Child Care Options
Day care centers, school-age child care, group family day care, and family day care programs are regulated by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and must be registered or licensed to operate. All regulated programs must have on display or have readily available their registration or license.
The staff and providers of child care programs 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.
-Have three satisfactory references
-Meet specific credential and/or work experience requirements
-Meet requirements required by NYS OCFS to administer medication
-Limit the number of children each adult cares for based on standards set in the regulations.
For more information on basic child care regulations or common questions & answers about child care see Child Care 101 or visit the Office of Children and Family Services website to view all child care regulations.
Regulated Child Care:
-Family Day Care
-Group Family Day Care
-Child Care Center
-School-Age Child Care
Other Early Childhood Programs:
-Summer Day Camp
-Informal/Legally Exempt Child Care
Regulated Child Care Options:
Family Day Care
Registered family day care is provided in the home setting for up to six children including the provider’s own (provider’s own children are only included until they enter Kindergarten) with an expanded capacity to serve two more school-age children. Family child care programs must be registered through NYS Office of Children and Family Services if care is provided for three or more children. Family Day Care programs may be accredited through the National Association of Family Child Care or the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
If care is provided for only two children in a home setting, the program is legally-exempt from state licesing/registration.
Group Family Day Care
Licensed group family day care is provided in the home setting by a primary caregiver and an assistant for up to twelve children including the provider’s own (provider’s own children are only included until they enter Kindergarten) with an expanded capacity to serve four more school age children. Group Family Day Care programs are licensed through NYS Office of Children and Family Services and may be accredited through the National Association of Family Child Care or National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Child Care Center
Center based care is provided for a group of children for more than three hours per day, not in a personal residence, which must meet state licensing regulations for facility, health, safety, staffing and its educational program. In addition to becoming state licensed, child care centers may be accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Age of Children Staff/Child Ratio Maximum Group Size
6 weeks to 18 months 1:4 8
18 to 36 months 1:5 12
3 years 1:7 18
4 years 1:8 21
5 years 1:9 24
6 to 9 years 1:10 20
10 to 12 years 1:15 30
Head Start is a federally funding program for children that meets 4-5 times per week during the school year. Head Start children must be at least 3 years old and not eligible to attend public school at the time of application. All Head Start centers must be licensed by NYS Office of Children and Family Services and must meet licensing requirements for facility, health, safety, staffing and education.
School-Age Child Care
School Age Child Care is provided for a group of school-age children from Kindergarten through age 12 years old before and after school and at times when school is not in session. School-age child care may be provided by child care centers, family child care homes, public schools, recreation groups, religious organizations, and other community groups. School-age child care programs are registered through through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and may be accredited through the National After-School Association.
Other Early Childhood Program/Options:
Educational and social programs are provided for three to five year olds for less than three hours per day, two to five times per week and often follow a school year schedule. Preschools, which operate more than three hours per day, are required to become licensed through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. Preschools operated by public or private schools are exempt from licensing. Preschools may voluntarily register with the NYS Education Department which sets guidelines for facility, staff and program.
The NYS Department of Education funds and supervises pre-kindergarten programs for 4 year olds in some school districts during the school year. Programs are usually located in public schools, but can also be found in private schools or child care centers.
Summer Day Camp
A program or facility that operates during the summer months and is typically monitored by Department of Health guidelines.
Care provided by a relative or non-relative within a child’s home. The caregiver is an employee of the parent. Kieran’s Law allows parents and guardians of children to access New York State criminal history information regarding potential in-house caregivers being considered for employment. Kieran’s Law applies only to caregivers (e.g., nannies, babysitters) who will be providing child care in the child's home for 15 hours or more per week. For more information on Kieran’s Law, click here.
Informal/Legally Exempt Child Care
Care by a friend, family member, relative or neighbor in a personal residence for up to two children not directly related to the provider. This type of care is exempt from registration.
All in The Family
For more information on child care options or regulations:
Contact a Daycare Specialist:
9AM to 5PM at
Delaware Opportunities Inc.
35430 State Highway 10
Hamden, NY 13782
Toll free at 877-746-2279
New York State Office of Children and Family Services
Albany Regional Office
Room 309 South Building
52 Washington Street
Rensselaer, NY 12144