Child Care Resources Inc. is a private, non-profit child care resource and referral agency that works with families and communities to help ensure that all children have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and school-age opportunities and experiences that enable them to succeed in school and in life.
Jessenya Baltazar wanted to work and return to school after the birth of her twin daughters, and she needed reliable child care to do both. Her fiance, a certified nursing assistant doing hospice work, also attends school full-time.
Baltazar began her child care hunt with a Google search, making multiple calls only to discover that providers had long wait lists, in some cases up to two years. Or she would discover that places she thought might be a good fit were not, such as the center that turned out to be an hour’s drive away. She was working with a state emergency assistance caseworker when she was directed to Child Care Resources Inc. (CCRI), a nonprofit child care resource and referral agency.
One Tuesday in late May, Baltazar dropped off her 4-month-old twins, Selena Charlotte and Reyna Carolina, at their child care center and then prepared for her online class.
“I am so thankful for Child Care Resources,” said Baltazar, who plans to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a dental hygienist. “I had felt I was at a dead end. I was worried we were not going to be able to get child care, and I wasn’t going to be able to work.”
Child Care Search, a free program run by CCRI, has grown into a valuable resource for parents seeking child care and, in some cases, financial assistance to help pay for that care. Child Care Search serves parents in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Union, Rowan and Stanly counties. Last year, Child Care Search provided consultations and referrals that helped 6,075 families, including 10,500 children.
“Choosing child care is often a person’s first major decision after the birth of their child,” said Janet Singerman, president and CEO of CCRI, which has been serving parents for more than 40 years. “We equip families with the information they need to make an informed choice.”
When Child Care Search first started, Junior League volunteers fielded calls. Today, a team of trained counselors works with parents to provide them with referrals that most closely address their needs and preferences. Child Care Search gathers more than 150 different types of information from licensed child care programs, such as operating hours, transportation offered, languages spoken, and worker training and credentials. Counselors have college degrees, and some have backgrounds in child development or early childhood care. Spanish-language counselors are also available.
In her nearly four years at Child Care Search, Director Karla Leon-Picado has also helped a range of parents with extenuating circumstances: teenagers wishing to continue with high school, foster parents, parents who are homeless and want to work, and grandparents who are working while raising grandchildren. During the pandemic, Leon-Picado and her team also worked with healthcare employees and other essential workers needing child care.
Child Care Search recently helped Perla Saucedo, who works for a remodeling company, find child care for her daughter, Daniela. Counselors curated a list of available centers near Saucedo’s home and also helped her obtain financial assistance to pay for care.
“I recommend them because with the financial help they provide, we, as parents, are able to work while our children are safe and well taken care of,” Saucedo said.
According to the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education, North Carolina has one of the highest rates of working mothers with young children. More than 200,000 children spend part or all of their day in regulated child care, according to the division.
Expertise inspires confidence
When Baltazar walked into the Child Care Search offices, she was immediately struck by how welcoming the office felt, she said. The decor was colorful, candy was available for visitors, and toys were set out for children to play.
She said employees were knowledgeable and also very kind to her. A Child Care Search counselor helped her narrow her search and offered ideas that Baltazar hadn’t thought of, such as what to do with her 8-year-old daughter once school ended. The counselor suggested looking for a child care center that also offered a summer camp for older children.
The day Baltazar dropped off her daughters was bittersweet, she said. She missed her babies, but she also felt confident that they would be well cared for. She had found a 5-star-rated program (the highest rating given by the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education) located near her house.
When she dropped the infants off, the caretakers cradled the babies to help them become acclimated to the new environment. Baltazar also was able to enroll her older daughter in a summer care program there.
“I just know the girls are going to be loved there. They are going to be safe,” she said. “If not for Child Care Search, I still would be going down my Google list, calling. They told me, ‘We are with you, and will go with you all the way.’ And they did.”
About Child Care Search
Child Care Search offers families free, personalized referrals to licensed child care providers and help in finding child care subsidy funds for children ages birth to 12.
Counselors create a list of programs that best match a parent’s needs. Parents can then contact the child care programs to ask about availability and learn more about the programs.
Counselors also share information on topics including licensed child care options, quality indicators within child care, Head Start and public pre-K programs, child care subsidies, early intervention tools, community resources and programs for which families may be eligible, such as WIC, Medicaid, TANF and SNAP.
To start your child care search, you can call 704-348-2181 or go online.
Find information about child care subsidy funds here.