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. 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.  

Licensed child care providers are required to comply with health and safety standards that include training, staff to child ratios, supervision requirements, fire safety, and background checks.  Licensed providers are also subject to unannounced on-site inspections at least once a year

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.  When a program is not state licensed, they are not held to the same health and safety requirements required of licensed programs and do not have unannounced inspection visits by the Office of Early Childhood. 

Visit the Office of Early Childhood Division of Licensing for information on programs.  CT OEC Licensing







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