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Selecting Quality Care

Indiana has many kinds of child care programs.

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Understanding your options will help you choose the right place for your child and family.

Different families like different kinds of child care programs. In Indiana, you can find safe, high-quality programs in homes, centers and faith-based early learning settings. Programs can vary greatly, and not all have the same health and safety standards.

Program Safety Requirements

Read more below to find out more programs’ diverse safety requirements. The more you know, the more you can feel confident about your choice.

  • Home Settings

    Home settings are called “family child care homes” in Indiana’s regulatory system. They may be required to be licensed by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. However, some home settings may be exempt from this regulation. There are three primary types of family child care homes:

    • Licensed family child care home
    • Not licensed family child care home approved for CCDF vouchers
    • Not licensed – this setting must care for fewer than five unrelated children
  • Religious Settings

    This type of care is offered as an extension of a church or not-for-profit religious organization. Registered ministries are not licensed care, and they may or may not use a faith-based curriculum. Registered ministries can fall within three regulatory options:

    • Registered ministries with a voluntarily certified program designation, often called VCP
    • Registered ministries approved for CCDF
    • Registered ministry
  • Centers

    A facility designed to provide child care for one or more children in a building that is not a home is called a licensed child care center in Indiana’s regulatory system. Child care centers are required to be licensed unless their hours or the ages they serve allow them to be exempt.

  • Preschool and Before- or After-School Programs

    Many of these programs are exempt from licensing. This means that they are not regulated by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. Both preschool and before- or after-school care may be offered in licensed settings such as licensed centers. However, programs that operate less than four hours a day or provide only before- and after-school services are not always regulated or licensed. These programs may choose to become licensed. If they choose to be licensed they would be a licensed center.

  • Public or Private Schools Offering Preschool

    Schools offering kindergarten through 12th grade may offer preschool and pre-kindergarten. These programs may meet additional health and safety requirements, but these requirements are not overseen by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning unless programs accept funding from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).

  • School-Based Programs

    These programs are operated by a local school corporation or private school. They may or not be regulated by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. These programs are not required to have a license in order to operate, unless they choose to consistently serve infants or toddlers.

Safety Comparison Chart Based on Types of Care

Licensed Child Care Center

  • State violation and inspection reports available online

  • Comprehensive federal background checks required on staff

  • Total number of children in a group is limited

  • Ratio of adults supervising children is required

  • First aid training is required of all staff members

  • Caregivers must meet formal educational requirements

  • Caregivers must meet training requirements

  • Eligible to participate in Paths to QUALITY™

Licensed Family Child Care Home

  • State violation and inspection reports available online

  • Comprehensive federal background checks required on staff

  • Total number of children in a group is limited

  • Ratio of adults supervising children is required

  • First aid training is required of all staff members

  • Caregivers must meet formal educational requirements

  • Caregivers must meet training requirements

  • Eligible to participate in Paths to QUALITY™

Registered Ministry with Voluntary Certified Program

  • State violation and inspection reports available online

  • Comprehensive federal background checks required on staff

  • Total number of children in a group is limited

  • Ratio of adults supervising children is required

  • First aid training is required of all staff members

  • Caregivers must meet formal educational requirements

  • Caregivers must meet training requirements

  • Eligible to participate in Paths to QUALITY™

Not Licensed Family Child Care Home

  • State violation and inspection reports available online

  • Comprehensive federal background checks required on staff

  • Total number of children in a group is limited

  • Ratio of adults supervising children is required

  • First aid training is required of all staff members

  • Caregivers must meet training requirements

Ministry Approved for CCDF Vouchers

  • State violation and inspection reports available online

  • Comprehensive federal background checks required on staff

  • Total number of children in a group is limited

  • Ratio of adults supervising children is required

  • First aid training is required of all staff members

  • Caregivers must meet training requirements

Registered Ministry

  • State violation and inspection reports available online

  • Comprehensive federal background checks required on staff

Legally Operating Exempt Home Child Care

  • Practices vary by program, but are not verified for this program type.

Not licensed preschool or before and after school program

  • Practices vary by program, but are not verified for this program type.

Public or Private schools offering full day care

  • Practices vary by program, but are not verified for this program type.

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