Eligible families may access Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) subsidized child care options, which includes both regulated child care providers and legally-exempt providers.
Regulated child care providers are licensed providers that have obtained registration verifying their child care program meet certain health, safety, and programmatic standards. Legally-exempt child care providers are not required to be licensed or registered but must meet health and safety requirements as listed in the NYS Code of Rules and Regulations.
Child care options include both child care centers and home-based care.
ACS Subsidized Child Care Options
ACS subsidizes ACS contracted providers, where are slots are subsidized by ACS and all providers are ‘regulated’, as well as legally-exempt providers, which are not contracted with ACS, but will provide a slot for children who have been approved for an ACS voucher and must meet certain health and safety requirements. For more information on vouchers, see below, Child Care Provider Information, Payment to Providers, Legally-Exempt Providers.
Child care is available in either a non-residential facility or a residential facility, typically either the provider’s home or the child’s home.
|ACS Subsidized Child Care Options
|Type of Care|
|Provider Options||Requirements||Center Based Care||Home Based Care|
|ACS Contracted Providers (all slots are subsidized by ACS -
known as EarlyLearn NYC)
|Regulated Providers –
Licensed or registered providers who have met child care program health, safety, and programmatic standards as prescribed by NYS regulations.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Bureau of Child Care is the regulatory agency.
|Group Child Care Center||- Family Day Care
- Group Family Day Care
|Legally Exempt Providers
(Receive payment via a voucher)
|Not required by law to be licensed or registered but must meet health and safety requirements as listed in the NYS Code of Rules and Regulations.
Providers must be enrolled by a “legally exempt caregiver enrollment agency” – WHEDco in NYC.
|Group Child Care Center||- Legally Exempt Family Child Care
- Legally Exempt In-Home Care
ACS CONTRACTED PROVIDERS – REGULATED CARE
ACS contracted child care providers (where all slots are subsidized by ACS) are regulated. ACS contracted child care providers include group child care centers, family day care centers and group family day care centers. These providers are part of EarlyLearn NYC. To find an EarlyLearn NYC program visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/acs/early-care/acs-child-care-options.page#early.
Regulated child care providers have obtained licensing/ registration that their child care program meets certain health, safety, and programmatic standards as prescribed by NYS regulations. The level of regulation and type of certification varies by program type. Center based care are ‘licensed’ and family day care providers are ‘registered’.
The regulatory agency in NYC that conducts the registration procedures for its child care programs is the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Bureau of Child Care, which monitors both center-based programs and family-based programs. Visit https://a816-healthpsi.nyc.gov/ChildCare/ChildCareList.do to compare child care centers in NYC.
Individuals may contact the Regional Office of the Division of Child Care Services to obtain the licensing and regulatory compliance history of child care providers who are or were licensed by OCFS. Visit: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/regionaloffices.asp.
Group Child Care Center (EarlyLearn NYC)
Licensed group child care centers are certified child care providers providing care typically in a non-residential facility.
Licensed child care centers provide child care for three or more children from the age of 6 weeks through 12 years old. The staff-to-child ratio required by law changes depending on the age of the child.
Typically, licensed child care centers provide care for children until they reach the age at which they become eligible for kindergarten. However, when a family has a voucher for a school age child, they can use a voucher with any licensed center-based child care provider. Alternatively, the family can choose a contracted school age program administered by DYCD instead of using their voucher. Visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dycd/services/after-school/comprehensive-after-school-system-of-new-york-city-compass.page for more information on DYCD after school programs.
Vouchers are typically used with legally-exempt providers but may be used for school-aged children in an EarlyLearn program in this situation.
Typically, these centers operate between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., although some programs may open early, stay open late or have weekend hours. The children may be served breakfast, lunch and two snacks and receive both educational and recreational activities.
Parents with a complaint about the conditions in a child care center can call the NYC DOH complaint number at (212) 676-2444.
Family Day Care and Group Family Day Care (Early Learn NYC)
Registered family day care and group family day care are certified child care providers providing care typically in a in a private residence, typically the provider’s home.
Providers may care for children ages six weeks through 12 years old, and up to 18 if the child is incapable of caring for themselves when such inability is documented and in extenuating circumstances. As noted above, for school-aged children the family would use a voucher in these types of settings.
- Family day care providers may care for up to 8 children, depending on the age of the children
- Group family day care providers may care for up to 16 children, depending on the age of the children.
These maximums include the provider’s own children. The staff-to-child ratio required by law changes depending on the age of the child. The provider must work with an assistant any time there are over eight children.
Both regulated family day care and group family day care providers can provide full day, half-day and after school care, usually between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for preschool aged children and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for school-aged children, though many family child care providers open early, stay open late or have weekend hours. Children may receive breakfast lunch and two snacks per day. Due to greater flexibility of hours in the setting, children may also have dinner. Children receive both educational and recreational activities.
Registered family day care providers and group family day care providers must belong to a Family Child Care Network (providers who are not registered may voluntarily enroll in a Family Child Care Network.) These networks are run by community-based organizations and vary in terms of the type and extent of services. They are contracted with ACS to support their network members with training, consultation and referrals. The network is responsible for ensuring providers are compliant with Department of Health licensing regulations and to ensure there is no abuse, maltreatment or neglect to children who are placed in their care. To find a family child care network click here.
Legally-exempt child care providers are not required by law to be licensed or registered to provide child care. However, a legally-exempt provider must meet health and safety requirements as listed in the NYS Code of Rules and Regulations. These providers must be enrolled by a “legally exempt caregiver enrollment agency” (LECEA), see below, Child Care Provider Information, Information for Legally-Exempt Providers.
Legally-exempt providers are not contracted with ACS but will accept an ACS voucher for payment. However, for all practical purposes, only Cash Assistance recipients who require child care are eligible for a voucher from ACS. For more information on vouchers, see below, Child Care Provider Information, Payment to Providers, Legally-Exempt Providers.
Legally-exempt providers include family child care and in-home child care, as well as group child care centers.
Legally-Exempt Family Child Care and Legally-Exempt In-Home Child Care
Legally exempt family child care and legally-exempt in-home child care is typically a relative, friend, or neighbor who cares for one or more children in a residential setting. Legally-exempt family child care is provided outside the child’s home (typically the provider’s home) and legally-exempt in-home care is provided in the child’s home. These are typically known as informal providers.
This type of child care is available for children ages 6 weeks through 12 years old. Limits regarding the number of children cared for depends on whether care is provided in the child’s home or not. If care is provided in the child’s home, there is no limit, as long as all the children are related. If care is not in a child’s home, the provider can never care for more than two children who are unrelated to him/her at the same time, for 3 hours or more.
Legally-Exempt Group Child Care Center
Legally-exempt group child care is typically provided in a non-residential setting and includes nursery school programs and programs for school-age children conducted during non-school hours operated by public school districts, private schools/academies, non-profit agencies or organizations, summer day camps operated by non-profit agencies or organizations, as well as day care centers, family day care homes and other child care programs located on Federal property or tribal property which operate in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Legally-exempt group child care is available for children 3 years through 12 years old. Although there are exceptions for child care programs located on federal property, tribal property, or for a child who is 2 years old at the beginning of the school year but will turn three years old on or before the calendar date for which a child must be at least 5 years old to be eligible for admission to kindergarten.
The staff-to-child ratio required by law changes depending on the age of the child.
Other Types of Child Care Options
- NYC Head Start: A child development program that serves children 3-5 years of age and offers activities and educational programs to prepare children for school. For more information visit: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/center-locator?latitude=40.713&longitude=-74.006&city=New%20York&state=NY
- Universal Pre-K: A Department of Education program that provides children with a nurturing and educational environment to promote positive early child development. Parents may choose a UPK program in a public school or a community-based environment. For more information visit: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/enrollment/enroll-grade-by-grade/pre-k.
- After School Programs: Funded by the Department of Youth & Community Development it offers engaging high-quality programs for young people in all five boroughs of New York City during the hours they are not in school. For more information visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dycd/services/after-school.page.
- Compass NYC: Programs for youths that provide a mix of academic support, sports and recreational activities, as well as arts and cultural experiences at no cost during afterschool hours, on weekends, and during school vacations. Call DYCD’s Youth Connect at 1-800-246-4646 for summer program information. For more information visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dycd/services/after-school/comprehensive-after-school-system-of-new-york-city-compass.page.
- Emergency Child Care: Caretakers who cannot care for their child in an emergency and require respite care (an overnight 24-hour minimum requirement) may call the Parenting Support at 212-886-4000.
Resources for Choosing Child Care
ASSISTANCE IN FINDING CHILD CARE
Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCRRA) are contracted with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services to provide referrals to parents looking for child care. Each CCRRA maintains a database of up-to-date information on a variety of child care programs in their area. There are 34 CCRRA’s in NYS. To find a CCRR by county visit: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/referralagencies.asp#officeList or call 888-469-5999. To locate the CCRRA in NYC visit: http://www.nycccrr.org.
CCRR counselors provide information about the various types of programs, costs, financial assistance and guidelines for selecting child care. Based on a parent’s needs regarding the type of care the parent is seeking, ages of the children, the hours of care needed and other specifics such as any special needs a child may need, the CCRRA will provide a list of providers that will match as close as possible their needs.
It is important the parent contact the child care provider to determine if they have space for the child and to visit the center to make sure it is the right match for their family.
Parents may also want to contact NYC Child Care Connect at
http://www.nyc.gov/health/childcare. Child Care Connect is an online portal that includes a group child care center directory and a free messaging service that parents, and caregivers can sign up for to receive notifications about specific child care centers. To compare child care centers, parents can review:
- Recent inspection reports
- Violations issued
- Staff turnover
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING CHILD CARE
Families should consider the following when choosing a child care program:
- The number of staff and children in a program (staff to child ratio)
- Daily routines and types of activities offered to children
- Availability of toys, books, learning materials, and equipment
- Language needs of parent/child
- The cost, location and hours of operation
- The number of years of experience, education and/or training in child care staff have
- The facility’s history and performance record
- The provider’s health and safety procedures
- The provider’s emergency plan
- Available references
- Experience of other parents and their children
It is advisable to visit several child care programs before making a final choice. When visiting a group child care provider review their performance summary card, which is located near the entrance. To help you read the summary card visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/dc/example-performance-summary-card.pdf.
Visit: https://a816-healthpsi.nyc.gov/ChildCare/SearchAction2.do to compare child care programs in NYC.
Visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/dc/daycare-choosingchildcare.pdf and https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/publications/Pub1115A.pdf for information for parents in their search for child care.
CHILD CARE LOCATIONS IN NYC
To find child care locations in NYC, visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/apps/311utils/providerInformation.htm?serviceId=1050.
To find child care locations throughout NYS, except NYC, visit: https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/childcare/ccfs_template.asp.