New York Child Care EducationLicensing Rules for Starting a Day Care in New York

You must meet certain requirements and conform to other established standards if you intend to start a daycare in the state of New York. Daycare centers in New York are licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and regulated by the NYC Department of Health (DOH) Bureau of Day Care.

Both OCFS and DOH have outlined several factors and requirements that must be considered before a daycare center is allowed to operate in the state, and they include staff-to-child ration, maximum group size, administration, location, permits, personnel, etc. Failure to meet any of these requirements means the center cannot be licensed to operate. Day Cares in New York are broadly categorized into two main types: Center-Based Care and In-Home Family Care.

Types of Center-Based Care Centers in New York (Group Child Care Center)

This comprises of Child Day Care Centers, Small Daycare Centers, and School-Age Centers. They operate in non-residential spaces and for three or more hours per day. The difference in the Care Centers are as follows:

Daycare centers – For three or more children under the age of 6 years.

Small daycare centers – For 3 to 6 children under the age of 6 years.

School-Age Centers- For seven or more children under the age of 13, who are enrolled in kindergarten or a higher grade OR at least six years of age. Also, this center may not be allowed to care for multiple children under two years of age at the same time.

Below are the steps to take to be approved to operate a Group Child Center in New York:

First, you need to take the Child Care Orientation program provided by OCFS. The orientation program outlines essential rules, regulations, and requirements for operating a Child Care Center in New York. It also helps you decide on whether opening a Child Care Center is right for you.

Once you’ve done the orientation and acquainted yourself with all the necessary information, then it’s time to apply for a license.  Some of the documents to be provided during application include:

  • Certificate of occupancy from your local government showing compliance with the Fire Code and Building Code of New York.
  • Documentation from the NYC Department of Health showing that the center has been inspected.
  • If the center uses private water supply, a certificate showing that it meets relevant standards for drinking water is required.
  • Certification indicating that the center and surrounding buildings are free from any environmental hazard.
  • Documentation from the New York Department of Labor showing that all steam or hot water has been approved.
  • A copy of the emergency evacuation diagram.

Please do visit the OCFS Website for other documentation requirements.

As soon as you’ve all the required documents, you can now proceed to submit your application for a provider license. All applications are submitted to OCFS. License packets are also available from the OCFS website.

After you’ve submitted your application, then you’ve to prepare your center for an inspection by a state licensing representative. Make sure you childproof your center because the representative will be checking to ensure there are no looming dangers for children in your center. Have fire extinguishers and first aid kits and make sure toys are in good working condition and free of sharp edges.  Once the state certifies your center as “compliant”, you will be issued your permit.

Types of In-Home Family Child Cares in New York 

In-Home Family Child Care consists of Family Day Care and Group Family Day Care. They are Child Care services provided in residences. The differences between the two-family care centers are as follows:

Family daycare – For 3 to 6 children between 6 weeks and six years of age. Also, there must be one caregiver for every two children under two years of age.

Group family day care – For 7 to 12 children between 6 weeks to 12 years of age. There must be one caregiver for every two children under two years of age. In addition, there must always be one on-site caregiver and an assistant at all times.

In addition to the requirements for Center-Based Care Centers, In-Home Family Centers must also meet the following requirements to be approved for operation:

  • Intended rooms for the children’s’ use must be well ventilated and well-lighted. All ventilating, lighting, and heating equipment must be working properly.
  • The caregivers must provide a firm, clean cot or bed, and crib for all children in the home.
  • All cribs to be used by the children must meet the safety standards established by the Product Safety Commission. Stackable cribs are not allowed.
  • No use of toxic paints or finishes on the furniture, rooms, or any other materials that the children are likely to come in contact with.
  • Concrete floors must be covered with appropriate materials.
  • The intended home must have enough indoor and outdoor space to accommodate the activities of the children.
  • An accessible bathroom on the main level of the resident.
  • The caregiver must provide adequate sewage facilities and safe water supply for the children. These must comply with New York state laws.
  • The intended care house must be visible from the street.

Caregiver Training

In the State of New York, new caregivers are expected to complete 15 hours training (provided by the state) during the first six months after registration, and also another 15 hours before the expiration of your registration.

New York’s Second Hand Smoke Law for Child Care Providers

Child Care providers in New York, you should be aware of the state’s laws regarding second-hand smoking. No form of smoking is allowed in centers or family homes applying for a daycare license. Smoking (including e-cigarettes) of any sort is prohibited even outside operating hours.

Additional Resources

Division of Child Care Services – Office of Children and Family Services (https://ocfs.ny.gov)

New York Day Care Center Licensing Requirements (https://www.daycare.com/newyork)

Group Family Day Care License — NYC Business (https://www1.nyc.gov)

Child Care — Information for Operators — NYC Health (https://www1.nyc.gov)

Starting a Day Care Business — NYC Business Solutions (www.nyc.gov)