Children's healthy development depends on safe and positive experiences starting at an early age throughout childhood and teenage years. Follow these recommendations to measure the quality of providers and centers:
Refer to these guidelines to help you evaluate the quality of providers and centers as you visit or interview them.
Find out if the child care provider is licensed in your state. Ask to see a copy of the state license when you visit.
Use these resources to find affordable services in your area:
State agencies offer child care assistance to eligible families. Eligibility and how to apply varies by state. Learn more from your state’s social services office.
Head Start promotes school readiness for children under five through education, health, social, and other services. Families with an income at or below the poverty level may be eligible for the programs. You can find a Head Start program in your area.
Adoption is the creation of a new, permanent relationship between an adoptive parent and child. Once this happens, there is no legal difference between a child who is adopted and a child who is born into a family.
Foster care is a form of “out-of-home” care. Children in out-of-home care may live in relatives' homes, non-family related foster homes, treatment foster homes, or group or residential care.
How to Become an Adoptive or Foster Family
These programs can help you learn more about adoption and foster parenting:
Child support is the monthly monetary payment a court orders a child’s noncustodial parent to pay the parent with primary custody. This helps take care of the child’s needs on a daily basis, from food and housing to clothing and medical needs.
Any parent or person with custody of a child who needs help to establish a child support order from court or to collect support payments can apply through their state for child support services. People who have received assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and federally assisted foster care programs are automatically referred for child support services.
How to Get Child Support
To get help with child support, follow these steps:
If you cannot resolve your child support issue with your local office, this information from the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) can help you learn how to resolve your problem.
Problems with Noncustodial Parent
In most cases, issues such as non-payment are handled at the state and local level, not by the federal government. If you know the location of a noncustodial parent who may be behind in his or her payments, reach out to the state where the child support case is active.
Child Support Enforcement Abroad
If you have questions about child support payments from or to someone in a foreign country, search the Office of Child Support Enforcement's international resources to see if there is a state or national agreement to provide child support services with the country in question. If you need further help, email your international child support questions to OCSEinternational@acf.hhs.gov.