Choosing the Right Care
This page contains information on quality indicators for choosing child care and the different types of child care that are available. To make it easier to navigate, use the links below to jump to the section you wish to read.
Six Quality Indicators to Consider
An important first step:
Parents should always review the licensing records, inquiring about the regulatory history, occurance of serious citations, and the complaint history of a program to make sure the child care provider is in good standing with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and that there are no unresolved citations.
Call the regional office of the NYS Office of Children and Family Services for the licensing history (including regulatory violations) for any regulated program. To contact your local regional office, call 1-800-732-5207 or visit the website at www.ocfs.state.ny.us. Then decide where you feel comfortable leaving your children and if it is the best fit for your family.
This is an important step to ensure a quality child care placement and a vital component of a comprehensive search for the right child care provider.
Group size has a positive impact on the overall quality of early and school-age care and education programs and the experiences that children have in those programs. Smaller group size is important in maintaining proper supervision, quality care and enough one-on-one attention for each child in care.
Similar to group size, the adult to child ratio also has a positive impact on the overall quality of a child's experience in care. Consult the descriptions below to find out more about the adult to child ratio for the different types of child care.
Health and Safety
A major concern of parents when they drop their children off at a child care program is the safety of their children in the hands of the caregivers. Some things to look for that indicate the program is safe & healthy are working smoke detectors, toys and equipment are in good condition, food prep areas are separated from restroom and diapering areas. The daily routine should also include proper handwashing and diapering procedures, and direct competent supervision of children at all times. This is not a comprehensive list.
Parents and families have the most direct and lasting impact on a child. When parents are involved, children are more confident, and feel more comfortable especially in a new setting. Choosing a program that welcomes parents to come in during the time the child is in care is the first step in getting to know the “important people” in a child care program. Know what is expected of you, and what you can expect from a program. Volunteer to help out at the program, to read to the children or go on a field trip. Always keep the lines of communication open.
New York State Law requires providers to give parents the opportunity to discuss issues related to their children. These opportunities must occur at the time of enrollment and as frequently as needed thereafter, but at least annually. It is the parent’s right to know what is happening while their child is in a child care program. Do not hesitate to ask questions.
Caregiver Education and Turnover
Caregivers in child care centers, school-age programs, and registered/licensed family child care programs must receive a minimum of thirty hours of educational training every two years, fifteen hours of which must be completed during the first six months of employment in a center or school-age program. In family child care programs, providers must complete fifteen hours of training during the first six months of program registration or licensing.
Accreditation is a voluntary system by which programs measure themselves against a national set of standards. Going beyond minimum licensing standards, accredited programs make a commitment to excellence. Caregivers in accredited programs take part in on-going training. They are more likely to understand children’s needs at different ages, plan appropriate activities, interact with children in warm and stimulating ways, and provide positive guidance for children rather than harsh discipline. Click here to read more about program accreditation.
Types of Child Care
Child Care Center
Center based care is provided for a group of children for more than three hours per day, not in a personal residence, which must meet state licensing regulations for facility, health, safety, staffing and its educational program. In addition to becoming state licensed, child care centers may strive to become accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
|Age of Children||Staff/Child Ratio||Maximum Group Size|
|6 weeks to 18 months||1:4||8|
|18 to 36 months||1:5||12|
|6 to 9 years||1:10||20|
|10 to 12 years||1:15||30|
Registered Family Child Care
Registered Family Child Care is provided in the home setting for up to six children including the provider’s own (fewer if there are infants, provider's own children are only included until they enter Kindergarten) with an expanded capacity to serve two more school-age children. Family child care programs must be registered through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services if care is provided for three or more children. If care is provided for only two children in the home setting, it is legally exempt from state licensing. Family Child Care programs may be accredited through the National Association of Family Child Care.
Licensed Group Family Child Care
Licensed Group Family Child Care is provided in the home setting by a primary caregiver and an assistant for up to twelve children including the provider's own (fewer if there are infants, provider's own children are only included until they enter Kindergarten) with an expanded capacity to serve two more school-age children. Group family child care programs are licensed through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and may be accredited through the National Association of Family Child Care.
School-Age Child Care
Care is provided for a group of school-age children from kindergarten through age twelve before and after school and at times when school is not in session. Many school-age programs provide care during school vacation periods and holidays. School-age child care may be provided by child care centers, family child care homes, public schools, youth recreation groups, religious organizations, and other community groups. School-age programs are registered through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and may be accredited through the National Afterschool Association.
Educational and social programs are provided for three to five year olds for less than three hours per day, two to five times per week, and often follow a school-year schedule. Preschools which operate more than three hours per day are required to become licensed through the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. Preschools operated by public or private schools are exempt from licensing. Preschools may voluntarily register with the NYS Education Department, which sets guidelines for facility, staff and program.
Summer Day Camp
A program or facility that operates during the summer months and is typically monitored by Department of Health guidelines.
Care provided by a relative or non-relative within a child’s home.
Contact the Capital District Child Care Council with any questions and speak to a Parent Educator by calling 518.426.7181, or emailing Tricia Howland.
Families feel the pinch of paying for child care.
Whether you are a parent who currently has children in child care, are seeking care, or have used child care in the past, please take a moment to complete this survey. This information will help determine the Child Care Council’s work to help families like you. Your information will be kept confidential. One survey per family.
All survey participants will be entered to win a $50 Price Chopper gift card.