The state of California has a myriad of free, low-cost, or discounted car seat programs. From fire stations to county health departments to private organizations, there are many programs across the state to help families obtain a safety seat for their child.
Here, you’ll find a comprehensive, researched, and verified list of car seat programs and resources for California.
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CALIFORNIA CAR SEAT PROGRAMS
Who’s Got Car Seats?
The California Office of Traffic Safety has done the work for you and created Who’s Got Car Seats, a county-based directory that gives resources and information for car seat education and distribution. This should be your first resource in your search for a free or low-cost car seat.
Police and Fire Stations
While most of the individual California police department and California fire department websites don’t state it outright, they do have access to free or low-cost car seat replacements for families. California Highway Patrol also has similar resources. Many stations offer free car seat checks with or without an appointment, and at that appointment, they can help you obtain a replacement car seat for free in exchange for your old or expired seat.
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CITY AND COUNTY CAR SEAT PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA
The Amador County Public Health Department is able to offer free or reduced-price car seats to qualifying families through their partnership with the Safe Kids Amador Car Seat Program. Availability is not guaranteed, and you’ll have to contact the county to schedule an appointment and see if you need to provide proof of financial need.
The Butte County Public Health Kids in Safe Seats Program has a free 2-hour car seat class for county residents. In conjunction with the class, there are car seats and booster seats for qualifying low-income families.
Colusa County Public Health Child Safety Seat Program spearheads a partnership with Family Action Centers and First 5 Colusa to hold monthly classes for $20. Participating families may qualify for a free car seat, but you must register and pay for the class at least 3 days in advance.
The Fresno County Child Ride Safe Program gives low-income families in Fresno County the opportunity to complete a 3-hour class and receive a new car seat. A $25 fee for the class is required.
The Kern County Public Health Services Car Passenger Safety Program is an educational program that offers a free car seat. Kern County residents must complete online education classes based on your child’s age, then you can fill out a form and receive a free car seat and free personalized consulation with a trained car seat technician.
The Merced County Department of Public Health Child Passenger Safety Program has classes monthly for a $25 fee. Qualifying families can get one free car seat with the class, and additional car seats are available for $25.
The Orange County Health Care Agency Car Seat Safety Program offers free car seats for those low-income families on public assistance, such as WIC, Medi-Cal, AFDC, etc. Families can get help with car seat installation and education as well. The OC Health Agency has also compiled a helpful list of car seat resources for the OC area at large.
The Plumas County Public Health Agency Car Seat Program can issue a free car seat to eligible families. To qualify, you must meet their specific requirements, such as completing car seat education and installation of the car seat by a certified car seat technician.
San Bernadino County
San Bernadino County’s Car Seat Safety Program has brand new car seats at low cost. Families must meet eligibility requirements and complete a car seat safety class.
Santa Clara County
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department offers education on car seat safety as well as additional services to low-income families already receiving public assistance. While it doesn’t state outright on their website that free or discounted car seats are part of those services, other agencies in California have them listed as a free car seat resource.
Santa Cruz City
The Child Passenger Safety Resources department for the City of Santa Cruz offers free car seats. To qualify, you must have proof of low income or a referral from another community agency. Car seats are limited and appointments are required.
Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz County’s Health Services Agency’s SEATS for KIDS Program is run through the Central Fire District. Low-income families may receive a low-cost car seat with a $15-$30 donation. There are two locations: north Santa Cruz County and south Santa Cruz County.
Shasta County Health and Human Services Department offers two ways to receive free or discounted car seats. The first way is by taking a car seat safety class and proving low-income status in order to receive a low-cost car seat. The second way to earn a free car seat is by attending 3 CPSP classes. For this second way, only pregnant women on Medi-Cal are eligible. For both ways, you must call to qualify and pre-register.
Solano County Car Seat Connection is run by the Health Promotion and Community Wellness Bureau. Solano County residents with low income may receive a gift certificate for the purchase of a car seat. They also have lots of free educational resources on car seat safety.
Keep Baby Safe from the Tuolumne County Public Health office offers car seat education classes where participants can receive a $20 gift card toward a new car seat at Walmart. You must call to register.
The Yolo County Car Seat Safety Program has a program where families can have a one-on-one appointment with a child passenger safety technician. Families already receiving AFDC, CHDP, Medi-Cal or WIC benefits qualify for a low-cost car seat as part of the program.
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HOSPITAL, CLINIC, AND HEALTH CENTER CAR SEAT PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA
Children’s Health of Orange County (CHOC)
The CHOC Child Safety Seat Distribution Program is for CHOC patients that have been referred by their doctor. Car seats and booster seats are available to families that show financial need in regards to purchasing a safe car seat. A car seat or booster seat is available for $30 after completion of the car seat distribution class.
Camarena Health’s Car Seat Program offers in-depth car seat education classes for all. Prenatal patients are eligible to receive a free car seat once they complete the classes and demonstrate an understanding on how to properly use the car seat.
Family Health Centers of San Diego
Patients enrolled in the FHCSD Prenatal Program may be eligible for a free car seat. Families must schedule an appointment for a car seat education class with one of San Diego County’s certified child passenger safety technicians.
Venice Family Clinic
For low-income families in LA County, Venice Family Clinic offers periodic car seat safety classes. This class can include a free car seat for eligible families.
St. Mary’s Medical Center
Dignity Health’s Welcome Baby Program has referrals to free or low-cost baby essentials, including car seats, for pregnant women in LA County.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
CHLA has virtual car seat safety classes twice monthly and a free car seat for those families receiving public assistance. You may only take the class once and you must pre-register.
St Francis Medical Center
Families receiving public assistance may complete one of St. Francis’s free virtual car seat classes and receive a free car seat. Classes are held throughout the year, contact them to get dates and to register.
East Valley Community Health Center
EVCHC has free virtual car seat safety classes for new or expecting parents. Families can get a free car seat if they meet certain qualifications and successfully complete the class.
Whittier Hospital has an all-encompassing maternity services department. Patients delivering at the hospital will receive one complimentary rear-facing car seat and even a new diaper bag.
UC Davis Health
The Injury Prevention department at UC Health has free many virtual car seat services. One of these services is a free car seat for qualifying families on public assistance. Families must schedule a virtual appointment to receive a free car seat.
COMMUNITY CAR SEAT PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA
First 5 LA
New Economics for Women’s (NEW) Child Passenger Safety Program has a NEW Child Passenger Safety Seat Workshop at two locations in LA County. Families that meet the income requirements and complete the class will receive a free car seat.
Clinic in the Park’s Boosters in a Bag
Parents referred to the Boosters in a Bag Program will complete a short but in-depth online course and receive a booster seat for free. Contact their office to find out how to join the program without a referral.
Pacific Safety Center
Pacific Safety Center’s Keep Em Safe Program, located in San Diego, provides free car seats for low or median-income families, active-duty military families, Native American families, or refugee women who are at least 8 months pregnant. Eligible families can have children up to the age of 9 to qualify for a free car seat.
In conjunction with Solano County Health, the Solano Car Seat Connection offers car seat safety classes by appointment. Eligible families can receive vouchers for the purchase of a low-cost car seat.
Safe Kids Sacramento
Low-income families already enrolled in public assistance programs may qualify for a low-cost or even free car seat upon completion of an online class from Safe Kids Sacramento.
River to Coast Children’s Centers
The Car Seat Safety Program at River to Coast Children’s Centers offers safety training and education by certified car seat technicians. They also have car seats available for families in need at a cost of $20 per car seat. Booster seats are also available and cost less than car seats.