Here are some questions for prospective daycare providers.

Checklist of Questions

1. What type of Child Care will best suit your family's needs?

These types of child care are regulated by the New York State Office and Children and Family Services. State regulations help to ensure the health, safety and well-being of children while in child care.

Informal or 'Legally Exempt' Child Care

Family Child
Care Home

Group Family
Child Care Home

Child Care Center
Care is
provided by:
One Individual One individual registered by NYS Office of Children & Family Services One individual & one or two assistants, all certified by NYS OCFS A teacher and/or assistant teacher
Care is
provided in:
A personal residence A personal residence A personal residence A location dedicated for the purpose of child care
Maximum number of children in program is: One or two children not related to the caregiver (1) Up to 8 children (2) (See Family Day Care Capacity Chart) Up to 14 children (2) (See Group Family Day Care Capacity Chart) Depends on the age of the child
(See Day Care Center Capacity Chart)
Licensing Requirements: If a family utilizes DSS subsidy, caregiver must submit a written application to county, and may be subject to an unannounced home visit Provider & household members must pass background check; provider is required to receive 30 hours of professional development biennially; site is inspected by NYS prior to registration Provider, assistants & household members must pass background check; providers are required to receive 30 hours of professional development biennially; site is inspected by NYS prior to registration All center staff must pass a background check; director, teachers & assistant teachers are required to receive professional development biennially; site is re-licensed every two years

(1) In addition, legally exempt child caregivers may care for additional children unrelated to them for less than three hours a day, as well as children related to them

(2) Children of the child care provider not yet in school must be counted in the program's capacity

Note: It is against NYS law for individuals who care for more than two children unrelated to them and not certified to provide care to do so. These individuals are subject to monetary fines.

These types of child care are exempt from NYS regulations:

  • Preschool/Nursery School: social/educational programs for three to five-year-olds. Preschools operate for less than three hours a session, two to five times a week.
  • Nannies/in-home care: child care that is provided in the child's home is not regulated by NYS OCFS child care regulations

2. Does the program meet the expectations you are looking for?

New York State has created child care regulations which family and group family child care homes and child care centers must be in compliance with to remain registered or licensed to offer child care. Keep in mind the following questions when you are visiting potential child care sites to help you decide if the program provides the level of quality you are seeking.

3. Observe the Program's Health & Safety:

  • Does the program have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?
  • Does the program have an emergency/evaluation plan and conduct practice drills with children?
  • Does the program child-proof the area?
  • Does the program have a working phone with emergency numbers posted?
  • Is the furniture and equipment secure and in good condition?
  • Does the program have first aid supplies in good condition?
  • Is the environment clean especially in eating, diapering, and bathroom areas?
  • Does the program encourage good health habits such as washing hands before eating?
  • Does the program have a policy for infants to sleep on their back?
  • Does the program have a firm sleep surface for infants without toys, pillows, and loose bedding?
  • Is the program certified to administer medication to children?

As of January, 31 2005 all regulated child care programs are required to be certified by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services to administer medication to children in their care, prior to receiving parental permission to do so.

4. Observe the program's environment:

  • Does the program have a safe place for infants to crawl and explore?
  • Does the program have space indoors and out for active play?
  • Does the program have a separate space for quiet times?
  • Does the program supply equipment and supplies to accommodate the needs of various ages?
  • Does the program allow children to choose activities based on their own interests/ abilities?
  • Does the program have space that is clean, bright, warm, and comfortable?
  • Does the program have bathroom accessible for the children?

5. Observe the child care provider or teacher:

  • Are there enough adults for the group size of the children?
  • Does the caregiver attend training programs related to different areas of child development, programming, nutrition, health and safety, etc?
  • Does the caregiver provide individual attention?
  • Does the caregiver encourage the children to feel good about themselves?
  • Does the caregiver appear to warm, loving, and nurturing?
  • Review the Program's Policies and Procedures:
  • Were policies regarding illness, fees, discipline, hours and days off, etc. explained?
  • Is there a written contract or handbook that explains policies?
  • Were child rearing issues discussed?
  • Are nutritious meals provided?
  • Are the children transported for any reason-if so, can the caregiver ensure the children are properly secured in the vehicle?
  • Are parents allowed to visit at any time?
  • Are references provided?
  • Will the program share information regarding your child with you on a regular basis?
  • As a parent, you can claim the amount you pay for child care. Is the program willing to provide you with the appropriate documentation needed to submit the claim?


Tammy Ablang
Early Care & Learning Subject Educator
(315) 223-7850 x 222

Last updated June 28, 2019