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Parents  >  Child Care Options  >  Child Care Centers

Child Care Centers

Child care centers care for children in group settings outside of the home. They often care for large numbers of children grouped by age and developmental needs.


Centers are licensed by the NYS Department of Social Services. The ages and number of children in a program are regulated by this agency. Staff/Child ratios and group sizes are also regulated.


NYS Minimum Requirements for Child/Staff Ratio and Group Size

Age of Child

Staff/Child Ratio

Maximum Group Size

6 weeks - 18 months

1 caregiver for 4 children


18 months - 3 years

1 caregiver for 5 children


3 years

1 caregiver for 7 children


4 years

1 caregiver for 8 children


5 years

1 caregiver for 9 children


6 - 9 years

1 caregiver for 10 children


10 - 12 years

1 caregiver for 15 children



If the center is accredited, it means it has gone through a thorough examination and meets the standards set by national organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


Many parents prefer a center-based program for older children. There is often a little more structure than you'd find with in-home or family child care. Your child will be with peers of the same age, rather than in a mixed age group.

Most centers have year-round schedules and hours of operation that are generally suitable for a standard workday.


Studies show a connection between the education and experience of the director and teaching staff and the quality of child care provided. Be sure to ask about this when you visit centers.


Our Child Care Center Checklist includes a list of questions to ask when you visit a center. It also has group size and staff/child ratio guidelines. You can find more licensing information on the Office of Children and Family Services website.


Protecting children is everyone's job. If you have a concern about a child care program, call 1-800-732-5207, the NYS Department of Social Services Child Care Complaint Line, or the local regional office at 631-240-2560.


Studies show a connection between the experience of the staff and the quality of child care