Child Care Certification in California with Program Summaries

There are more than 70 colleges within California that have child care certification programs. Read an overview of the 10 largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition information, and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Of more than 70 schools in California that offer child care courses, the 10 largest 2-year city colleges and 4-year public universities have a variety of program options for people seeking permits, licenses, or credentials that can lead to careers in preschool, daycare, or home-care settings. Students can choose from programs at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's levels, depending on their prior educational experiences. Programs may consist of areas of concentration and could include internship requirements. The titles of the programs include:

  • Certificate of Achievement in Child Development
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Child and Adolescent Development
  • Child Development Teacher Permit Program
  • Certificate of Completion - Child Development Instructional Assistant
  • Certificate of Completion - Special Education Assistant
  • Certificate in Family Life Education
  • Certificate in Early Childhood Socio-Emotional and Behavior Regulation Intervention Specialist
  • Certificate of Achievement in Early Childhood Intervention Assistant

California State University - Fullerton

The Fullerton branch of the California State University system enrolls more than 36,000 students, and it offers undergraduate and advanced degrees. Within the College of Health and Human Development there is the option for undergraduate students to major in child and adolescent development, and in this major there are 4 options. The early childhood development (ECD) option requires 42 units of ECD-specific coursework in addition to a 9-unit core curriculum required of all students in this major. Some classes in this B.S. program cover how to observe in early childhood settings, assess infant/toddler development, and work with parents of young children.

California State University - Northridge

This California State University, located in Northridge, offers a degree program leading to the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development, which includes fieldwork and internship experiences with local schools and community organizations in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas. There are nearly 37,000 students in this school, which is home to the Oviatt Library. This library contains an extensive collection of materials relevant to teaching children from preschool through grade 12 in the Teacher Curriculum Center. Students in this B.A. program can benefit from these resources when completing required coursework in classes that cover cognitive development, infancy and early childhood, and child and adolescent development.

California State University - Sacramento

This school, part of the extensive California State University system, is located in Sacramento - California's state capital. There are several tracks of study available at for individuals seeking a child development bachelor's degree. Future child care workers can enroll in an undergraduate program in early development, care, and education (EDCE), which offers the appropriate training for those who wish to apply for a child development program director permit from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). Furthermore, there are several graduate programs of study related to child development offered at this school: the Master of Arts in Child Development, Master of Science in Counseling, and Master of Arts in Education are all possibilities for advanced study in this field.

City College of San Francisco

With more than 35,500 students, this San Francisco-based college is one of the larger schools in northern California. City College of San Francisco offers a variety of options for students seeking courses related to child care. Those interested in a degree program that may transfer to a 4-year school may enroll in the program of study that leads to the Associate of Science in Child Development and Family Studies. This degree program calls for 60 units of coursework, about half of which will be completed in child development classes. Students who successfully complete this program may be qualified to teach in a variety of home-care or daycare settings. Additionally, there are more than 10 child development certificate programs in subjects that include administration, family child care, appreciating diversity, pre-teacher, youth worker, violence intervention in early childhood, and school-age care. These certificate programs vary in length but may be appropriate for child care workers seeking to complete professional development credits or looking for a specific focus for short-term study.

East Los Angeles College

East Los Angeles College, located in Monterey Park, enrolls more than 37,000 students each year, making it the largest community college in this state. ELAC offers an Associate in Arts in Child Development program, which may be available for transfer to a 4-year degree program. Additionally, the Child, Family, and Education Studies department at ELAC makes available a number of certificate programs for prospective child care workers seeking to meet state requirements for teaching permits or facility licenses. Credits earned in the certificate programs at ELAC may be applicable to the A.A. degree and aim to provide training for prospective child care workers. Whether the goal is to run a home daycare, work as a child care assistant, or supervise teachers in a daycare facility, there are several options to pursue at ELAC.

Pasadena City College

This college, located north of Los Angeles in Pasadena, offers a variety of child development certificate programs, which may prepare child care workers for entry into this field, or for career advancement. Credits earned while completing these certificate programs may also apply to the 60 units required for associate degree programs at this school. Child development courses are offered under the sociology department at PCC, and course topics include infant and toddler development; health, safety, and nutrition; teaching in a diverse society; and a field practice. Opportunities to practice curriculum planning, work with preschool age children, or learn about diverse student populations also exist in this department, depending on which pattern of study is chosen. To earn the Associate in Science in Child Development, students must complete 18 units of major-specific coursework as well as general education requirements to equal a total of 60 units.

San Diego State University

Located in San Diego, this branch of the California State University system serves more than 30,000 students. The College of Education at SDSU offers a number of options for students pursuing the study of child and family development. In this department, there are 2 degree programs: the Bachelor of Science in Applied Arts and Sciences: Child Development and the Master of Science in Child Development. It is important to note, however, that the B.S. program is considered impacted, which means that applicants to this program may find that admissions are highly competitive. For students pursuing study in other areas, there is also the child development minor. Additionally, there are 2 certificate programs: 1 for graduate students seeking specialized training as early childhood education specialists and 1 for individuals seeking training as family life specialists.

San Francisco State University

This university in San Francisco offers child development courses in its Department of Child and Adolescent Development, and with more than 1,000 students in this major, this course of study has been declared impacted since 2011. Because of the high demand for this major, only students with upper-division status are admitted each fall. Those pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development program will choose from 1 of the 4 possible areas of emphasis, including early childhood development. Students in this 4-year degree program are required to complete an 18-unit core curriculum and a 27-unit concentration-specific course of study, in addition to completing the general education courses required of all degree seekers at SFSU. Furthermore, there is a culminating internship experience required of early childhood development majors; this internship may fulfill state credentialing requirements and provide students with some relevant experience before they seek employment in this field.

San Jose State University

This state university, located in the northern California city of San Jose, is home to more than 30,000 students. The Department of Child and Adolescent Development at this school offers several courses of study that lead to degrees and credentials in this field. There are 2 options for the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development. Both options provide general preparation in child and adolescent development, but those seeking employment in public K-12 schools may also want to add subject matter preparation for elementary school teaching. The Master of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development program is an advanced program of study that may lead to career advancement for current child care practitioners. Additionally, there are 2 undergraduate minors, the inclusion of which may allow for degree seekers at this school to supplement a complementary baccalaureate program with education in atypical child studies or child and adolescent development.

Santa Monica College

This college is located in the coastal city of Santa Monica, and it has about 29,900 students enrolled in classes, certificate programs, and associate degree programs. There is an Associate of Art and a certificate of achievement offered in early childhood education, as well as 2 additional certificates offered for those seeking employment as early childhood education intervention assistants or teachers. The 30-unit certificate of achievement in early childhood education may provide appropriate training for those seeking early childhood teaching permits, and the degree program offers an opportunity to earn units that may transfer to a related 4-year degree program at other schools in this state.

Career Requirements

California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) awards a variety of child development permits at varying levels of expertise, and each permit has different educational requirements. To apply for a child development assistant permit, one must complete 6 semester units in either early childhood development or school-age care. Additional levels of child development permits require progressively more education, and some also require a teaching practicum. The highest level of permit authorizes an individual who meets all requirements to act as a program director, and it requires a bachelor's degree.

For family care practitioners, those who plan to offer child care in a home setting, the California Department of Social Services awards licenses to child care facilities, and it requires those who will be acting as primary caregivers in a licensed child care facility or family daycare to complete a 15-hour preventative health training program, which includes CPR and first aid. Additionally, all child care workers and residents of any home care site must be willing to submit to fingerprinting and a criminal background check.

Several of the largest schools in California offer programs that can lead to permits or licenses for child care workers or facilities, and several of the schools listed below offer both the minimum requirements for entry into this field and opportunities for further study. Read about the 10 largest schools in California to offer child care training programs, and compare details like cost and location in the school comparison table.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Location Child Care Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
California State University - Fullerton 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development $6,437 in-state,
$17,597 out-of-state*
California State University - Northridge 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development $6,569 in-state,
$17,729 out-of-state*
California State University - Sacramento 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Child Development,
Master of Arts in Child Development
$6,872 in-state,
$18,032 out-of-state*
City College of San Francisco 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Child Development in multiple concentrations, including: Administration, Family Child Care, Infant and Toddler Care, and Pre-Teacher, Associate of Science in Child Development and Family Studies $1,598 in-state,
$7,554 out-of-state*
East Los Angeles College 2-year, public; small city Skills Certificate in Child Development: Family Child Care,
Skills Certificate in Child Development: Associate Teacher,
Certificate of Achievement in Child Development: Teacher,
Certificate of Achievement in Child Development: Site Supervisor,
Associate in Arts in Child Development
$1,220 in-state,
$6,810 out-of-state*
Pasadena City College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement - Child Development,
Certificate of Completion - Child Development Instructional Assistant,
Certificate of Completion - School Age Instructional Assistant,
Certificate of Completion - Special Education Assistant,
Associate in Science in Child Development
$1,152 in-state,
$6,180 out-of-state*
San Diego State University 4-year, public; large city Certificate in Family Life Education,
Certificate in Early Care and Education,
Bachelor of Science in Applied Arts and Sciences in Child Development,
Master of Science in Child Development
$6,976 in-state,
$18,136 out-of-state*
San Francisco State University 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development $6,476 in-state,
$17,636 out-of-state*
San Jose State University 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development,
Master of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development
$7,378 in-state,
$18,538 out-of-state*
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Early Childhood Education,
Certificate of Achievement in Early Childhood Intervention Assistant,
Associate in Arts in Early Childhood Education
$1,136 in-state,
$8,078 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator


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