When it comes to children, health and safety come first. Since most children in the United States under the age of six spend significant time in child care settings outside the home, child care providers play a very important role in their health.
To help you keep the children in your care healthy and respond to illnesses and emergencies that will inevitably present themselves, the Child Care Council offers the services of a professional Health Care Consultant.
What you need to know:
All child care and after school providers/programs are required to have a Health Care Plan. Our Health Care Consultant, Elissa Guzzardi, can walk you through the process of creating a useful, comprehensive plan with clear policies and procedures. We’ll make sure you’ve got everything you need to meet best practice standards, keep children healthy, stay up-to-date on the latest health news and developments, and demonstrate to parents that their children’s health and safety is your priority. Learn more about how Elissa can help you.
Beyond having a Health Care Plan, we recommend that all providers become approved through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to administer medication to children in a child care setting. To do so, you will need to compete a Medication Administration Training Course, among other things. Learn more about how to become approved.
The quality of care that children receive between birth and age 5 sets the stage for the rest of their lives. With that in mind, we want to help Westchester's child care professionals provide the very best care possible, and we do that in a variety of ways:
Technical Assistance and Quality Improvement Support
The Child Care Council provides a range of technical assistance services to current or prospective child care providers to help with a wide variety of topics. Learn more about Technical Assistance and Quality Improvement Support.
Beyond the basic regulations established by the New York State Office for Children and Family Services, accreditation by a national organization requires child care providers to meet a higher level of standards. The Child Care Council encourages all programs to pursue accreditation as one method of improving care.
The following organizations offer accreditation based on national quality standards:
A Degree in Early Childhood Education
Several colleges and universities in our area offer degrees in Early Childhood Education:
Directors Network Meetings
Share best practices with other Westchester child care program directors.
Westchester Early Childhood Directors Association Meetings:
School Age Directors Network (SADN):
The Network meets every third Tuesday of the month from 10:00 am -12 pm at the Child Care Council in Scarsdale. Call Hope O'Conell at (917) 617-0903 or Joanna Saporta at (914)238-3295 for details.
Attending a conference can be a great opportunity to learn from and network with peers from across the county, state or country.
New York State Conferences:
SCARSDALE, NY (March 2, 2015) –The Child Care Council of Westchester and the Westchester Children’s Association hosted a “town hall” at the YMCA in White Plains on February 28th, where young people lead a Q&A with County Legislators Benjamin Boykin, Catherine Borgia, Michael Smith and Alfreda Williams. Also present were Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, and Regent Harry Phillips, along with an audience of approximately 100 educators, child care professionals, community and non-profit leaders, and parents.
The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a way for child care professionals to substantially increase your knowledge of the early care and education best practices, demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the area of early childhood care and education, and advance your career in a meaningful way.
The nationally recognized CDA credential is awarded after:
- Successful completion of a 120 hour professional training program
- Demonstration of skills needed to work with children and their families
- Successful completion of a resource file
- Submission of a credential assessment application to the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C.
- Successful completion of a formal written and oral review by a representative from the Council for Professional Recognition
Successful completion means you are able to:
- Establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment
- Advance physical and intellectual competence
- Support social and emotional development and to provide positive guidance
- Establish positive and productive relationships with families
- Ensure a well-run, purposeful program that is responsive to participant needs
- Maintain a commitment to professionalism
There are two ways to obtain the CDA:
- Our online 120 hour eCDA training program – infant-toddler or pre-school or family – with some in-person support. This program can be started at any time.
- Our in-person 120 hour class for infant-toddler teachers that is held from September to June. Sponsored by the Westchester County Office for Women, there is no cost for this class.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have at least one (1) year’s work experience in a licensed child care program or nursery school
- Be able to speak, read and write in English fluently enough to fulfill the responsibilities of a CDA candidate
Participation in trainings and other professional development efforts is an important part of providing quality care and education. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services regulations require staff to receive 30 hours of training within each two years of a program's registration period with 15 hours completed in the first six months of employment.
The Child Care Council's Professional Development team of subject-matter experts offers a vast array of trainings and technical assistance for early care and education professionals to help you expand your skills, improve the quality of care you provide to children, and meet NYS licensing requirements.
- See the 2017 Fall Professional Development Training Calendar
- Register online for training courses
- Printable English Training Registration Form
- Printable Spanish Training Registration Form
The Child Care Council's Professional Development team brings the training to you, at a date and time that's convenient. We can train your entire staff, for a reasonable price. Membership and multi-session discounts apply.
Choose from a variety of topics (below), or request a topic of your choice:
- OCFS Regulations and procedures, including health and safety and child abuse prevention
- Program assessment
- Social/emotional development
- Infant and toddler and preschool development, behavior issues, and appropriate curriculum
- Partnering with parents
- Team building and stress management
- Early learning standards/assessments
- Behavior management/child development
- Working with children with special needs
- Child abuse identification and prevention
- Observation, assessment and document
In partnership with Child Care Aware of America, the Child Care Council now offers online training, designed specifically for early childhood professionals, in all NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) categories. You can create your own training package, and get OCFS training hours and/or earn Continuing Education Units (CEU) for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential renewal.
Courses are categorized by their primary New York State Office of Children & Family Services (NYS OCFS) training topic. For a complete list of available courses, click here.
See instructions to purchase online training.
For assistance between the hours of 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, call 1-800-261-6248.
Child Development Associate (CDA) Training
Earn the CDA credential to advance your career and make a difference in the lives of children who will benefit from your knowledge of early development and passion for quality care. Learn more about CDA Training.
Help Paying for Training
If you need financial assistance to meet your training obligations, we recommend you explore the
Educational Incentive Program.
To put it simply, whether you are just starting out or are well-established, you have two basic responsibilities when it comes to marketing your child care business: making sure parents know about it, and convincing them to choose yours over the competition.
Here are the basic elements of a good marketing plan:
Identify Your Target Audience
Once you know the age of children you provide services for, consider what geographic area you should market to. From how far away will parents travel to use your services? Is your program or center geared toward families with specific values or beliefs, financial circumstances, or curriculum preferences? Narrow down your potential customers as best as you can.
Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition
In order to convince parents that their child(ren) should be with you rather than another provider, you need to demonstrate what sets you apart and/or makes you better.
Does your child care program:
- Offer a specific educational curriculum?
- Provide supplemental activities such as language instruction or classes for parents?
- Employ staff who hold special credentials or have unusual skills or talents?
- Have accreditation, or has it achieved other awards that note exceptional quality?
Describe your business:
Whether you are preparing a brochure, writing text for a website, or describing your services verbally, you need to carefully define the features and benefits of your program.
When you talk about the features of your child care program, you are telling parents about all the basic, important details (just like you would describe features of a car). For example: days and hours you're open, class size, age of children you provide care for, whether meals or snacks are served, qualifications of staff, descriptions of the space, what the curriculum will be, etc.
When you talk about the benefits of your child care program, you are selling your unique child care services to parents. Focus on how you will improve or add value to the lives of children and their parents. For example: maybe parents will be able to relax knowing their child is in good hands, and get to work on time because you are reliable. Perhaps their child will flourish due to your exceptionally caring staff and creative learning opportunities.
It can be tempting to set your prices based on what you think parents can afford and/or what other providers are charging, but that's not the way to sustain a successful business. You need to make sure you have a firm understanding of all the costs associated with providing quality child care, and then set your fees based on those numbers. Otherwise, you will not be able to cover expenses, make a profit, or develop a financial reserve for unexpected expenses.
First, determine your expenses. Consider the following:
- Accounting services
- Cable, Internet and telephone service
- Child supplies and materials
- Employee wages, benefits and taxes
- Furniture and equipment
- Janitorial services and cleaning supplies
- Legal services
- Loan Payments
- Mortgage or rent payments, and property taxes
- Office supplies
- Professional Development and training
- Repairs and maintenance
- Travel expenses
Once you know your total monthly expenditures, you can determine how much income you need to cover those expenses. Then, considering how many children you realistically plan to care for, you can begin to think about setting rates.
For comparison, the following documents will give you a general idea of the fees currently charged by programs and providers in Westchester County:
- Average cost of child care in Westchester County
- Cost of child care in Westchester's largest towns and cities
We're here to help!
Call the Council at (914) 761-3456 x108 for additional information about the cost of care.
Parent Requests for Child Care 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.