Glossary | Collaborative For Children


Here are some common terms you’ll see and hear when learning about your child care options.

Child Care

Providing care and/or supervision for children and their daily needs, in a home or center setting. Also often referred to as “daycare.”

Child Care Center

A facility that provides regularly scheduled care for a group of children one month of age through 12 years of age for periods of less than 24 hours

Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R)

Organizations that help parents take the guesswork out of choosing care – giving them referrals to local child care providers, information on state licensing requirements, availability of child care subsidies, and other pertinent information. CCR&Rs provide guidance by phone, in person, and in other ways, such as the Internet, that are tailored to each individual family.

Child Development Associate (CDA)

A national credential awarded by the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition. This credential requires at least 120 hours of formal training within the last five years. 

Charter School

A public school formed and operated by teachers, parents, and other community members in order to promote innovative approaches to education.

Child Care Subsidy

Federal, state and county funds that subsidize child care costs for eligible families. Also referred to as Child Care Assistance or Child Care Financial Aid.

Child Care Provider / Child Care Program

Those individuals who provide child care services.


A common term for child care.

Developmental Stages

An expected, sequential order of obtaining skills that children typically go through. Examples: crawling before walking, using fingers to feed themselves before using utensils.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice

The implementation of curriculum and activities suitable for a child’s stage of development that supports the child’s learning process.

Drop Off / Drop in Child Care Centers

These facilities provide care for children for short periods of time while parents run errands or go to appointments.

Early Intervention

A range of services designed to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities or at risk of development delay. These services are intended to maximize the potential of the child.

Early Childhood Education

A branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up until the age of about eight. 

Early Childhood Professional

Individual who works with young children in any capacity.

Early Head Start- EHS

A federally funded program which provides comprehensive developmental services to low-income families with pregnant women, infants and toddlers up to age three.

Extended Day Program

A child care program for school-age children. This program provides supervision, academic enrichment, and recreation for children after school hours end.

Family Child Care Home

Care in a provider’s home. Family child care is provided for a group of children of various ages.

Head Start

Comprehensive, federally-funded child development programs which serve children from three to age five, and their families. They are child-focused programs and have the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families.

Home Visitor

An individual who conducts home-based child development/education programs for families.


Being aware of everyone’s right to be treated the same.

Individualized Education Plan – (IEP)

A program generally developed for a child who receives special education services. The plan focuses on areas of assistance the child may need to succeed at specific tasks or areas of learning.


A child birth to 17 months of age.

Informal child care

A term used for child care provided by relatives, friends and neighbors in the child’s own home or in another home, often in unregulated settings. Also called “Family, Friends and Neighbor” care.

In-home child care

Child care provided in the child’s home by relatives or non-relatives. Non-relative caregivers are sometimes called nannies, babysitters and au pairs.

Income eligible

Meeting state income requirements to receive a subsidy for child care.

License-Exempt child care

Legally operating child care that is exempt from the regulatory system of the state or community.

Licensing inspection

An on-site inspection of a facility to assure compliance with licensing or other regulatory requirements.

Learning center

In an early childhood program, this is an area that contains materials, such as blocks, pretend household items or art supplies, where children can explore their own interests at their own pace.


A document issued by the State to a person, a group of people, or corporation who has met the state minimum standards for child care, which allows them to legally operate a child care program.

Licensed child care

Child care programs operated in homes or in facilities that fall within the regulatory system of a state or community and comply with those regulations.

Montessori school (preschool and grade school)

A school or program that follows the Montessori method of learning which emphasizes active learning, independence, cooperation and learning in harmony with each child's unique place of development.


A nanny is employed by a family in either a live-in or live-out basis. The function of a nanny is to essentially be responsible for all care of the children in the home in a largely unsupervised setting.

Nursery school

Group programs designed for children ages 3 to 5. Normally they operate for 3-4 hours per day, and from 2-5 days a week. Also called “preschool.”

Non-traditional child care

Care provided during non-traditional work hours (e.g., weekends, overnight, work either before 6 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Monday-Friday).

Pre-Kindergarten (pre-k)

A classroom-based preschool program for children who are ages 3 to 5 with early education experiences to prepare them for school. Programs are also referred to as preschool and/or nursery school programs. Pre-K is typically delivered in a child care setting or public elementary school.

Preschool programs

Programs that offer early childhood education to children between the ages of three and five, prior to entering primary school. They usually operate for three to four hours per day, and from two to five days a week.

Professional development

In the child care field, the term refers to opportunities for child care providers to get ongoing training to increase their preparation and skill to care for children. These include mentoring programs, credentialing programs, in-service training, and degree programs.


Individual offering child care services, e.g., child care teacher, caregiver in their home, school-age counselor.

Quality Indicators

A set of measures that have been proven to affect the quality of early care and education and out of school time programs. Examples include: adult to child ratio, group size, caregiver qualifications, turnover and accreditation.

Quality Child Care

These programs or providers offer engaging, appropriate activities in settings that facilitate healthy growth and development, and prepare children for or promote their success in school.

Quality Improvement Initiatives / Programs

Initiatives that are designed to ensure that programs are systematically and intentionally improving service quality and increasing outcomes for children and families. 

Regulated child care

Child care facilities and homes that comply with either a state’s regulatory system or another system of regulation. A related term is “licensed child care,” which often refers to a particular level or standard of regulation.

School readiness

The state of early development that enables a child to engage in and benefit from learning experiences. The five arenas of child development that indicate school readiness are: health and physical development; social and emotional development; approaches toward learning; language development and communication; and cognition and general knowledge.

Slot / Space / Opening

A place for a child in a child care program.

Social and emotional development

The progression of self awareness and regulation. This growth also allows a child to learn to interact with others.

Special education

Educational programs and services for special needs and/or gifted individuals who have intellectually, physically, emotionally, or socially different characteristics from those who can be taught through normal methods or materials.

Special needs child

An individual under the age of 18 who has any condition that may require additional care or attention in areas of daily living skills, education, or behavioral concerns. Common conditions include attachment disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental disabilities, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), learning disabilities, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

State Compliance Report

The State Compliance Report is a link to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website where you will be able to view a history of the child care provider’s compliance with state licensing standards as maintained by Texas Child Care Licensing. Any inspections, violations or reported incidents about the child care provider will be included in its compliance history.  

Subsidized child care

A child care service that is partially funded by public or charitable funds to decrease the cost to parents.

Subsidy/ financial assistance

A private or public assistance received by an individual that reduces the cost of a service (such as child care).

Teacher-to-child ratio

The number of qualified teachers caring for a specified number of children in a child care program. Required ratios vary depending on the ages and abilities of the children in care.

Tiered reimbursement system

A subsidy payment system associated with the Texas Rising Star quality system offering higher payments for child care providers who meet higher quality standards or for child care that is in short supply.


A child 18 to 36 months of age.

Unlicensed child care

Child care programs that have not been licensed by the state. The term may refer to both child care that can be legally operating without a license, as well as programs that are not licensed, but should be.

Unregulated child care

Child care programs that are not monitored by a state regulating agency.

Information excerpted from Child Care Aware

You May Not Know That

In Harris County,
three-fourths of Children
in child care are in
unregulated care.

Families who found child care
through our QualiFind online
database and concierge services.

Families who were served by
Collaborative for Children's very
own everyday superheroes - our
parent engagement staff.