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Steps to Finding the Best Child Care for Your Family
The first step to finding the right child care for your family starts with knowing what options you have. In Delaware, a license is needed when payment is received for care of a child outside of their home while the parent is not present. The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) is responsible for the licensing and monitoring of child care programs in the State of Delaware. It is part of the Division of Family Services within the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF).
There are three (3) types of licensed child care providers: 1) family child care; 2) large family child care; and 3) child care centers. You can learn more about each type of care below.
Family Child Care
Family child care takes place in a licensed home. Up to 9 children can be cared for at one time. The number of children allowed depends on: 1) the ages of the children present at any given time; and 2) the provider’s level (Level I or Level II) as determined by their training and experience. The number of children in care can vary from 1 to 6 infants through preschool-aged children and 1 to 3 school aged children.
Large Family Child Care
A large family child care is offered in a licensed home or business location. The number of children allowed depends on the ages of the children present at any given time. It can vary from 7 to 12 infants through preschool-aged children and 1 to 3 school aged children. Depending on the number of children and their ages there needs to be one to three staff members.
Child Care Centers
Child Care Centers are in a business location and serve 13 or more children. This type of care includes child care centers, preschools, and before/after school care. Centers are licensed for a total number of children. Staff to child ratios and maximum group size must be maintained based on the youngest child present in the group. Ages served, philosophy, curriculum, costs, and services can vary from one center to another.
|wdt_ID||Age of Child||Range||Minimum Staff/Child Ratio||Maximum Group Size|
|1||Infant||(under 12 months)||1:4||8|
|2||Young Toddler||(12-23 months)||1:6||12|
|3||Older Toddler||(24-35 months)||1:8||16|
|4||Younger Preschool Child||(36-47 months)||1:10||20|
|5||Older Preschool Child||(48 months or older & not yet in kindergarten)||1:12||24|
|6||School-Age Child||(attending elementary school)||1:15 *||30|
* Child care centers may ask OCCL for permission to have a minimum staff/child ratio of 1:20. The teacher assigned to the school-age classroom must be currently certified in the state of Delaware. The center must have and follow a plan for the group to be at a ratio of 1:15 when the certified teacher is not present (planned or unplanned absences). A copy of the teacher’s certification and plan for absences must be submitted to OCCL with the Variance Request form. The maximum group size of 30 children remains regardless of the staff/child ratio.
School-aged Child Care Considerations
Each family’s needs are different when it comes to school-aged children. Care can be needed before school, after school, on days schools are closed, during the summer or a combination of these. Quality school-age child care programs are neither an extension of the school day nor intended to only keep children out of harm’s way. School-age care should provide children with a comfortable environment with freedom to move about and choose age-appropriate activities. Outdoor play, opportunities to socialize with peers, space for individual quiet time and/or homework should be included.
Anyone who wants to become a licensed provider must go through a process of training and submitting documentation to the Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL), including but not limited to:
The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) visits all licensed family child care homes (FCC), large family child care homes (LFCC), and early care and education and school age centers (Centers) to determine if they are following all Delaware’s licensing regulations.
Facility visits happen prior to becoming licensed, annually and on an as needed basis. The types of visits are as follows;
Announced visit– At this time only pre-licensing visits are scheduled. As of December 31, 2015, OCCL stopped all other announced visits.
Unannounced visit– a visit not previously scheduled to determine if the provider is following all the regulations for their type of care.
After a full compliance review is completed, the areas where the provider is not following the regulations (non-compliances) are written up and a time-sensitive action plan to correct them is made. One of the following licenses is mailed to the provider based on the visit;
Standards Investigations (or complaint visits) are an additional visit that happens when a complaint is made to OCCL. All complaints of possible violations of the regulations must be investigated. The result of the investigation is posted on OCCL’s website for each provider. The outcome of the investigation will be communicated in one of the following three ways;
Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies (CCR&R)
Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) are local agencies that assist parents in their search of child care and resources relating to children. Children & Families First (CFF) is the CCR&R in Delaware. They have a database of licensed and legally operation child care providers. If you are searching for child care providers go to the section on CHILD CARE – Looking in Delaware for more details.