How to Look Up License Info for Preschools & Daycare

As of Summer 2014, parents can view complaints, violations, and inspection dates online for all daycares, preschools, and childcare centers in California at the website for the California Childcare Licensing Division (CCLD).  Full inspection reports from April 2015 onward are also available online. For earlier inspection reports, either  View Records in Person or check the website for the  Center for Investigative Reporting which has scanned preschool and childcare center reports for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

License Violation How-To See Also

How to Look Up a Preschool or Daycare Online

If the daycare or preschool has reviews on BPN, go to the daycare's page and click on "License" in the top section, above the reviews to go to the CCLD's report for that facility. Find Daycares & Preschools on BPN.

You can also use the "Search" function at CCLD here:

Hints for searching the CCLD database:

  • First you will need to pick the correct Facility Type.  On BPN there are five types of facilities that we accept reviews for:
    1. "Child Care - Infant Center"   This is a large childcare center with its own site (not in someone's home) that accepts ages 0-5, often with a separate preschool, such as St. John's or Blue Skies for Children.
    2. "School Age Child Care Center"  This is an after school program for K-12 kids, such as the JCC or AdventureTime.
    3. "Child Care Center Preschool"  This is a preschool with its own site (not in someone's home) that typically accepts 3 and 4 year olds.
    4. "Family Child Care Home (Small)"  This is a daycare or preschool in someone's home that accepts 8 or fewer children.
    5. "Family Child Care Home (Large)"  This is a daycare or preschool in someone's home that accepts 9-14 children.

  • If you know the license number, this is the easiest way to look it up.  Enter the license number at the bottom of the form in the Facility Number box and click Search.

  • If you don't know the license number:
    • For a center or preschool that is not in someone's home (1-3 above), it's easiest to search on the Facility Name.
    • For home-based childcare (4 & 5 above), the Facility Name is always the owner's name. Try typing in the owner's last name for large daycares. For small daycares, the owner's name has to exactly match what CCLD has in its records, such as "Lastname, Firstname".  It is often easier to search on a Zip code or City, and then pick it out from the list of matching daycares.

  • If you just want to view all daycares or preschools in your area, search on Zip code or City.

What to Look For on CCLD's "Facility Detail" page

CCLD's "Facility Detail" page includes basic information about the daycare, and also a record of inspections, complaints, and citations. Here is some advice about what to pay attention to:

  • Complaints: Very few daycares and preschools that are reviewed on the BPN website have had any complaints filed. If the daycare or preschool you are researching has one or more substantiated complaints, find out the details from the local State Licensing Office - the contact info is on the Facility Detail. More than one substantiated complaint would be a very strong signal that there's a problem with the daycare. Not all parents go to the trouble to file a complaint - they just change daycares when there is a problem - so multiple complaints is a red flag and warrants additional research.

  • Citations: Type A citations are serious, and Type B citations are minor. A majority of daycares that are reviewed on the BPN website do not have any Type A citations. One or two Type B citations is not unusual, which may represent just a paperwork deficiency, such as failing to have an emergency contact form on hand for every child at the daycare. If you are concerned about Type B citations, ask the daycare about it, or contact your local State Licensing Office - see the Facility Detail for contact info. Multiple Type B citations may indicate a lack of organization at the daycare, which may or may not affect a parent's satisfaction with the daycare.   On the other hand, a Type A citation can indicate a serious safety violation at the daycare, such as more children present than the daycare is licensed for. Since the online database currently does not provide details about the nature of the violations, you should contact the State Licensing Office to learn more. Multiple citations for a daycare is very unusual and should be a strong warning sign that further research is needed.

  • Lic. Date This date is not always present but when it is, it can tell you how long the daycare has been operating. Just be aware that when a daycare moves to a different address, they will be assigned a new license number which resets the license date.

  • State Licensing Office Contact Information This is the address and phone number where you can get the details about citations and complaints for the daycare you are researching.

  • Inspection Reports  Full reports are available online only for inspections that took place April 2015 or later. If you want to view reports before April 2015, you'll need to call or visit the State Licensing Office shown on the Facility Detail. 

How to View Records in Person

Your child's childcare provider is required to keep 3 year's worth of any confirmed violations and show them to you if you ask. If you want to check a daycare or preschool that your child doesn't attend, you can look it up in the CCLD Database or optionally call/visit the Regional Office and ask to review the daycare's file. See Facility File Review on the CCLD website.

Here is the information for Alameda and Contra Costa counties:

1515 Clay Street, Suite 1102, MS 29-04
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 622-2602
FAX (510) 622-2641 

For other California counties, see List of Child Care Program Offices (PDF file from CCLD).

Note: Until recently (June 2014), California was one of the few states that did not make this information available online. Here is a Jan 2014 report about this by the Center for Investigative Reporting: