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.
2018-2019 Applications: 2018-2019 Early Opportunity Scholarship (EOS), July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019, Deadline for APPLICATIONS: May 16, 2018
Who will receive the Scholarship?
• 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.
• Applicants must live in Westchester County
• Applicants must fall within the income guidelines listed below
• Applicants must be employed full time (minimum of 30 hours per week)
• Infants, Toddlers, Pre-schoolers must be enrolled full time in care of minimum of 30 hours a week
• School age children must be enrolled part time in care a minimum of 10 hours a week
• Children must be enrolled in a child care program/provider regulated by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) AND is nationally accredited OR has participated in one of the Council's quality improvement projects in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017 and received a high rating in one of their classrooms OR will agree to participate in an Environment Rating Scale program with the Council to be completed by July 2019 AND is located in Westchester County
If your child/ren is not in a program that meets the above requirements, you must move them to a program that does meet the requirements by July 1, 2018 to be eligible. Please call the Council's Referral Department at 914-761-3456 x140 for assistance in locating a program that meets these requirements.
Find your family size (parents and children living in your home), then check the chart to see if your family income qualifies you for a scholarship.
Early Opportunity Scholarship (EOS)
|2||$32,481 - $53, 592|
|3||$40,841 - $62, 485|
|4||$49,201 - $66, 420|
|5||$57,561 - $77, 706|
|6||$65,921 - $88, 992|
|7||$74,281 - $100, 278|
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 and Tuesdays until 7pm 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.
Council Initiative Improves Quality within 194 Child Care Settings in Westchester
A quality child care program ensures the health and safety of children, supports the building of positive relationships, and provides rich opportunities for learning. While many of Westchester's 760 regulated providers are working very hard and care about children, some do not realize how they are falling short.
So, the Child Care Council of Westchester stepped in, and over the course of 5 years, implemented and tracked 15 quality improvement projects with 194 child care center classrooms and family providers in Westchester County, delivering intensive technical assistance, modeling, coaching, training, and resources specific to the needs of each.
The Council utilized the Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) developed by the early childhood experts at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Only 23% of the initial program quality assessment scores were in the good to excellent quality range and 39% were "minimal quality" or worse. After a Council quality improvement specialist worked with the staff at each program over a period of months, the program quality assessment was re-administered, with dramatic results!
97%of participating programs/providers improved their quality scores
80%of the scores were in the good to excellent range
34%of the scores were in the very good to excellent range
Our quality improvement work continues on a regular basis through our extensive services to professional child care providers. Learn more about our services for Child Care Professionals.
The Science: Children are Born Learning
Quality early care and education makes such a tremendous impact on a child's life because, between birth and age five, the brain is extremely responsive to experience.
The messages a child gets during interactions with the environment and those around him/her create synapses ("connections") between neurons ("brain cells"), thus creating the structure of the brain. Synapses that are strengthened through repetition become permanent. The synapses that are not "excited" are pruned away. For example, a child who is rarely spoken to or read to in the early years may have trouble mastering language skills later on.
The Child Care Council of Westchester wants every child in Westchester to develop to his or her full potential by facilitating access to high quality care and education while parents are working.
In good child care situations, children are exposed to warm, loving interactions with caregivers, and talk, sing, read, play and explore objects and physical space – which are the best ways to stimulate brain development and promote the cognitive, language, motor and social-emotional skills that will prepare them for success in school, career and life.
Children are born learning and with the potential to be bright, healthy and successful, and to contribute to their communities. Support the Child Care Council and help us make that a reality.