What child care options are available?
4-C refers families to a variety of program types serving children from 0-12 years of age:
- Centers and family child care homes licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Licensed centers may provide full time care or operate as a part time preschool or school age only program.
- Head Start and Early Head Start Programs.
- Preschool For All programs funded by the Illinois State Board of Education.
- License exempt centers and family child care homes. Illinois allows some programs to legally operate without a license. They are not monitored by or held to DCFS health and safety standards. They may be monitored by another entity.
Family Child Care
Family child care providers offer child care in their homes for families looking for a home-like setting. Licensed homes must meet DCFS health and safety standards including child to adult ratios. DCFS requires background checks, training and certification in CPR/First Aid.
- Licensed Family Child Care providers may care for up to eight children (including their own), or up to 12 children with an assistant.
- Licensed Family Child Care Group Home providers may care for up to 16 children (including their own) with the help of a full-time assistant.
- License-Exempt Family Child Care providers may care for three or fewer children (including their own children 12 or younger), or the children from one family.
Child Care Centers & Programs
Child Care Centers provide care for groups of children outside of a residential setting. Children are usually grouped by age. Types of centers include: child care, Early Head Start/Head Start, Preschool For All, preschools, school-age programs, and summer programs.
Licensed Child Care Centers
Must meet Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) standards for health and safety including child to staff ratios and required space per child. For licensed centers the following staff to child ratios and maximum group sizes are set by DCFS.
Licensed centers must meet the following staff to child ratios and maximum group sizes set by DCFS
|Age of Children||Staff to Child Ratio||Maximum Group Size|
|Infants (6 weeks to 14 months)||1 to 4||12|
|Toddlers (15 through 23 months)||1 to 5||15|
|Two Years||1 to 8||16|
|Three Years||1 to 10||20|
|Four Years||1 to 10||20|
|Five Years (Preschool)||1 to 20||20|
|School-Age (Kindergarten and above)||1 to 20||30|
License-Exempt Child Care Centers
include programs serving children 3 years and older and operated by public or private elementary or secondary schools, faith based organizations, institutions of higher education or other accredited schools registered with the Illinois State Board of Education. Since these settings are not licensed they are not held to DCFS licensing standards.