There are several types of early childhood programs available for families in New York. There is no one type of program that is better than another. Quality early childhood programs provide a safe, enriching environment for children to play, learn and grow, which can be found in all types of settings. Parents are the best judge of the type of program that will best suit the needs of their child and family.
Who Participates in QUALITYstarsNY?
All regulated early childhood programs are eligible to participate in QUALITYstarsNY. This includes child care centers, center-based Pre-K, school-based pre-k and 3-k programs, family/group family child care, and Head Start/Early Head Start programs.
Types of Child Care Programs
Child Care Centers
Center-based programs are sometimes referred to as day care centers, child care centers, or center-based early childhood programs. Although the names are different, the focus of early care and education in center-based programs is consistent, typically offering developmentally appropriate learning experiences to support growth in the critical domains of cognition, social and emotional, language, and physical development. Center-based programs often provide a full day program throughout the calendar year, which is necessary to support parents/families who are working or pursuing education or training. Registered nursery schools are also considered center-based programs that provide early care and education experiences for children but for part of the day, typically less than 3 hours. Center-based programs can serve ages birth to six years but services vary based on several factors.
Some public schools operate pre-k classrooms for 3 or 4 year olds. New York State offers Pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds, and in NYC, Pre-K for All is available. These programs provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences during the school year. Some school-based programs offer part-day hours (2.5), while others offer full day hours.
Family or Group Family Child Care
Family child care and group family child care refer to a licensed early care and education program that a provider operates in his or her home on a regular basis. These programs are nurturing learning environments that support children’s growth in the domains of cognitive, social and emotional, language, and physical development. Family child care programs can care for up to six children ages six weeks to 12 years, with one primary caregiver, the provider. Group family child care can care for up to 12 children of mixed-age group and includes the provider working with a qualified assistant to maintain appropriate adult-child ratios. For both types, there must be one caregiver for every two children who are younger than 2-years old.
QUALITYstarsNY offers several resources and tools to help parents and families identify quality, search for early childhood programs and choose a program that is the best fit for their child and family
Download QUALITYstarsNY’s Quality Checklist and Guide to help choose a quality child care program: Our Quality Checklist and Guide helps parents ask the right questions and spot high quality practices when visiting programs and speaking with providers—making it easier to choose the best option for your family.
Your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency is a valuable resource for support and information related to early childhood care and education. Many CCR&Rs offer services that include program referrals, information on available financial assistance, and other parenting supports, as well as training and technical assistance for providers. Find your local CCR&R to learn more about available services.