Child Care Options

There are many types of child care programs in New York State. Child care programs regulated by New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) must meet specific health, safety and program requirements. Some caregivers may not be required to meet state regulations to legally provide care.

Regulated Child Care Options:

Day Care Centers: more than six children at a time, not in someone’s home, for more than three hours a day.  The minimum ratios of staff to children can be found here.

Family Day Care Homes: three to six children, in a home, for more than three hours a day.  One or two more children may come after school.

Group Family Day Care: seven to 12 children in a home, with the help of an assistant, for more than three hours a day.  Two or four more children may come after school.

Head Start: targeted for preschool-age children. Federally funded program and licensed as a day care center and provides additional services to children and families.

School-age Child Care: seven or more children (kindergarteners through 12 year olds) during non-school hours. The minimum ratios of staff to children can be found here.

Child care providers and child care staff regulated by the NYS Office of Children and Family services must:

  • Complete a criminal background clearance
  • Submit a Statewide Central Register Database Check used to determine if that person is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment
  • Undergo inspection
  • Have prior experience caring for children
  • Receive 30 hours of training every two years in areas such as safety, nutrition, and child abuse prevention
  • Meet requirements required by NYS OCFS to administer medication
  • Limit the number of children each adult cares for based on the regulations

Check out Child Care 101 – common questions and answers about child care.

Other Forms of Legal Child Care

Nursery Schools: a program that is not in someone’s home that cares for children three hours a day or less. Nursery schools often follow a school year schedule.

Pre-Kindergarten Programs: offered by many public schools for 4 to 5 year old children during the school year.  Supervised by the State Education Department.

Informal Care: care provided by a child’s relative, a family, friend or neighbor who watches one or two children not related to the caregiver, but never more than a total of eight children. Not required to register.

In-home Care: when a caregiver comes to your home to watch your children.  The caregiver is an employee of the parent.

Summer Day Camp: a program or facility that operates during the summer months and is typically monitored by Department of Health guidelines.

For more information on child care options or child day care regulations contact:

Delaware Opportunities Inc.
Child Care Resource & Referral
35430 State Hwy. 10
Hamden, NY 13782
607-746-1620
Toll free: 877-746-2279
Fax: 607-746-1648
daycare@delawareopportunities.org

Contact New York State Office of Children and Family Services
Albany Regional Office
Room 309 South Building
52 Washington Street
Rensselaer, NY 12144
518-402-3038
www.ocfs.ny.gov