Like any business, operating a successful child care business requires careful planning and a lot of hard work. You should first seek to learn about the market; that is, determine the child care needs of families in the location you want to serve, and then clearly define who your customers will be, how you can best meet their needs, and how you will market your services to them. Find out who your competition is, and what you may be able to learn from them. Figure out how much it will cost you to provide quality services, and in turn what fees you will charge and how much you will pay your employees, if you have any.
Whether your plan is to open a child care center or school age program, or start providing family or group family child care, the Child Care Council is here to help you succeed.
To help you get started:
The need for care: The Council continuously monitors enrollment levels and the financial state of regulated child care businesses in the county.
Read our latest status report
Learn what Westchester parents are looking for: More than 4,000 families contact the Child Care Council each year for child care referrals. We track and compile these information requests, to help new providers plan early care and education programs, and to help existing providers stay current or make thoughtful adjustments.
Parent Requests for Child Care
Update your information in our Parent Referral Database
Cost of Care and What to Charge:
New child care professionals often struggle with what fees to charge. The Council has compiled a list of expenses for you to consider, as well as information about the average cost of care in our county.
Marketing Your Program:
After you have researched the need for care in your area and have decided to open a child care program, you need to market it. The goal is to operate with every available space full, and have the security of a waiting list. The Council can help you develop a plan.
When it comes to offering child care and early education services, you have a variety of options to choose from, based on the age of the children and the times of day and location where you will provide care, among other things. We're here to help you make an educated decision.
In New York State there are 4 types of child care settings regulated by the Office for Children and Family Services, and 4 that are not. While you are free to decide what type of care you will offer, you should be aware that the Child Care Council of Westchester recommends that parents place their child(ren) in regulated care whenever possible.
Regulated Child Care Settings:
Child Care Centers
Child Care Centers provide group care for children for more than 3 hours a day in a non-residential setting. Children are typically grouped by age. In New York State centers are licensed by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services (NYS OCFS). Minimum standards must be met for staffing, group size and basic health and safety. Care may be provided for children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age.
School Age Programs
School age care is care for children aged 5 years to 12 years in the out-of-school hours. This type of care can be found in a free standing building, a public or private school setting, as well as in recreation centers, religious institutions, child care centers, or family child care homes. Care may be provided before and/or after school and sometimes during vacations and holidays. Most programs operate on a school-year calendar.
Family Child Care
Family child care providers offer care in a residential setting. This is typically a mixed age group setting. Some providers offer part-time, weekend, overnight and evening care options; flexible schedules, and the option to allow siblings to stay together. Care may be provided for children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age.
Group Family Child Care
Group family child care is similar to family child care however more children may be enrolled when an additional caregiver is present. Group providers are licensed by New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
See the New York State regulations for child care centers, school age programs, family child care, and group family child care: Child Care Centers
Non-Regulated Child Care Settings:
Legally Exempt Providers
Also known as "informal provider" or "kith and kin" care, these providers are often friends, relatives or neighbors who watch one or two children in addition to their own. Legally exempt providers may contract with the local Department of Social Services to receive public subsidy for the children enrolled in their program. Call the Council at (914) 761-3456 x115 to learn more about legally exempt care.
Nursery School/Preschool Programs
Nursery schools provide care where children are in attendance for no more than 3 hours per day in a nonresidential setting. Nursery schools typically enroll children aged 2.9 to 5 years of age and often run on a school-year calendar. Some nursery schools voluntarily register with the New York State Education Department or become an OCFS licensed child care center.
In-Home Care Provider
An in-home care provider may live with a family or travel to the family's home each day. In-home providers are not regulated in New York State. In 1998, Kierans's Law took effect, allowing parents to access New York State criminal history information about potential in-home caregivers. Learn more about Kieran's Law.
Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs may be offered by local school districts to eligible four-year-old children. These programs are voluntary for both school districts and children and are regulated by the New York State Department of Education.
If you have questions about the different types of child care, contact the Referral Department at (914) 761-3456 x140
If you are interested in establishing a new child care center, home-based child care business, or school-aged program, we want to help you.
First, it’s important to understand that many existing child care programs and providers have openings, and are finding it difficult to enroll children. So, for you to succeed, you will need a complete understanding of business principles, including finances; New York State regulations; and marketing, in addition to the programmatic side of the business.
We urge you to review all of the related information in our website, and ask Council staff any additional questions you may have, before you attend the mandatory NYS information session or the Council’s optional one. Start here.
Mandatory Info Session For Family, Group/Family, Center, and School Age Child Care
If you intend to open a child care center, family child care program, group family child care program, or school age child care program, you must take an online or attend a mandatory start-up information session hosted by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services. For information and to watch the orientation video, go to http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/becomeaprovider.asp. The Child Day Care Center orientation is only available online.
The Council hosts the sessions for family child care programs and school age child care programs. There is no charge to attend.
Optional Business Info Session for Child Care Centers
The Child Care Council offers an additional non-mandatory information session to introduce you to the critical business-related aspects of starting a child care center, including the need for care in the area, budgeting, quality programming, developing a program philosophy, staff requirements, and regulations.
Cost for session: $85
One-on-One professional assistance is also available for a fee of $75/hour.
Any child care program that serves 3 or more non-related children for more than 3 hours a day on a regular basis must obtain a license or registration from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). To obtain either a license or registration, the applicant must show that the child care program meets requirements that the state has established to help ensure the health and safety of children in care.
The Council offers regular training sessions on child care program regulations. Learn more and see the schedule in the Professional Development Calendar.
Whether you have an established program, recently launched, or are thinking about becoming a child care provider, we’re pleased to provide you with the resources you need to be successful and provide the highest quality care.
Follow the links below to get started:
Training for Child Care Professionals
A comprehensive calendar of offerings to learn best practices and meet the NYS Office of Children & Family Services requirements.
Quality Improvement Opportunities
Accreditation, technical assistance, certification opportunities, and more.
Health Care Consultant Services and Information
Health care consultant services, medication requirements and health policies/practices info.
The Business of Child Care
What parents are looking for, the cost of care throughout the county, and marketing information.
The Different Types of Child Care in Westchester
Summaries of regulated and non-regulated care options.
Starting A Child Care Program
Information about establishing a new child care center, home-based child care business, or school-aged program.
Careers In Child Care
As part of our efforts to make high quality early care and education available to every child in Westchester, we’re pleased to help connect child care providers and job seekers.
Child care in Westchester is expensive, and we know that many families have trouble making ends meet. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you pay for child care.
First and foremost, we want to make sure you know what to expect, and that the child care options you're considering are priced reasonably.
Click here to download a document that outlines the cost of child care:
Next, when it comes time to choose a child care provider, be certain you understand what the fees are, and exactly what those fees include or cover, including hours of care, snacks or meals, supplies, transportation, meals, late pickups, and field trips. Providers may impose penalties for late payments, and some charge whether or not a child is present. Ask how often fees will be raised, and by how much.
Several financial resources and benefits are available to help families understand and manage the high cost of child care:
Public Child Care Subsidies: Many low income working families in Westchester are eligible for assistance to pay for child care. Review the charts below to see if you meet the income requirements for the Low Income Child Care Subsidy or the Title XX Child Care Subsidy. However, at this time Title XX Child Care Subsidy is not available due to the lack of funding. This information is applicable from June 1, 2017 - May 31, 2018.
|Family Size||Low Income Subsidy||
Title XX Subsidy
|2||<$32,480||$32,481 - $44,660|
|3||<$40,840||$40,841 - $52,071|
|4||<$49,200||$49,201 - $55,350|
|5||<$57,560||$57,561 - $64,755|
|6||<$65,920||$65,921 - $74,160|
|7||<$74,280||$74,281 - $83,565|
|8||<$82,640||$81,641 - $92,970|
The Child Care Council can help you determine which subsidy you may qualify for and assist you with your application. Call (914) 761-3456 ext. 140.
Child Care Scholarships: The Child Care Council of Westchester offers a limited number of scholarships. At this time, the 2016-2017 scholarship program is closed. The scholarships typically cover the months from July to June. The next scholarship is expected to be open again in March or April 2017. If you would like to be placed on a mailing list please click here to Submit A Request.
Tax Benefits: There are several tax benefits and programs that can put more money in your hands to pay for child care.
Dependent Care Assistance Program: DCAP is a flexible spending account that your employer may offer to help you pay for your child or dependent care expenses. You can set aside up to $5,000 of your annual income to help cover the cost of child care, elder care, or care for a disabled spouse or dependent.
New York State Public Benefits: Taking advantage of public benefit programs can improve families' overall economic situation and free up resources that can be used for child care. Visit the link below and use the pre-screening tool to see what health and human services programs you may be eligible for.
- The families with infants and toddlers (under the age of 3 years old) will receive priority for the scholarship.
- If funds are available, families with preschool age children (3- 4 years old who are not yet in elementary school) will be considered next.
- If there are still funds available, families with school age children (5 – 12 years old) will be considered.
How to Choose the Right Care For Your Family
Undoubtedly, you have discovered that there are many options for child care in your area. We recommend that you be as thorough as possible in your research, so you can be confident that you’ve chosen the right child care option.
First, call and ask some basic questions, such as:
- Is there an opening for my child?
- What is the daily program/routine?
- Does the provider follow a curriculum?
- What are the qualifications (education and experience) of the caregivers?
- Is there much staff turnover?
- How many children does the provider care for/what is the class size?
- What are the ages of the children in the group?
- What are the fees, and what do they include?
- What are the hours? What happens on holidays and vacation days?
- Is the provider accredited by a national organization?
Hopefully, the answers to those questions will help you narrow down your options. Next, you should visit the providers you are most interested in, to get a feeling for each in person.
Before you visit providers, review these informative documents:
When it’s time to visit providers, we recommend you:
- Visit at least 3 potential programs/providers
- Bring this checklist of important questions (English) with you or this checklist of important questions (Spanish)
- Make sure there are children present when you visit, so you can see how staff interacts with them
- Allow 30-45 minutes per visit
Before you commit to a program or sign a contract, you should:
- Review the provider’s Parent Handbook, if one is available
- Make sure you understand the pricing, and whether you qualify for financial assistance to help pay for care. Learn more about Paying For Care.
The first step to choosing the right child care option for your family is to find out what's available to you. The Child Care Council offers three ways for you to get referrals to child care providers in Westchester:
Search our Database
Search our database 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to find child care centers, family and group family child care homes, school age programs, and some nursery schools in Westchester County.
Do an e-Child Care Search (Spanish).
Note: To search for In-Home Care or Camps you will need to use an online form or call us.
Submit an Online Form
Fill out the online form and click to send. A Child Care Specialist will review the information and email you referrals within two business days.
Submit an Electronic Form.
Note: If you haven't received an email from us with referrals within 2 business days, please check your spam folder.
Call the Child Care Council at (914) 761-3456 x140 or 1-844-387-7525. For Services in Spanish, dial x122.
Child Care Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm to help you make an informed decision about child care.
There are several different types of child care available to you. The Child Care Council of Westchester recommends that parents select regulated care whenever possible.
In New York State there are four types of child care settings regulated by the Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS):
- 1. Child Care Centers – Care for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years of age, for more than 3 hours per day in a non-residential setting. Minimum standards must be met for staffing, group size and basic health and safety.
- 2. School Age Programs – For children 5-12 years old during out-of-school hours, including before/after school and sometimes during school vacations and holidays. This type of care may be found in a free standing building, a public or private school setting, recreation centers and religious institutions.
- 3. Family Child Care – For children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age, in a residential setting. Some providers offer part-time, weekend, overnight and evening care options, flexible schedules, and the option to allow siblings to stay together. Typically a mixed-age-group setting.
- 4. Group Family Child Care – Group family child care is similar to family child care; more children may be enrolled when an additional caregiver is present.
Beyond OCFS guidelines, accreditation by a national organization requires that programs meet a higher standard than state regulation, offering the kind of care, attention, and educational activities that aid a child's growth and development. If you would like to see a list of accredited programs and providers, please call (914) 761-3456 x140.
Care settings that are not regulated by OCFS include:
- Legally Exempt Providers – Also known as "informal providers" or "kith and kin" care, these providers are often friends, relatives or neighbors who watch one or two children in addition to their own.
- Nursery School/Preschool Programs – Nursery schools provide care where children are in attendance for no more than 3 hours per day in a nonresidential setting.
- In-home Care Providers – An in-home care provider may live with a family or travel to the family's home each day, often known as a nanny. In 1998, Kierans's Law took effect, allowing parents to access New York State criminal history information about potential in-home caregivers. Learn more about Kieran's Law.
- Universal Pre-K – Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs may be offered by local school districts to eligible four-year-old children, and are regulated by the New York State Department of Education.
We know that when it comes to child care, you have many different options, and a lot of variables to consider. It can be a bit overwhelming! The Child Care Council of Westchester is here to serve you with a variety of FREE services for families with young children, including children with special needs.
Parents, we're here to help you:
- Understand what quality child care is
- Find and evaluate child care programs
- Explore financial resources, like scholarships, public subsidies and tax benefits
- File a complaint about a child care program
Learn About the Different Types of Child Care
We recommend all parents choose a child care program that is regulated by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS). These regulations cover basic health and safety issues, limit the number of children each adult cares for, define the required training hours and topics that providers must take, and ensure periodic inspections and monitoring. Learn more about the types of regulated and non-regulated care.
Find Child Care
We offer many different ways for you to search for child care providers in Westchester County.
How to Choose the Best Child Care For Your Family
With so many options for child care available in Westchester, it can be difficult to sort through your options. The Council's guidelines and checklists can help.
Paying for Child Care
We want to make sure you understand what your child care dollars cover, and that you're aware of what financial resources might be available to help cover the cost of care.
We know that quality child care is far from your only challenge or responsibility. The Child Care Council is here to help connect Westchester parents with whatever education, support and resources you need.
In our efforts to ensure quality early care and education for every child in Westchester, the Child Care Council offers services to families, child care professionals and employers.
Choosing a child care provider is a decision that will affect the rest of your child's life. Whether you seek full-or part-time care, or if it's during the day, after school, or during the summer or holidays, it is our goal is to assist you in making the best decision for your family, to make sure your child is safe, healthy, happy and learning. We know that affordability and location may be important concerns, but there are other critical things to consider.
For Child Care Professionals
The Child Care Council is a one-stop resource for professionals in all segments of the early care and education community in Westchester, here to help you provide high quality child care, run a successful business, and meet your legal obligations.
Some of our services for child care professionals are complimentary, others are available only to members. Learn more about membership in the Child Care Council of Westchester.
For Westchester employers
The Council serves the Westchester County business community by providing resource and referral information for working parents, so they can be more present and productive on the job, and by ensuring today's children grow into tomorrow's well-prepared workforce.