Types of Child Care

There are a number of options to choose from when looking for a child care setting.  Programs can be different in a number of ways, sometimes making your choice confusing. Wehn considering your options, be sure to make quality a top priority.  Quality child care offers supportive, nurturing relationships with trusted adults and positive learning experiences for children. 

Below you will find information to help you choose a program that best fits the needs of your child and family.  You may want to look at several types of care before making your decision. 

Licensed or Regulated 

This type of care must meet requirements of the Office of Early Childhood Division of Licensing, Board of Education or Municipalities. 

  • Family Child Care – An individual licensed by the Office of Early Childhood Division of Licensing to provide care in their own home.  Care can be provided for up to six full time children, with only two under the age of two years.  Additionally, there can be up to three additional school age children before and after school. 
  • Group Child Care Homes – Provide care for 7-12 children in a residence or other facility.
  • Child Care Centers – Programs that provide care for more than 12  children in larger group settings.  Centers can be found in buildings and school settings.  
  • Youth Camp – Operated only during school vacations for recreational or educational purposes to five or more children. Camps are licensed as residential (overnight) or licensed as a day camp.

Licensed child care providers are required to comply with health and safety standards and are subject to unnannounced on-site inspections at least once a year.

  • Staff Training/Certification
  • Maintain Staff to Child Ratios
  • Supervision Requirements
  • Fire Safety
  • State and Federal Background Checks

The Office of Early Childhood has developed a quality improvement system for child care providers. It is called Elevate.  Families can check a program’s Elevate Level to learn more about their commitment to quality and continuous improvement. All licensed and license-exempt providers are part of the Elevate system.

Unlicensed Care

This type of care is informal and therefore does not require regulation by the State. This type of care is also referred to as Family, Friend and Neighbor care or Kith and Kin care. 

  • Relative Care – Provided by a close relative such as a child’s grandparent, aunt or uncle. Care takes place either in the home of the relative or the child.
  • In Home Care – Provided by a caregiver in the child’s home. Care is provided by a nanny, a babysitter or an au pair. 
  • Out of Home Care – Provided at a friend or neighbor’s house for three hours or less per day or care that is not on a consistent basis.

Not all child care programs are required to be licensed by the Office of Early Childhood. Some programs are run through a private school or through the town/city.  Exempt programs that are interested in receiving Care 4 Kids child care subsidy payments must go through an annual health and safety inspection to be eligible.

Visit the Office of Early Childhood Division of Licensing for information on how programs meet requirements to become licensed.   CT OEC Licensing