How to Find a Home-Based Daycare

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Hi, I'm a first time parent looking to start my son in daycare in November or December, when he will be 6-7 months old. It is so hard to find availability! I would really appreciate any recommendations of in-home daycares that might have availability anywhere near Laurel, Fruitvale, Dimond, or nearby neighborhoods. Our only requirement is a safe and loving environment where our baby will get enough attention. Outdoor space and healthy meals would be very nice. We are a bilingual English/Spanish household so would be fine to work with a Spanish-only daycare.

    Thank you!

    We have been really happy with Irma Leon/Happy Hearts Daycare near 38th and foothill. Our son started at 6 months and is now 3, he loves Irma and his very happy there. She provides meals but we send some snacks too. I think she may have openings now but am not sure. 510-712-8711, can call or text her. Spanish is her best language. 

    My daughter went to Monte Tavor at 6months, we only stayed 2-3 months because then covid started, but the time we were there we loved it, as did she. Additionally, DLPA is where my son went 5 years ago, in DImond--- they have since expanded from an in home day care (multiple locations), so I dont know their age groups... but could be worth checking out (I LOVE THEM). 

  • Finding daycare/preschool mid year

    (6 replies)

    Our daughter is 19 months old and we are looking to transition her to a daycare/preschool situation ASAP. Looking for advice on finding a situation mid year on short notice. Here’s my list of ideals, which I know we may not get... play based, outdoor time, 20-30 hours a week, location flexible. Albany/Berkeley/Oakland are all possibilities or even in the city (SOMA or Castro/Lower Haight) could be okay. 

    I did this when my daughter was little. I just started calling around to preschools that worked for me geographically. I luckily found one that had just started a new toddler program and she started right away. So that's my recommendation, google preschools near me and start calling!

    This recommendation might not be helpful right now, mid-term, but for next school year definitely check out CCC, on Walnut Street in Berkeley.  Our niece was there last year, so we got to know first hand what it is.   Parents participate one day a week, so you experience the pre-school.  Lots of creative play time, outdoor time, teachers respectful and engaged with kids, teaching respect and problem solving.   Only wish I had gone there as a pre-schooler.

    I am not sure if our preschool has any openings right now but I know they accept mid-year students. We go to Storybrook Oakland.  They have a nice website that should pop up if you do a search.  

    It is playbased and they have outdoor time, rain or shine.  The outdoor space is very large and the staff to student ratio is great.  They provide all food.  My son loves it and so do I!

    Good luck!

    I would look into home-based daycares. Both of my sons went to Cheburashka Daycare. The food is amazing and home-cooked. The teachers are warm and caring. They have a nice tree shaded yard plus they go every day to one of 2 parks. Also they are walking distance to North Berkeley BART. Owner is Victoria Scott 510-287-6873. Working hours 8-5:30pm with very few days off.


    The Model School in Berkeley has openings. Call Marina at 510.549.2711. Our son goes there, we love that school, and so does he. 

    The Model School (in south Berkeley) has openings now. We have our daughter in the Toddler 2 class and she loves it. They are play-based, Montessori-modeled curriculum. The school has outdoor play yards, dance class, music class, and singing story time - all weekly for each class. 

    Feel free to reach out out if you have questions. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages


Daycares won't call me back

May 2010


I am wondering how people get potential daycare providers to call them back. I am looking for a small home daycare for my toddler and no one will return my calls or e-mails. I had this same issue when he was a baby and ended up with a nanny because they would return my calls. Is it just me? Do I have to call multiple times? I leave friendly messages with general information about what I'm looking for. I'd like to think these daycares are just busy and not flaky. Is it better to call during non-business hours? Is there a secret password? I would appreciate any guidance. Frustrated

This seems to be par for the course. When I put my son in daycare, I called 25 places and got TWO call-backs! Maybe you can try for referrals? that's what i did for my second one and got better responses. I assume no call back means they are full. anon

I had this problem. I finally drove to the daycares and knocked on the door and talked to the director and staff. This ended up being a good idea for a few reasons - I got to see the place and meet the staff, they got to meet my child (I took him with me), and if I was in competition with others for slots I had a leg up because they knew who we were. Rebecca

The problem is that there are parents out there calling 10-20 daycares -- so every daycare is getting ten times as many calls as it could handle! If you aren't getting a call back but for whatever reason, you are really interested in the place, could you just stop by and ask if there are any openings, and if you could make an appointment to talk? Good luck!

I remember having the same frustration. I think bottom line is they are busy taking care of kids and if they don't have openings at that time they just won't call you back. Most daycares seem to just fill spots as they open, unlike preschools that have waiting lists. Have you tried working off of the BPN list of daycares that list that they have openings. Or try Bananas - I ended up finding my sons daycare through them - they weren't' listed anywhere else. good luck.

Honey, any daycare that is not calling you back is not a daycare worth putting your kind into, no? Use the Childcare Digest to seek references. Call them. The good ones will call you back. Go in and visit them, look up their license. You will find a match. -Listen to your head.

Preschools normally take applications in March for openings in September, and they fill up. Day Cares usually have openings from time to time the year 'round, so if it's day care providers not returning calls, you may well be leaving a ''red flag'' in your messages, or garbling your phone number. Ask someone to listen to you leave the message and help you figure out why they would not want to return the call. Perhaps you are asking for something unrealistic in the way of price, hours, potty training? - hope this helps -

Hi - It's not clear from your post whether you are calling daycares that you know have openings, or just calling a lot of daycares hoping to find one with an opening.

If the latter (you are calling daycares and you don't know if they have openings): Keep in mind that 1) Most daycares have a small group of children who stay with them for years, so openings are going to be rare and sporadic. 2) Daycare providers typically have a 7am to 6pm day with no breaks, during which they must give 100% of their attention to babies and small children. It's unlikely they'll be able to talk to you during the day, and at night they are prioritizing downtime vs. calling people back to say ''sorry we don't have any openings.'' If it were me, I would not want to spend my free time on the phone delivering this message to however many people called me today looking for openings.

What you need to do is focus on daycares that have openings. There are so many more daycares right now that have openings compared to a year or two ago, because of the economy. During the past two months, the BPN Childcare newsletter's ''Daycares with openings'' section has consistently had more than 20 postings every week, sometimes as many as 29. Two years ago it would have been 3 or 4 daycares with openings every week. So that says to me it's a buyer's market! Check the Childcare newsletter every week, and also check with your local childcare referral agency such as Bananas or CocoKids - there are daycares with openings and they are looking for you!

If you've already been doing this - only calling/emailing daycares that you know have an opening, then I would assume you are contacting them after they have already filled their openings. Just keep checking every week for new listings and keep your options open. There are openings out there - don't give up!

May 2004

Hi, I have been having a hard time in scheduling appointments with some day care centers in Berkeley. I am told by many parents that they will not run after you, so you have to be insistent and call them again and again. Well, I have been calling some centers for 4-5 times and they are still not returning my call. As anyone who has been through this process would know, there are so few options that you can not really say, ''I am not interested in them if they are not calling back'', because there are only 7 Centers in Berkeley which Bananas gives referral for. Yes, I understand they are very busy, but so are we, parents looking for a daycare. Is there a kind way/an etiquette to make them return your calls? What is a good approach? Should I just appear at their door to see the center? How many times are you supposed to call? I am getting into paranoid thoughts that maybe it is my accent or my name which prevents them from returning my calls. I am tried of leaving messages and I feel a bit frustrated. Please help.

Many daycares don't return your calls. I gave up on those that couldn't call me back after 4-6 calls. I figured they were full with a long wait list & too busy to bother calling back, and though I felt similar panic that you feel, keep in mind that a daycare that doesn't bother to call back (how hard could it be, really?) is probably run by people who would drive you nuts. I know it would drive me nuts. There are other daycares out there. Ask your friends. And none of them are absolutely perfect, but you will find one that meets your needs. janet

Do you know if the daycares you are calling actually have openings? If you don't know, then I'd assume that they don't have openings, and they are too busy to call you back. You didn't say if you are looking for a small home-based daycare or a larger center. If the latter, the more popular ones are always full and may have long waiting lists. You'd probably need to first schedule an appointment, then put in your application, then wait. For the smaller ones that are run out of peoples' homes, there may only be 3 or 4 children in the daycare so whether they have openings is all a matter of timing. One thing you can do is watch the Childcare newsletter for announcements about openings - usually there are a couple of them every week. You can post there too. There are a lot of home-based daycares that have been reviewed on the BPN website here: Good luck! G


How to choose home daycare

Nov 2006


Hello, I was fortunate to stay at home with my baby for 1 year. I was on an unpaid leave of absence but now I have to go back to work. I have been looking for different options for childcare. I have read the archives on this issue and most postings refer to Bananas for questions to ask to home daycare provider. I went to the web site but cannot find the list of the questions. Here are the ones I am thinking to ask but wondering whether I am missing anything.

  1-Vacations, holidays, sick days 2-Do I have to commit myself to a specific time such as 1 year. 3-Do you accept drop ins (I prefer they do not) 4-Can I drop by anytime of the day to see my baby. 

Also, when you go and see the daycare, what would raise a red flag for you? This is my first time and I am very afraid to leave him with anyone. Thanks a lot

I have a pdf file from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (www.naccrra) titled ''Is this the right place for my child'' -- 38 Research Based Indicators of High Quality Child Care. I'd be happy to share it with you but cannot attach the document to this response. Take care, Dana

I also put my daughter in a home daycare after staying home with her for a year. I was concerned about health so I looked around to see if the place seemed clean. I also looked at the outdoor play area to see if it seemed safe and had adequate space to run around. I brought my child with me to see how the provider reacted with her--whether they tried to engage her and seemed like they liked children, etc. In terms of questions, I asked
--what they fed the kids for lunch and snack--and specifically asked if they gave the kids juice or candy, which more than you think do
--what the schedule was
--what time they put the kids down for nap, what time they had snack/lunch, outdoor time
--how many kids were currently attending the place and their ages, and up to how many kids they would take
--whether they had any other adults helping take care of the children and if so could I meet them
--who else was living in the house and whether they had any other regular visitors during the hours my kid was going to be there and if so could I meet them
--whether they had pets (a question I actually did not ask but wish I had)
--whether they let the kids watch tv, which I did not want, but a lot of places allow
--references, particularly from people who are no longer there since they were more likely to be candid and have some perspective now that they were elsewhere, even if it's preschool
--whether they took after school kids as I preferred my child to be only with others close to her age hope this helps been there

I'd ask a lot of questions about the kind of schedule they have, the kinds of activities they do with the kids (do they read to them, do they have them all do the same things or allow them to choose, do they do art activities...), what they feed the kids, the philosophy they have about learning and what is good for kids, how they discipline the kids, and so on.

And, not a red flag, but something that happened to me in the interview of the person I chose as my daycare provider: Every comment she made was about what was or was not good for my child. Nothing was about her, nothing was about my schedule --everything was about what was good for him. I chose her. It's one of the best choices I ever made. Karen