Start a Daycare in New York – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
Parents with child care needs, people who are running or intending to run child care programs, and anyone with a concern about the health and safety of children in the day care center can find a range of resources in the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. People and organizations that are interested in starting day care programs in their communities can get support from the Office. State laws require that any day care program that will serve three or more children for more than three hours a day on a regular basis must obtain a license or registration certificate. This is intended to help ensure that the health and safety of children in care will be protected.
Applicants to operate a child care center must submit to the Office of Children and Family Services a completed application, including all the required documentations, on Office furnished forms. The applicant must include with the application forms and documentations an agreement to conform with all applicable rules and regulations in operating the child day care center.
To be submitted together with the completed application form are the following documentations:
- Documentation from the local government authority that the facility has been inspected and approved for use a child day care center in accordance with the requirements of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code;
- Documentation showing compliance with the regulations of the local zoning authorities that the child day care center is a permitted use under the zoning code applicable to the area where it is located;
- Documentation showing that the facility has been inspected and approved within the last twelve months prior to the date of application by the local health officer of the New York State Department of Health;
- Report from a state licensed laboratory showing that the water supply in the child day care facility meets the drinking water standards established by the New York State Department of Health;
- Certification that the building, its property and premises, and the surrounding neighborhood and environment are from environmental hazards such as gas stations, nuclear laboratories or power plants, or property with known contaminated ground or water supplies. Documentation of inspection and testing must be made part of the certification, including a statement from appropriate local official or authority that the building, its property and premises, and the surrounding neighborhood meet applicable standards for sanitation and safety;
- Documentation showing that the fire alarm and detection systems, and the fire suppression equipment and systems have been inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with the applicable requirements of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code for use of the building as a child day care center;
- Documentation from a New York State Department of Labor, or an insurance company that is licensed to write boiler insurance in the State of New York, showing inspection and approval of all steam and hot water boiler;
- Diagram of the area of the building to be occupied by the child day care center and all adjacent areas of such building;
- Description of program activities offered by the child day care center to meet the needs of the children;
- Copy of an evacuation plan specifying alternate means of exit;
- Health care plan;
- Copies of sample menus for meals and snacks, or a copy of the current letter of approval from the New York State Child And Adult Care Food Program;
- Sworn statement of the applicant attesting whether he has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in New York State of any other jurisdiction, with the accompanying fingerprint cards;
- Certification on Office provided forms that the child day care center is providing the legally required worker’s compensation;
- Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment clearance form to showing that the applicant is not a subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment;
- Specific procedures which will assure the safety of a child who is reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment and other children who are provided care in the child day care center;
- Procedure for review and evaluation of the background information supplied by applicants for employment and volunteer positions;
- Copies of the center’s personnel policies and practices;
- Copies of policies and practices on appropriate supervision of children in the center;
- Schedule and content of training, both in-service training and outside training resources, for the staff of the child day care center; and
- Copy of certificate of insurance showing intent to provide general liability insurance to the child day care center upon licensure.
All required documentations must be submitted by the applicant within ninety days after the submission of the first piece of such documentation to the Office. Failure of the applicant to submit all documentations within ninety days will be deemed to be a withdrawal of the application. Applicant for a license will be issued a license only after an inspection of the child day care center has been conducted and determined to have complied with all the requirements and all applicable laws and regulations.
Applicants for renewal of a license must submit to the Office at least sixty days in advance of the expiration date of the license a completed application for renewal and other documentations required. A renewal of license will be issued only after an inspection of the child day care center has been conducted showing compliance with the requirements and all applicable provisions of the Social Services Law.
MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
The child day care center that obtained a license from the Office must operate in compliance with the regulations and other applicable laws. A provider must openly display the license at the center for which it was issued and must provide information concerning any waivers approved by the Office. The center must operate in full compliance with the terms of the license. The number of children and their age range must follow what is specified in the license.
A new application for a license must be submitted to the Office when there is any change in the name, address or operator, or when the center will be providing an additional shift of care.
Information relating to any child is confidential and the center cannot disclose such information without written permission of the parents. However, information relating to an individual child may be disclosed to a social services district that gives the child subsidy where the child has been named in a report of alleged child abuse or maltreatment.
A child cannot be refused admission to a child day care center for reasons of developmental delay or disability or for having been diagnosed as having HIV, or HIV-related illness or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
At the time of admission, the child day care center must give the parent a written policy statement that includes the responsibilities of the program, the responsibilities of the parent, the admission policies of the center, the disciplinary policy, the program of activities to be provided, a summary of the health care policies, policy on release of children, food service arrangement; and instructional materials on the available procedures and legal remedies if they suspect the child has been abused or maltreated.
The child day care center must post or display in conspicuous places in the center the following:
- The child day care regulations of the Office of Children and Family Services;
- The name, address and telephone numbers of the persons who has legal responsibility and legal authority for the operation of the child day care center; and
- The address and telephone number of the regional office of the Office of Children and Family Services to be contacted for complaints against the center for any violation of statutory and regulatory requirements.
Inspectors and representatives of the Office must admitted by the center during its hours of operations. The inspectors and representatives must be given free access to the building, staff and children and any records of the center. Full cooperation must be extended by the center to the inspectors and representatives of the Office in regard to any inspection or investigation that is conducted in the center. The center must also cooperate with local Child Protective Services’ staff who may conduct an investigation of alleged child abuse or maltreatment.
The child day care center must give parents the opportunity to discuss issues related to their children and the care of their children with any staff member as frequently as needed.
Staff members of a child day care center must be qualified by training and experience to perform their respective functions in the administration, operation and maintenance of the center. They must possess the maturity, good character and suitable personal qualifications required of their positions. Staff members must be in good physical and mental health with the needed energy and emotional stability necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of their positions.
The child day care center must conduct a review and evaluation of the backgrounds of all applicants who will have regular and substantial contact with the children. Applicants who are covered by a background check must submit the following:
- Summary of the applicant’s employment history including relevant child-caring experience;
- The names, addresses and day time telephone numbers of three non-relative references, at least one of whom can verify employment history, work record and qualifications of the applicant, and at least one of whom can attest to the applicant’s character, habits and personal qualifications necessary to be child care center staff.
- A sworn statement of the applicant on whether he has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in New York State or any other jurisdiction; and
- Information to determine if the applicant is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse and maltreatment.
The minimum education and experience requirements for staff are as follows:
|Person responsible for program supervision functions (Director)||Bachelor’s degree including, or in addition to, 12 credits in Early Childhood, Child Development or related field||AND||One year full-time teaching experience in a child day care center, family or group family day care home or other early childhood program AND One year of experience supervising staff|
|New York State Children’s Program Administrator Credential||AND||One year full-time teaching experience in a child day care center, family or group family day care home or other early childhood program AND One year of experience supervising staff|
|Associate’s degree in Early Childhood or related field with a plan of study leading to a Bachelor’s degree||AND||Two years full-time teaching experience in a child day care center, family or group family day care home, or other early childhood program AND Two years of experience supervising staff|
|Child Development Associate Credential with a plan of study leading to a Bachelor’s degree||AND||Two years full-time teaching experience in a child day care center, family or group family day care home, or other early childhood program AND Two years of experience supervising staff|
|Associates degree in Early Childhood or related field with a plan of study leading to a New York State Children’s Program Administrator Credential||AND||Two years full-time teaching experience in a child day care center family or group family day care home, or other early childhood program AND Two years of experience supervising staff|
|Head of Group for preschoolers||Associate’s degree in Early Childhood, Child Development or related field||AND||No additional experience necessary|
|Child Development Associate credential, or, 9 college credits in Early Childhood, Child Development or a related field, with a plan leading to a Child Development Associate credential||AND||Two years experience related to caring for children|
|Head of Group for infants/toddlers||(In addition to the above, 1 year of specific training and/or experience in infant or toddler care which may be demonstrated by obtaining an Infant Toddler Child Care credential)|
|Head of Group for school-aged children||Associate’s degree in Child Development, recreation or related field||AND||No addition experience required|
|High School Diploma or its equivalent||AND||Two years direct experience working with children under 13 years of age|
|Assistant to Head of group (all age groups)||High School diploma or its equivalent||OR||Substantial experience working with children under 13 years of age|
The child day care center director and each employee must complete a minimum of thirty hours of training every two years. Fifteen hours of training must be received during the first six months of employment at the center or during the first six months of licensure to be credited towards the thirty hours of training required for each license period. The training must cover the following:
- Principles of childhood development;
- Health needs and nutrition of the children;
- Program development;
- Safety and security procedures;
- Maintenance and management of business records;
- Identification and prevention of child abuse and maltreatment;
- Laws and regulations pertaining to child day care center; and
- Laws and regulations pertaining to child abuse and maltreatment.
The director of the child care center may determine what aspect of the above-mentioned areas an individual staff member need further training towards the completion of the required thirty hours of training.
Documentation of the training completed by the staff members must be submitted to the program’s designated licensing office on forms provided by the Office.
The child day care center must establish a program of activities that are appropriate for the children in care. The program must encourage normal progress in the development of cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language skills of the children. Self-initiated, group initiated, and staff-initiated activities that are intellectually stimulating must be provided to the children.
The child day care center must prepare a written daily schedule of program activities and routines which offers reasonable regularity in routines to provide children with opportunities for learning and self-expression in small and large groups. Children are to provided instruction consistent with their age, needs and circumstances involving techniques and procedures that will protect them from abuse and maltreatment.
The child day care center must make available to the children sufficient quantity and variety of materials and play equipment. Such materials must be age-appropriate and suited to their developmental levels and interests.
The child day care center must offer parents information about other community resources to families when they are in need of supportive social services not otherwise provided by the child day care center.
SUPERVISION OF CHILDREN
The child day care center must have an available staff member who will promote the physical, intellectual, social, cultural, and emotional well-being of the children. The staff member responsible for the care of the children must be closely supervised by the child day care center. Assignments and workloads must provide consistency of care to children and must allow staff members to fulfill their respective responsibilities.
The director must be on-site during the hours of operations and a designated person must be assigned to perform the duties of the director in case of absence. Children in a child day care center must not be left without the competent direct supervision at any time.
When a child day care center is in operation, adequate staff members must be on duty to ensure the health and safety of the children. The minimum ratios of staff to children are as follows:
|AGE OF CHILDREN||STAFF/CHILD MAXIMUM RATIO(*)||GROUP SIZE(**)|
|under 6 weeks(***)||1:3||6|
|6 weeks to 18 months||1:4||8|
|18 months to 36 months||1:5||12|
|Minimum Staff/Child Ratios Based on Group Size for School-aged Children|
|through 9 years||1:10||20|
The child day care center must release a child only to his or her parent, a person currently designated in writing by the parent, or another person authorized by law to take custody of the child. A child cannot be released unsupervised from a child day care center except upon the written instruction of the child’s parent. The instruction must be accepted by the child day care center and must take into consideration the child’s age and maturity, proximity of the house to the center, and the safety of the neighborhood.
Surveillance cameras cannot be used as a substitute for direct supervision of the children.
The child day care center must have a written disciplinary guidelines which must be provided to all staff members and parents of the children in care. The guidelines must cover acceptable methods of guiding the behavior of children. Discipline must be administered with the goal of helping each child develop self-control and assume responsibility for his or her actions through clear and consistent rules and limits appropriate to the ages and development level of the children in car. Acceptable techniques and approaches must be used to help children solve problems.
A child must not be punished by isolating him in a closet or darkened area where he cannot be seen and supervised by a staff member. When a child’s behavior leads to harm to another child or property or seriously disrupts group interaction or activities, the child may be briefly separated from the group until he regains enough self-control to rejoin the group.
Corporal punishment, which means punishment inflicted directly on the body, is strictly prohibited. Staff members cannot punish a child by withholding food, rest, or sleep nor can they impose methods of punishment which demean or humiliate a child.
CHILD ABUSE AND MALTREATMENT
The child day care center must not tolerate in any manner or condone an act of abuse or maltreatment of a child by an employee, volunteer or any other person under the provider’s control.
Efforts must be exerted by the child day care center in ensuring that applicants for any position in the center is not the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment on file with the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. If an applicant for a position in the child day care center, employee or any other person about whom the center has made an inquiry is found to be a subject of an indicated report of a child abuse or maltreatment, the center must determine whether to hire, retain or use the person as employee, volunteer or consultant who will have access to the children being cared for by the facility. Whether the person is hired, retained, used or given access to children, a written record must be maintained as part of the file of the child day care center.
Child day care center staff members must report any suspected incident of child abuse or maltreatment concerning a child receiving child day care to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. The reporting of child abuse or maltreatment case must be done in the following manner:
- A staff member must report the information of child abuse or maltreatment to the director of the program or his designated representative.
- The director or his designated representative is responsible for making an immediate report to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
- If the director of the child day care center is the person who allegedly committed abuse or maltreatment of a child, a staff member must report the alleged abuse or maltreatment directly to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
The director or operator of the child day care center must implement procedures which will ensure the safety and protection of any child named in a report of child abuse or maltreatment involving a situation which occurs while the child is in attendance at the center. The director or operator must take all reasonable steps to preserve any potential evidence of abuse or maltreatment.
BUILDING AND EQUIPMENT
The applicant for a child day care license must submit to the Office a diagram of the proposed child day care center together with the application for licensure. The diagram must show: dimensions of rooms, the age group using each room, the size of the group using each room, kitchens and bathrooms for children and staff, exits, alternate means of exit, plumbing fixtures, and the outdoor play area showing its proximity to the building. Changes in the design and use of the building must be done only after getting an approval from the Office.
Areas in the building that will be devoted for use of the children must be well-lighted and well-ventilated. There must be adequate heating or cooling for the protection of the health of the children. A minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit must be maintained in the rooms to be occupied by the children.
There must be a minimum of 35 square feet of space for each child. Areas for larger monitor activity, staff lounges, storage spaces, halls, bathrooms, kitchens and officers are not to be including in calculating the 35 square feet requirement.
A separate quiet area shall be provided for children who become ill or who develop symptoms of illness. This area must be adequately supervised by a staff member.
There must be no toxic paints or finishes on room surfaces, furniture or other equipment, materials or furnishings which may be used by the children or are within their reach. Peeling or damaged paint must be immediately repaired.
The child day care center must provide an accessible outdoor play space which is adequate for active play.
The center must provide adequate and sanitary toilet facilities for the children in a separate, properly ventilated room. One toilet and one washbasin must be made available for every group of 15 children, or part thereof.
The child day care center must provide adequate and safe water supply and sewage facilities to comply with State and local laws. Hot and cold running water must be available at all times.
All buildings used for day care centers must comply with all the applicable provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
The child day care center must take all precautions to eliminate any condition which may contribute to or create a fire hazard. Fire detection, alarm and firefighting equipment that are appropriate for the type of the building, construction, size and occupancy of the room must be provided by the center.
Evacuation drills must be conducted on a monthly basis during various hours of operation of the child day care center. A record of the drills must be kept on file of the center using Office issued forms or approved equivalents.
All fire alarm and detection systems, and all fire suppression, equipment and systems must be tested and maintained in accordance with the applicable requirements of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
Adequate means of exit must be provided in the building occupied by the child day care center. All corridors, aisles, and evacuation routes must be free of any hazard or obstructions.
Steam or hot water boilers must be installed in a manner approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York State Department of Labor. Rooms containing boilers, fuel burning furnaces or other fuel burning heating equipment must be constructed of a minimum of one hour fire resistant materials as required by the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
Trash, garbage and combustible materials must not be stored in furnace rooms or in rooms or outdoor areas that are occupied or accessible to children.
A monthly inspection of the premises to observe fire or safety hazards must be conducted by the director or a designated qualified staff member. Any hazard found must be immediately corrected. The record of inspection must be maintain at the center.
All precautions must be taken to remove all conditions in children accessible areas that may pose safety or health hazard.
The provider must submit to the Office a written plan for the emergency evacuation of the children from the center’s premises using a form provided by the Office. The primary concern of an emergency plan will be the evacuation of the children. The plan, when approved by the Office, must be posted in conspicuous locations in the center. The emergency evacuation plan must cover the following:
- How children and staff will be made aware of the emergency;
- Primary and secondary evacuation routes;
- Method of evacuation, including the evacuation area, and the manner of checking the attendance;
- Roles and functions of the staff during evacuation; and
- Notification by the staff of the authorities and the children’s parents.
The center will not allow the use of any portable heater or other portable heating devices. Radiators and pipes located in rooms occupied or accessible by children must have protection guards to prevent burning or injury. Barriers must be installed in unsafe areas such are swimming pools, open drainage ditches, wells, fireplaces, and permanently installed gas heaters.
Public swimming pools and adjacent areas used by the children must be constructed, maintained and used in accordance with the New York State Sanitary Code, and in manners that will ensure the lives and health of the children.
The child day care center must have access to at least one stationary single-line telephone for general use and emergencies.
The written consent from the parent must be obtained when transportation will be provided or arranged for by the child day care center. Children must not be left unattended in any motor vehicle or other form of transportation. The driver of the vehicle or a staff member monitoring the children must ensure that each child will board or leave a vehicle from the curb side of the street. Safety seats or safety belts appropriate for the age of the children must be provided as required by the Vehicle and Traffic Law.
Motor vehicles used to transport children in care at the child day care center must have a current registration and inspection sticker and must be operated by a person who is at least 18 years of age and in possession of a valid driver’s license.
HEALTH AND INFECTION CONTROL
The child day care center must provide a plan that will aim to protect and promote the health of the children in a manner consistent with the health care plan guidelines issued by the Office. The guidelines will cover practices to promote the health of the children and special considerations for the care of mildly and moderately ill children for programs that provide care for such children. The health care plan must describe the following:
- How a staff member will conduct the daily health check of each child to recognize symptoms of illness, communicable diseases and child abuse or maltreatment;
- Which staff members are certified to administer medications to the children. Only trained, designated staff person may administer medication to children. The designated person must be at least 18 years of age, possesses a current certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and has completed the administration of medicine training.
The center must maintain first aid kits and must monitor and restock the kits when needed. The center must also take steps to prevent the spread of infections through hand washing and diapering techniques, observe safety precautions relating to blood, sanitation of equipment and toys, and the observation of symptoms of illness in the children.
The center must have in place an advance arrangements for the care of any child who has developed symptoms of illness or is injured while in day care, including notifying the parents or guardians of the child.
Each employee or volunteer must submit a written statement from a health care provider at the beginning of employment and every two years thereafter to the effect that the individual is physically fit to provide child day care, has no diagnosed psychiatric or emotional disorder and is free from communicable disease. The statement must include the result of a Mantoux tuberculin test performed within 12 months preceding the date of the statement.
Each child who is in the child day care center for more than ten hours must receive a minimum of two nutritious meals. Food to be served to the children must be prepared and stored in a safe and sanitary manner and served at appropriate intervals. If meal is not provided by the center, there must be adequate supplemental food available for the children in the event that no meal is provided by the parent or the meal provided by the parent is of inadequate nutritional value.
If meals are provided by the center, food preferences for personal, religious or medical reasons may be accommodated. Portions of the meals must be of sufficient for the size and age of the children in care. Second helping of food must be provided to the children if so requested.
Children must be encouraged and helped to gain independence in feeding themselves and must be allowed to learn acceptable table manners appropriate to their developmental levels.
Safe drinking water must be made available to children at all times and must be offered at intervals that are responsive to the needs of the individual children.
Providers must get the a written statement for the parent of each infant in care setting forth the formula and feeding schedule instruction for the infant. Where formula is required, the same may be prepared and provided by the parent, or by a qualified, designated staff person when agreed to in writing by the parent. All efforts must be made to accommodate the needs of a child who is being breast-fed.
FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN NEW YORK
- Central Islip
- Clifton Park
- East Meadow
- Long Beach
- Mount Pleasant
- Mount Vernon
- New City
- New Rochelle
- New York
- New York City
- Niagara Falls
- North Hempstead
- North Tonawanda
- Oyster Bay
- Valley Stream
- West Babylon
- West Hampton Dunes
- West Seneca
- White Plains
State Licensing Contact
New York Department of Family Assistance
Office of Children and Family Services
Bureau of Early Childhood Services
52 Washington Street 3 N
Rensselaer, NY 12144
New York City Department of Health
Bureau of Day Care
2 Lafayette Street, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (518) 474-9454 / (212) 676-2444 (for 5 boroughs)
Web Page: http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/becs/daycare_regs.asp