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.