Types of Child Care

Listed below are brief descriptions of the most common types of child care programs in New York State. Some of these programs are regulated by the NYS Office of Children & Family Services.  Anyone caring for more than three unrelated children for more than three hours per day may need to be registered or licensed.  The regulating authority, if any, is listed in the description for each type of care.  Additional information can also be found at the NYS Office of Children & Family Services website.

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. Child Care Centers are licensed through the NYS Office of Children & Family Services and may be accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The maximum child-to-caregiver ratio allowed by New York State is:

Age of Children Group Size Ratio # children per caregiver
6 weeks to 18 months 8 4
18 to 36 months 12 5
3 years 18 7
4 years 21 8
5 years 24 9
6 - 9 years 20 10
10 - 12 years 30 15

 

 

 

 

 

 


Registered Family Child Care
Registered Family Child Care is provided in a home-based setting, typically for three 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. The maximum capacity depends upon the number of infants in care.  Family Child Care programs are be registered through the NYS Office of Children & Family Services. Family Child Care programs may be accredited through the National Association of Family Child Care.

The maximum child-to-caregiver ratio allowed by New York State is:

Age of Children Group Size Ration # of children per caregiver
6 weeks - 2 years 2 2
2 - 5 years 6 6
5 - 12 years 2 2


Licensed Group Family Child Care
Licensed Group Family Child Care is provided in a home-based 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 Child Care programs are licensed through the NYS Office of Children & Family Services and may be accredited through the National Association of Family Child Care.

The maximum child-to-caregiver ratio allowed by New York State is:

Age of Children Group Size Ratio # children per caregiver
6 weeks - 2 years 4 2
2 - 5 years 12 6
5 - 12 years 2 1

 

 

 

 

School-Age Child Care
Care is provided for a group of school-age children from kindergarten through age twelve before and after school and at times when school is not in session. Many school-age programs provide care during school vacation periods and holidays. School-age child care may be provided by child care centers, family child care homes, public schools, youth recreation groups, religious organizations, and other community groups. School-Age Child Care programs are registered through the NYS Office of Children & Family Services and may be accredited through the National Afterschool Association.

The maximum child-to-caregiver ratio allowed by New York State is:

Age of Children Group Size Ratio # children per caregiver
Kindergarten - 9 years 20 10
10 - 12 years 30 15

 

 

 


Legally Exempt Child Care
Legally Exempt Child Care is often referred to as Informal Child Care or "babysitting.”  Care is for one or two children at a time in addition to the provider's children, usually in the provider's home. Legally Exempt Child Care providers are not required to become licensed or registered with the NYS Office of Children & Family Services.

In-Home Child Care
These providers may also be referred to as a "Nanny” or "Au Pair” and care is provided in the child’s home.  There is no limit to the number of children which can be cared for as long as all children in care reside in the home where the care is provided.  In-Home Child Care providers are not required to become licensed or registered with the NYS Office of Children & Family Services.  

Nursery School / Preschool
Educational and social programs are typically 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 & 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.

Summer Day Camp
Are programs that operate during the summer months and are typically monitored by the  NYS Department of Health.

If you have questions about the various types of legal child care contact Katy Pinkerton at the St. Lawrence Child Care Council by phone at (315) 393-6474