How to Start a Daycare in New York

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Looking to start a daycare in New York? It requires careful planning and adherence to regulatory requirements. Here is a list to get you started.

  • Begin by conducting thorough market research to identify the demand for daycare services in your target area and to understand your competition.
  • Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s mission, services offered, target demographics, and financial projections.
  • Obtain the necessary licenses and permits from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), ensuring compliance with health, safety, and staffing regulations.
  • Secure a suitable location that meets zoning requirements and offers ample space for indoor and outdoor activities. Invest in quality furnishings, equipment, and educational materials tailored to children’s age groups.
  • Hire qualified staff members with appropriate certifications and background checks.
  • Establish clear policies and procedures for enrollment, health and safety protocols, and communication with parents.
  • Finally, market your daycare through various channels such as social media, a com listing, local community networks, and partnerships with schools or businesses to attract families seeking reliable childcare options.

Do I need a childcare license in New York?

Most childcare businesses in New York require some form of licensing to ensure the implementation of general health and safety measures aimed at safeguarding children from potential harm, injury, or illness. Determining the need for a childcare license in New York hinges primarily on the number of children under your care. Babysitting, which entails caring for one or two children, falls outside specific state regulations. However, if your childcare services extend to three or more children, whether in an in-home setting or otherwise, it qualifies as establishing a daycare business and necessitates obtaining a license.

Daycare in New York

Childcare licensing requirements in New York

The licensing requirements for your daycare business vary depending on its classification, with each category dictating the program criteria necessary for compliance with state regulations. New York’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) outlines five distinct daycare classifications:

  • Daycare Center: Providing regular care for more than six children for over three hours per day in a non-residential location.
  • Family Daycare: Offering regular care for three to six children for more than three hours per day in a family home.
  • Group Family Daycare: Providing regular care for 7 to 12 children for over three hours per day in a family home.
  • School-Age Childcare: Offering care to an enrolled group of seven or more children under 13 years old in a non-residential setting during periods when they are not typically in school, such as before or after school, during lunch breaks, holidays, or summer vacation.
  • Small Daycare Center: Providing care for three to six children for more than three hours per day in a non-residential location.

Each category has its own set of licensing prerequisites, regulations, and application procedures. Operating any of these categories without the appropriate license could result in penalties ranging from fines to potential imprisonment for the business owner.

Childcare license application in New York

The process of becoming a licensed daycare operator in New York begins with completing the state’s online Child Daycare Orientation. This course is designed to furnish you with comprehensive information necessary for determining whether initiating a childcare business aligns with your objectives. The orientation delineates the prerequisites for commencing a daycare, permissible care locations, and the governing rules and regulations.

Upon completing the online orientation, you gain access to the daycare application corresponding to your desired daycare type. Given that the application procedure may be time-consuming, exercising patience is imperative. Having a well-prepared daycare business plan, a chosen daycare name, and prospective employees identified beforehand will facilitate the application process. You can procure the requisite application materials by reaching out to the appropriate OCFS regional office, where you can also obtain detailed information regarding the daycare establishment process and the associated legal stipulations. Additionally, the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies offer technical support and training to assist you throughout the application process and post-opening operational phase.

Following the submission and review of your application, an OCFS representative will conduct an inspection tailored to the specifics of your planned daycare and its location. Upon approval of your daycare business, a license or registration will be dispatched to you, enabling you to commence operations and initiate marketing efforts for your childcare venture.

In addition to promoting your program, it is essential to establish an operational framework to facilitate the day-to-day management of your center.

The Office of Children and Family Services provides support for people and organizations interested in starting child day care programs in their communities. As a general rule, any child day care program planning to serve three or more children, for more than three hours a day on a regular basis, must obtain a license or registration. Before becoming licensed or registered, the applicant must show that the proposed child day care program meets requirements established to promote the health and safety of children in care.

To get more information about operating a day care center in New York City, contact the New York City Department of Health, Bureau of Day Care, phone: 311, TTY number: (212) 504-4115, or go to the website.

Daycare in New York

Information for Applicants

To obtain an application for a child care program license or registration in the following languages: بى (Arabic), বাঙালি (Bengali), 中文 (Chinese), Francais (French), Kreyòl ayisyen (Haitian-Creole), Italiano (Italian), 한국어 (Korean), Polski (Polish), Русскийy (Russian), Español (Spanish), יידיש (Yiddish), please contact (518) 474-9454 for assistance.

The Office maintains a network of Regional Offices that can provide you with application materials, information about the process of starting a program, and help with understanding the legal requirements.

In addition to the Regional offices, Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCRR) provide information to new and prospective child care providers about many aspects of program start up and eligibility for funding to assist you in starting or expanding your child care program.

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in New York

Once you have obtained your childcare provider license, it is crucial to ensure ongoing compliance with all aspects of your business, even those not explicitly required for license renewal. Simply possessing an up-to-date license or registration does not guarantee continued adherence to all regulations governing daycare operations. Here is a comprehensive list of other critical aspects you must consistently uphold:

  • License or registration renewal: Renewal frequency varies based on the type of daycare you manage, typically occurring every two to four years. Refer to specific daycare regulations for renewal guidelines tailored to each type.
  • Background checks: Compliance with the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act and New York State Social Services Law mandates that all operators, employees, and volunteers undergo comprehensive background checks and fingerprinting.
  • Training records: As a daycare operator, maintaining accurate records of childcare training programs attended by both yourself and your staff is essential. Demonstrating compliance with requisite training standards for your daycare type is imperative.
  • Mandated reporting: Every individual employed within a child daycare program is designated as a mandated reporter, legally obligated to promptly report any reasonable suspicion of child abuse or maltreatment to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR).
  • Ratios: Each daycare type entails specific requirements regarding the maximum number of children and the ratio of children to caregivers. For example, in a family daycare setting, no more than two children under the age of 2 can be under care simultaneously. Similarly, a group family daycare must maintain a ratio of one caregiver for every two children under age 2. Familiarizing yourself with permissible ratios for your daycare type is crucial for maintaining compliance.

Daycare in New York

Embarking on a childcare business venture can present both challenges and considerable rewards. Should you contemplate establishing a childcare program in New York, comprehending the myriad requirements is paramount. Licensing prerequisites and the application procedure will vary based on the specific particulars of your enterprise. Nonetheless, through meticulous planning and adept organization, you can successfully navigate state stipulations, thereby paving the way for advancing to the subsequent stages of your business journey.

To best market your daycare and utilize coming tools such as all-in-one waitlist management, payment processing, and single scan solutions for parent updates, sign up at

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