Center-based child care is referred to by several names, including day care center, child care center, early childhood program. Center-based child care programs often provide a full day of care, generally from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Part-day and school day programs, often referred to as nursery schools, are also available.

Ages Served

Early childhood centers in NYC can care for children as young as 8 weeks however it is more common that a child care program programs education and care for children beginning at 2 years 9 months. Some centers offer services to school-age children as well.

Hours Served

Center-based programs providing a full day of care are generally in operation from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some programs offer parents other scheduling options including: part-time, full day/part week, part day/full week, or part day/part week.

Average Cost

The average cost for full time care in NYC ranges from $1,300-$2,500/month. Centers typically charge more for younger children because they require more care and attention (diaper changes, feeding help, etc.). Costs for infant and toddler care averages $1,800/month in NYC.

In New York City and elsewhere group child care services are a licensed form of care. The following is a summary of key regulations in NYC. Links to regulations for family child care services in New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut follow.

NYS Group Child Care Licensing Regulations

(Information about child care regulations in the greater New York metro area is available in the right hand column.)
Age of Child Staff to Child Ratio Max. Group Size
2-12 months
1:4 8
12-24 months 1:5
2-3 years
3-4 years 1:10 15
4-5 years 1:12 20

General Staff Requirements and Qualifications

General Staff Requirements

All staff must have a yearly physical exam, including TB test. Immunizations for measles, mumps, and rubella are required. All staff must be fingerprinted, have criminal and child abuse checks, and provide three references. One person trained in CPR / First Aid must be present at all times, however best practice dictates that there be one person per classroom trained in CPR/First Aid.

Director Qualifications

An educational director shall be in charge of the curriculum of the program. S/he must be a certified teacher, trained in early childhood education, with a minimum of two years experience teaching children under 6 years of age. If the center enrolls more than 40 children, the director may not have teaching duties.

The Director of an infant center must hold a Bachelor's degree in early childhood education and have at least two years experience working with infants.

Head Teacher Qualifications

Any person in charge of infants must have either an Associate's degree in early childhood education, or Child Development Associate (CDA) credential approved by NAEYC, or High School Diploma or GED with one year documented paid work experience with infants.

Any teacher in charge of a group of children, aged 2-6 years, is required to have training in early childhood education. In addition, the teacher must have a New York State teaching certification or be enrolled in an approved study plan leading to certification.

Assistant Teacher Qualifications

An assistant teacher must be a mature person, 19 years of age or older, have a High School Diploma, or 60 college credits, or a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential approved by NAEYC.

General Licensing and Facility Requirements

General Licensing Requirements

A license is required for any center caring for 7 or more children under the age of 6. Programs caring for children under 2 years of age must renew their license every year; programs caring for children older than 2 years must renew their license every two years. The license must be prominently displayed.

Facility Requirements

All programs must be on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd floor with two means of egress by walking to the street (elevators and outside fire escapes are not acceptable). Basement space may be permitted if there is sufficient light and ventilation. There must be 30 square feet per child in each classroom, 35 square feet when children attend a full day, 40 square feet per child for infant and toddler programs.

An area designated for storage of children's outer garments, a toilet room with one child-sized toilet and sink for every 15 children, and a storage room or space for cots and classroom supplies. Infant programs must have a separate changing table with access to running water, two sinks - one for diapering and one for food preparation. A separate toilet facility for adults and an indoor active play area is also needed.


All programs must have written approval to operate from the Department of Buildings, Fire Department, and the NYC Department of Health-Bureau of Day Care.

Scheduled inspection is required before licensing and for any renewal thereafter. Unannounced inspections may be made at any time and always after a complaint.