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Working parents are often faced with the difficult task of choosing child care while they are at work. There are several types of child care programs for parents to consider. Therefore, it is important that parents educate themselves about their child care options. Only a parent can decide what will best meet the needs of their child and their work schedule.

Types of Child Care


Licensed Child Care Center

This facility is approved by the state Office of Licensing (OOL) for the care, development and supervision of six or more children under 13 years of age who are in care for less than 24 hours a day. Centers that are accredited by a national association are programs that have been recognized as high-quality programs. Centers participating in Grow NJ Kids, NJ's Quality Rating and Improvement System are programs participating in quality activities to continuously improve their program to meet higher quality standards beyond licensing standards.

Licensed-Exempt Provider

This is a facility that is deemed exempt from licensing regulation and not regulated by the Office of Licensing, such as:

  • Programs operated by the local public school districts, which are responsible for the implementation and management

  • Private schools which are solely run for educational purposes offering elementary education in grades kindergarten through, 6th, 7th or 8th and their kindergarten, pre-kindergarten or a child care center are an integral part of the private educational institution or system.

Registered Family Child Care Provider

This is a provider who cares for no more than five children at any one time in his or her home and has met the state requirement to receive a Certificate of Registration.   


Family, Friend, Neighbor Provider

This provider is an individual who has been evaluated and approved by the NJ Division of Family Development (DFD) or its designee and serves no more than two unrelated children for fewer than 24 hours of care per day.


These are individuals who have been evaluated and approved by DFD or its designee to care for the child in their own home for fewer than 24 hours of care per day.

Youth Camps

Youth camps are licensed under the Youth Camp Safety Act of New Jersey and possess a certificate issues by the New Jersey Department of Health and provide services wholly or in part for recreational and educations purposes to five or more children under the age of 18.


What kinds of providers can accept a child care subsidy?

Center-based child care providers, school-based providers, family child care providers, home-based or in-home child care providers, or summer day camps that are licensed, regulated, registered or approved under applicable state or local law and that satisfy local requirements including health and safety requirements applicable to the child care services it provides, in addition to the Child Care Block Grant Reauthorization (CCDBG) Act 2014 federal law.  

Early Learning Programs for Young Children

Early Head Start

Provides comprehensive early childhood development programs serving low-income pregnant women and children from birth to age 3 and their families.


Head Start

Promotes the school readiness of young children through agencies in their local community for low-income families and children ages 3 to 5.


State Pre-K

Free preschool early learning and education programs for 3- and 4-year-olds are available in 25 school districts. Union County districts with free preschool early learning and education programs are Elizabeth and Plainfield.


Special Services School Districts

These districts provide options for preschool students with special needs and were developed to address the educational and developmental needs of children ages 3 to 5. Typically, these districts are comprised of three types of classes: classes that educate 4-year-old students who have special needs in the same classroom as those students who do not have special needs; preschool classes for students with Individualized Educational Programs and the need for smaller group sizes and more individualized programming; and classes with highly specialized instruction for students with autism and students with hearing impairments.


Licensed Preschool Programs

Licensed early learning preschool programs provide early childhood education and care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years.

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