All children deserve quality, inclusive child care. Sadly, some children face formidable obstacles to such care simply because of their background or differences in ability. Fortunately, there are civil rights laws protecting equal access to child care.
The Child Care Law Center works to fulfill the promise of these laws and ensure that children are not denied equal access to integrated, high quality child care and early education programs because of disability, race, national origin, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
For publications and resources on the information below, please visit our Equal Access Resources page.
Children with Disabilities
Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can help children with disabilities access child care that meets their needs. In order for this to happen, it is critical that families know their children’s rights, child care providers understand their responsibilities, and the law is enforced.
The Child Care Law Center provides publications and trainings to explain the law to parents and providers. We also provide assistance to attorneys representing children with disabilities to help them enforce their clients’ rights in the context of child care.
Our work in this area focuses on helping children with disabilities and the child care providers who care for them by:
- Ensuring that health and safety regulations allow licensed child care providers to provide medications and other incidental medical services to children in their care when needed.
- Advocating for policies to reduce preschool exclusion and expulsion.
- Informing child care providers about their responsibilities under state and federal disability laws.
- Offering strategies for child care providers caring for children with challenging behaviors.
Half of the children in California have at least one immigrant parent. These children are less likely to access high quality child care. Understanding the intersection of immigration laws and laws governing federal funding for child care is critical to ensuring children from immigrant families receive equal access to quality child care.
The Child Care Law Center engages in policy work, provides information, and conducts outreach to help remove these barriers to high quality child care for immigrant children. We also provide technical assistance to attorneys representing immigrant families to help them access the child care they need in their individual cases.
Our work in this area focuses on helping children from immigrant families and the child care providers who care for them by:
- Ensuring that families with limited English proficiency in federally funded child care programs receive effective communication, such as notices in home languages and interpretation services.
- Advocating for removal of existing immigration status barriers to participation in child care and early education.
- Providing assistance to enforce children’s equal access, regardless of immigration status, to child care programs subject to public educational standards and in Head Start collaborations.
Children and Families Facing Discrimination
State and federal laws support the integration and success of all of California’s diverse children, including in child care settings. Federal civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status. California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act is even more protective, prohibiting discrimination by all business establishments based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, and sexual orientation. California’s “personal rights” provisions offer further, specific protections, such as protecting the right of a mother who wishes to breast feed her child at a child care facility.
The Child Care Law Center engages in policy work, and provides information and training to child care providers and families to help fulfill the promise of these laws. We also provide technical assistance to attorneys seeking to enforce their clients’ rights in the context of child care.
Our work in this area focuses on protecting children and the child care providers who care for them from discrimination by:
- Ensuring equal access to high quality, inclusive child care for individuals from protected groups such as LGBT parents or children, or individuals who are engaged in protected activities such as breastfeeding.
- Assisting child care providers from protected groups with respect to their participation in public programs such as child care licensing and subsidized child care.
- Providing information and training to child care providers to help them understand the complicated intersection of health and safety laws and individual families’ religious rights, as they relate to immunization laws and other issues.
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- California Child Development Services Immigration Status Non-Discrimination Provision
- California Department of Education Management Bulletin 13-04 (Parent Appeals)
- California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH)
- California Disabled Persons Act
- Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE)
- Disability Rights California
- Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
- Disability Rights Legal Center
- Early Start Program – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Family Resource Centers Network of California
- Government Code Section 11135
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Know the Law About Disabilities and Challenging Behaviors in California
- Know the Law About The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Child Care in California
- Learning Rights Law Center
- Protection & Advocacy Systems
- Regional Centers – Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
- Special Education Rights and Responsibilities Handbook
- U.S. Department of Justice Publications on Child Care and the Americans with Disabilities Act
- United States Department of Justice ADA Settlement Summaries 2011 (Document)