Co-ops & Childcare Exchanges


  • parent co-op is a school where parents work in the classroom on a regular basis, usually one morning a week, and also help to run and administer the school.
  • parent participation preschool is a program that is usually for younger children (under 3) that children and parents/caregivers attend together.
  • See Also: Co-ops with BPN Reviews ... K-12 Co-ops ... More Advice about Co-ops

Licensing Requirements for Co-ops

IF SOMEONE IS BEING PAID, such as a nanny, a teacher, or one of the parents, then the co-op needs to be licensed by the state's Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD).  BPN does not accept postings about programs that should be licensed but aren't.  For more information about what types of programs need a license, see About Childcare Licensing in California.  (Note: a license is not required for co-ops where parents exchange care-taking duty and no one is being paid, or where all children have a parent present at all times.)

Licensing rules for co-ops:

  1. Do all children have their parent present?

    • If the parent of every child is present the entire time, this is considered a Playgroup. Playgroups do not need to be licensed even if parents pay to attend the playgroup, and regardless of where the playgroup takes place. 

  2. Where does the co-op take place?

    • In the teacher's home:  This is considered a Family Daycare and the site must be licensed by CCLD. BPN doesn't accept postings about in-home childcare that is not licensed.

    • In one of the children's homes:  This is a Nanny Share as long as the nanny/teacher doesn't live in the home, and no license is required. However, if the hosting parent is supervising children, whether alone or with the help of a paid teacher, then the home needs to be licensed as a Family Daycare.

    • At a site that is not someone's home:  unless this is a Playgroup where all parents remain with their children, this is considered a Preschool or Childcare Center and the site must be licensed by CCLD. See Parent Co-operative and Parent Participation Preschools for a list of licensed programs reviewed by BPN subscribers. Also see Forest Schools in the next section.