with ready expertise and leadership in some areas, has led to two decades or more of seasoned child care planning, advocacy, and public education. As a result, built-out communities provide useful models of policies and practices that have been established or revised along with actual projects that have been built.

The book covers the need for child care in rural areas, as well as what a rapidly (or soon-to-be) developing area experiences. Planners and child care advocates can learn from built-out communities in order to anticipate and avoid the consequences of the lack of early child care planning.

The daily lives and futures of a community’s children and its families are affected positively or negatively by the availability and accessibility of high-quality, affordable child care and early education. Whether one or both parents in a two-parent family are employed, their children need programs that support optimal early development and prepare them to be successful in school and life. American society has an obligation to plan and provide these programs.

Planning for Child Care in California is organized in three parts:

Part I: Understanding Child Care provides a background on child care that is important to the balance of the book. Chapter 1 explains the role of child care and early education in American society and why planners and public officials should support its development and improvement. Chapters 2 and 3 define child care in all its forms, describing the complex, diverse, and fragmented system of providers, funding sources, and regulation that challenges the system's ability to meet the needs of California's families. Chapters 4 and 5 offer a brief history of child care planning in California, who the key players have been, and information and strategies planners and advocates can use to site and develop programs that meet a community's needs.

Part II: Accommodating Child Care describes how local jurisdictions support child care development and operation through land use policies and regulations, providing leadership and dedicating resources. Chapter 6 identifies the roles local governments have voluntarily assumed when public officials and staff recognize the importance of child care and early education. It also discusses the importance of leadership in directing and leveraging resources to meet a community's needs. Chapter 7 describes child care policies as part of a general plan, with illustrations from several jurisdictions. Chapter 8 addresses locations appropriate for child care and concerns about land use compatibility. Chapter 9 covers local zoning and permitting policies and practices that assist or discourage the development of different types of facilities. State laws that restrict local regulation as well as tools for planners working with prospective child care operators are also discussed.

Part III: Linking Child Care and Community Development addresses the connections between child care and other community development activities. Information about child care development factors, space needs, cost, and design issues is provided in chapter 10, along with challenges and solutions for planners assisting with projects or developments where child care may be a component. Chapters 11 through 15 offer both the rationale for and examples of child care linked to housing, transportation, transit-oriented development, and transit villages, as well as other uses.

Many planners, developers, and child care professionals are more knowledgeable about specific topics, and this book includes references to their work and numerous other resources. However, since no similar compilation is currently available on the range of topics presented here, Planning for Child Care in California may serve as a good starting point for those seeking to support the development of child care. It is organized and presented as a pragmatic tool for professionals, public planners, and child care specialists alike and, in a sense, as an advocacy statement.

The business of community planning is affected by myriad forces, including laws, technical issues, funding, and politics. So, too, is the business of developing and operating child care facilities. Planning for Child Care in California is unique in explaining the forces that act to constrain the development of child care, while offering supportive strategies that recognize the goals and realities of community development. Extensive and usable best practices information, sample policies and tools, proactive strategies, and model projects from around the state will be a valuable resource for planning, community development, and child care professionals and advocates as they work to address the needs for child care and early education in their communities.

—Kristen Anderson January 2006


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