Types of Child Care
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