New York Child Care Licensing: Starting Your Center

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Increasing demand for affordable, high-quality child care has made New York one of the best places to start a child care business in 2021. 

But first, you’ll need to successfully navigate the child care application and licensing process. 

This go-to guide will help you identify the child care license types available in New York and determine which one applies to your business. We’ll also provide step-by-step instructions and connect you with the most important resources you’ll need to complete the child care license application process.

New York Child Care Licensing Overview

Child care licensing in New York is organized through the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), an agency of the NY state government under the Department of Family Assistance.

The OCFS issues licenses for the five different types of child care situations referenced in the New York child care regulations. In the following table, we list the five child care situations that are eligible for licensing, a definition for each, and a link to the applicable child care rules and regulations.

Child Care SituationDefinitionRules and Regulations
Child Day Care CenterA center-based program or facility that provides care for more than 6 children for more than 3 hours each day.Regulations for Child Day Care Centers
Small Day Care CenterA center-based program or facility that provides care for between 3 and 6 children for more than 3 hours each day.Regulations for Small Day Care Centers
Family Day Care HomeA residence where child care is provided for between 3 and 6 children for more than 3 hours each day.Regulations for Family Day Care Homes
Group Family Day CareA residence where child care is provided for between 7 and 12 children of all ages for more than 3 hours each day.Regulations for Group Family Day Care Homes
School-Age Child CareA center-based program or facility that provides child care for seven or more children between the ages of 7 and 12 who are enrolled in school. School-age programs may also provide care during school holidays and summer vacation.Regulations for School-Age Child Care Programs

While each of these child care situations comes with its own unique set of rules and regulations, the OCFS follows the same child care licensing process for all license types. 

In the next section, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions for navigating this process and getting your child care license in New York.

Getting Your New York Child Care License

Step One: Create an OCFS Account

If you’re planning to apply for a child care license in New York, the first thing you’ll need to do is create an OCFS account. You’ll need to provide the OCFS with details like your email address, first and last name, street address and the neighborhood where you plan to offer child care services.

Creating an account will allow you to access OCFS training materials, including the mandatory child care orientation. 

Step Two: Complete the OCFS Online Orientation

Regardless of which child care license type you are applying for, you must complete the online child day care orientation before the OCFS will send you an application packet. To access the orientation materials, you’ll need to visit this page and sign in to your account.

New York’s child day care orientation takes about 1.5 hours to complete. During the orientation, you will be presented with information to help you determine whether you are eligible and able to start a home-based or center-based care program in New York. You will also learn about the child care laws and regulations in New York, which you’ll be expected to follow as a child care provider.

[Note: The child day care orientation materials are hosted on the website for the Professional Development Program at the University of Albany. If you wish, you may view the orientation materials without creating an account by visiting this page. However, viewing the orientation this way (without creating an account) will not give you the option of requesting an application package at the end of the course.]

Step Three: Request Your Application Package

Once you’ve created an OCFS account and used it to complete the online child day care orientation, you’ll be presented with a link that will allow you to request a child care license application packet from the OCFS. You’ll need to review the definitions for the five types of child care licenses and request the right application package for the business you plan to operate.

You can find sample applications for each of the five child care license types on the OCFS website, but these are provided only as a reference and should not be filled out or submitted to the OCFS. Creating an OCFS account and completing the online orientation is the only way to get the correct application package.

Step Four: Prepare and Submit Your Application Package

Once you’ve gotten your hands on the correct application package, it’s time to start working on your child care licensing application. 

This process can take anywhere from days to months, depending on how prepared you are to meet the requirements and comply with New York child care laws. The contents of your application package will vary depending on which child care license type you apply for, but here’s a general idea of what you’ll be asked to provide:

  • General Information – Basic details about your application, including your personal information, the intended site for your child care operation, planned hours of operation, and requested capacity.
  • Business Information – Information about the legal organization of your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.), stakeholders in the business and your business name.
  • First Aid & CPR Information – Information indicating that you and/or other caregivers have obtained First Aid & CPR training. Child care programs in New York must have at least one person on site with current training in First Aid and CPR. 
  • Background Checks – In New York, fingerprint background checks are required for the owner/operator, director, all employees and volunteers at child care businesses, as well as household members over the age of 18 in home-based care settings. Every person in a caregiving role must also complete an SCR form (LDSS-3370) authorizing a records check for reports of child abuse or neglect.
  • Qualifications, References and Medical Statements – Child care license applicants in NY may be required to provide personal or professional references, list their qualifications (education, relevant training, child care and supervisory experience), and obtain a medical statement indicating their fitness to provide child care services.
  • Site Information – Information about the site of your child care operation, including safety considerations, water testing results, environmental hazard inspection, indoor and outdoor floor plans, and emergency planning.
  • Program Information – Information about your child care program, including daily activities, behavior management strategies, curriculum, health care planning and other details.

In addition to these requirements, you’ll need to understand the child care regulations that apply to you. You may also need to have third-party inspections of your site completed for requirements like zoning and fire safety. 

The best way to get help during the registration process is by contacting the OCFS regional office in your area. OCFS staff are available during business hours to help you understand child care rules and laws, prepare your application and successfully complete the licensing process.

You can also get start-up funding for your child care business by contacting the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency that serves your county.

Your application will include instructions for submitting the completed application package by mail to the regional OCFS office in your area.

Step Six: Pass the OCFS Compliance Inspections

After the OCFS has received and reviewed your New York child care licensing application, an OCFS inspector will contact you to schedule an initial inspection of your child care facility. The inspector will check your facility for child safety hazards, fire code violations and general compliance with New York child care laws.

The specific requirements for this inspection can vary depending on the type of child care business you operate and where your program is located.

Step Seven: Receive Your Child Care License and Open Your Program

If your child care operation passes the OCFS inspection, you will receive a child care license in the mail. You are now free to open your business and start providing child care in your New York community – congratulations!

Start Your Child Care Program with Procare Solutions

Starting your first child care program in New York? You can depend on Procare to help you along the way. Our years of experience in the business of child care have made Procare a trustworthy and valued partner for child care providers, administrators and directors.

Procare provides easy-to-use child care software that helps you manage every part of your business, and makes it simple to stay in good standing with licensing requests. All the information you might need is included in the software — no more scrambling to piece together information when an inspection happens or when a local agency requests documentation to show compliance with New York laws. 

With Procare Solutions, you can automate child care payments, track child attendance and nurture communications with parents to build a happy child care community. And with Procare’s live support, we’re always there to help when you need us.

Ready to see how Procare makes life easier for child care providers, directors and administrators?

Request a Demo

About The Author

Jack Pearson

Jack Pearson is a Product Manager at Procare Solutions. Jack focuses on building and improving upon the parent engagement and marketplace functionality in the Procare suite. Additionally, he works to translate the needs of Enterprise customers into meaningful product offerings.

Procare is here to help.

We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.