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There are many types of legal child care programs in New York State.  Each type of program is required to limit the number of children each adult can care for based on regulation. Limiting the group size and regulating requirements for the number of children that can be cared for by one adult, ensures that children are properly supervised and are getting an appropriate amount of attention.

The following types of child care programs are licensed or registered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services:

  • Family Child Care Homes are registered to care for six or fewer children ages six weeks through twelve years, plus an additional two school-age children in a family home.  There must be one caregiver for every two children under the age of two years that are present.
  • Group Family Child Care Homes are licensed to care for twelve or fewer children ages six weeks through twelve years plus an additional four school-age children in a family home.  There must be one approved assistant present whenever more than seven children are present and none of the children are of school-age or when nine children are present and at least two children in care are school-age. There must be one caregiver for every two children present under the age of two years.
  • Day Care Centers are licensed to care for more than six children ages six weeks through twelve years in a facility that is not a personal residence.
    Child's Age Staff to Child Ratio Maximum Capacity
    6 weeks to 18 months 1 to 4 8
    18 to 36 months 1 to 5 12
    3 years 1 to 7 18
    4 years 1 to 8 21
    5 years 1 to 9 24
    6 through 9 years 1 to 10 20
    10 to 12 years 1 to 15 30
  • School-Age Child Care Programs generally care for school-age children from Kindergarten through age twelve. They provide care for children during non-school hours, school vacations, and school holidays. For school-age children through nine years, the staff to child ratio is 1 to 10, with a maximum group size of twenty children. For children ten years through twelve years, the ratio is 1 to 15, with a maximum group size of thirty children. When a school-age child care program cares for children in groups including children both over and under 10 years of age, the staff/child ratio used must be that ratio applicable to the youngest child in the group.
Parent involvement is very important to quality child care. A parent has the right to stop in at any time to visit their child’s day care program. A parent should visit their child’s day care program often and have a good idea of how things are going for their child in that program.
The health and safety of children enrolled in a child care program is the number one consideration for a parent. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services sets minimum health and safety standards that must be maintained for each type of child care program.  A few areas for a parent to consider regarding health and safety of a child care program are:
·        Can the children be seen and heard at all timed, even naptime?
·        Is there fencing or another sturdy barrier to keep children away from unsafe areas?
·        What is the provider’s plan for fire emergencies
·        Does the provider encourage good health habits and take steps to prevent the spread of germs?
·        Is the caregiver authorized to administer medication to the children if the need arises?
·        Meals and snacks include nutritious foods and menus are posted or given to parents ahead of time.
 
It is very important that a caregiver have experience, education and/or training in caring for children. Regulated child care providers must have prior experience caring for children and must receive ongoing training in areas such as safety, nutrition, and child abuse.
Some child care programs may choose to obtain a state or national accreditation. This means that the program has agreed to maintain a higher standard of quality. For information on the types of child care accreditation available and the New York State voluntary quality rating system that is coming soon please, click here..
Another area for a parent to monitor is the consistency of the staff working with their child. It is important for young children to have consistency of caregivers in order to feel safe and comfortable in the child care program.  A child care program that has continuous staff turnover could be a red flag for a parent.
 
If you would like more information on a registered family child care or school-age child care program, please call the Registrar’s Office at 716-284-2258.
More information on the regulatory compliance history for any registered or licensed child care program can be obtained by visiting the Office of Children and Family Services website at: www.ocfs.state.ny.us.
 
If you would like more information on a specific licensed day care center or group family child care program, please call the Buffalo Regional Office at 716-847-3828.
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