If you’re researching how to get a home daycare license in New York, you might notice that it’s not the easiest process.
For one, there’s a 100+ page, paper-based application you’ll need to navigate. And once you get your application, you’ll only have 6 months to mail everything in.
That may seem like a good chunk of time, but you’ll have to go through several background checks, trainings, and home inspections in order to complete everything that’s required. It’s also recommended that you submit everything at once, because once any part of your application reaches your Licensor, you’ll only have 90 days to complete the rest. Altogether, time can add up quickly and before you know it, you’re up against the clock.
So, how can you make your way through the licensing jungle and get everything done on time?
In this post, we’ll help out by giving you an overview of what child care licensing in New York looks like. We’ll break down the licensing process in a way that will set you up for success. Read on to learn exactly what you’ll need to become licensed, so you can be well on your way to opening a home daycare in New York.
Covering the Basics: Getting a Home Daycare License in New York
In New York, all child care programs fall under the state’s Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS). Within OCFS, there are several regional offices that are split up across the state. During the licensing process, you’ll be working with the OCFS regional office that serves your area.
Home daycares in New York are officially referred to as Family Day Care. On top of that, there’s regular Family Day Care and Group Family Day Care. What’s the difference? Simply put, a regular Family Day Care can have up to 6 non-school-age kids and doesn’t require you to hire an assistant.
On the other hand, a Group Family Day Care requires you to submit an assistant with your application, and you can have up to 12 non-school-age kids at time when your assistant is present.
Which one should you choose? That’s up to you. If you have “adequate” space for up to 12 kids or if you already have an assistant in mind, Group Family Day Care is probably the better option for you. If you have a smaller space or would rather do this solo, then regular Family Day Care might be a better fit.
One last thing before we jump into requirements—not sure if you’ll actually need to get licensed? Here’s the rule from OCFS: you’re required to be licensed or registered if you are planning to serve 3 or more children (that aren’t your own!) for more than 3 hours a day.
Alright, now that we have the basics covered on what child care looks like in New York, let’s jump into what it takes to get a license to open a home daycare.
New York Home Daycare Requirements
At first glance, the OCFS requirements for a Family Day Care License are relatively straight forward:
- Check Eligibility
- Complete Online Orientation & Request Application
- Get CPR & First Aid Certified
- Complete Health & Safety Training
- Get a Physical Exam
- Sign & Notarize Your Child Support Obligation Statement
- Pass Background Checks
- Pass Home Inspections
Taken alone, each of the above seems perfectly reasonable. But put together, there’s a lot for an aspiring Provider to keep track of.
Let’s walk through each of these requirements one by one.
1. Check Eligibility
If you have at least 2 years of being a parent or paid/unpaid experience working with children, you’re qualified according to OCFS. If you have only 1 year, you can make up the extra year by completing 6 hours of early childhood development training or education. Note that if you hire an assistant, they’ll need to meet this requirement too.
When you get your application, you’ll also need to submit 3 references who can vouch for your child care experience. Your Licensor will mail them a form, which they’ll need to fill out and send back—so you’re going to want to stay in touch with them through the application process to make sure they receive and send them back promptly.
It’s also really important if you rent from a landlord or management company or belong to an HOA that you make sure you have approval to open a home daycare before doing anything. We’ve seen folks get deep into the licensing process, only to find out that it’s a no-go with their landlord. Make sure you get their thumbs up before moving on.
2. Complete Online Orientation & Request Application
To kick off the licensing process, you’ll create an account on the OCFS website and go through their online orientation. It takes about 2 hours, and you’ll watch a total of 20 videos. After that, you’ll be able to request an official application. Once requested, your application will take about 1-2 weeks to arrive.
3. Get CPR & First Aid Certified
To operate a licensed program, you’ll need to be current on First Aid and Pediatric CPR. But you don’t need these certificates to submit your application. Instead, you’ll just need to record in your application that you are certified. Make sure it’s in-person, too. Online CPR & First Aid courses will not count.
4. Complete Health & Safety Training
Once you receive your application and receive your registration # (soon-to-be your licensing #), you can register for your Health & Safety Training through the Early Childhood Education and Training Program (ECETP) website.
The Health & Safety Training is a 15-hour course, typically broken up into 2, 3, or 5-day sessions. There, you’ll extensively cover how to care and look out for the health and safety of children in your program. Once you complete the training, you’ll receive a certificate that you’ll need to make a copy of and submit with your application.
5. Get a Physical Exam
As the Provider, you’ll also need to prove that you have a clean bill of health, and the application has a form for you to bring to your primary care physician for them to sign. You’ll also need a Tuberculin test and prove that you’re negative.
If you have any household members or assistants, they’ll need to get a physical, too.
6. Sign & Notarize Your Child Support Obligation Statement
You’ll need to sign a form in front of a notary and stamped by them that declares whether or not you are currently under an obligation to pay child support. Some find this to be a bit of a curveball since it’s tucked in near the end of the application packet.
7. Pass Background Checks
Next up, it’s on you, the applicant, to make sure that every assistant or member of your household has a clean criminal record before you submit your application.
For you and every household member listed on your application, you’ll need to complete a separate “Criminal Conviction Statement” form and Staff Exclusion List (SEL) Check form. You’ll also need to list every household member on the State Central Register (SCR) Form and submit a $25 processing fee. Then, once you mail in your application and your Licensor receives it, you and every member of your household will need to schedule an appointment to get fingerprints.
8. Pass Home Inspections
Once you’ve submitted your application to your Licensor and your fingerprints have come back successfully, your Licensor will work with you to schedule 2 home inspections. The first home inspection will be focused on Fire & Safety—making sure your home is suitable and safe for child care use and that you have emergency plans properly in place.
Then, you’ll have your final inspection. During this inspection, your Licensor will check for all OCFS required safety requirements, adequate supplies and materials for your program, and paperwork to maintain your program records. This visit is typically about 2 hours, and setting a good first impression is very valuable for your long-term relationship with your Licensor.
Want to know exactly what you’ll need to look out for during a home inspection? Reach out to us for more information on home regulation requirements.
Start a Home Daycare in New York
At this point, you should have a clearer picture of what it takes to get a home daycare license in New York. But keep in mind that getting your license is only one major part of opening a home daycare!
While you’re going through the licensing process, you’ll also need to figure out how to set up your business, secure insurance, advertise to parents, enroll families, and build your operations.
If that seems like a lot to manage at once, we totally hear you. That’s why we wrote the 5-Part Guide to Open a Home Daycare. It’s a free guide that offers a more comprehensive look at opening a home daycare. It can help you manage all of these major moving parts at once.
And if you need help with any of this, we’re here for you! We can help you go through the licensing process smoothly. Plus, we can work with you to set up your business, and find the best matching families in your area. Just give us a shout to learn more.