Selecting a child care arrangement for your child can seem to be an overwhelming task. There are many factors to consider including types of care, price, availability, and location. Families’ needs and priorities must not be overlooked. Plan to spend as much time as possible to explore the options available. Please keep in mind that Child Care Aware of New Hampshire provides referrals NOT recommendations. We do not endorse any specific program or provider. It is a family’s responsibility to choose the option that best suits your needs and those of your child. The information below and quality indicators can help you with this choice. Quality indicators include immunization requirements, child-staff ratios and group size, staff qualifications and ongoing training requirements, positive discipline policies, and child abuse/neglect prevention. Health & safety indicators can include routine fire drills, medication policies, emergency plans, playground safety, and hand washing/hygiene policies. If you have any questions please contact one of our Regional Outreach Offices. We’re here to help!
Types of Licensed Child Care
|Group Child Care Agency||A center-based child care program that cares for 1 or more children ages 3 to 6 years of age, up to 4 of whom may be younger than 3 years of age, plus 5 children enrolled in a full-day school program.|
|Family Child Care Homes
|A child care program operated in a home in which the provider resides. In a family child care home one provider may care for a maximum of 6 preschool children plus up to 3 children who are enrolled in a full-day school program. The number of children younger than 36 months of age and 24 months of age that may be cared for is limited.|
|Family Group Child Care Home
|A child care program operated in a home in which the provider resides. In a family group child care home one provider and one family child care worker or assistant may care for 7 to 12 preschool children plus up to 5 children enrolled in a full-day school program. The number of children younger than 36 months of age that may be cared for is limited.|
|Preschool Program||A center-based child care program that provides care and a structured program for children ages 3 years of age and older who are not attending a full day school program. Preschool programs can care for children up to 5 hours per day.|
|Infant/Toddler Program (Child Care Nursery)||A center-based child care program that cares for 5 or more infant and toddlers under three years of age.|
|Night Care||A center-based, family or family group child care program that provides care during the evening or night time hours between 7:00 PM and 6:00 AM. The type of center-based family will determine the limits on ages and numbers of children or family group child care program issued.|
|School-Age Program||A family or family group child care program that elects to care for 6 or more school age children who are enrolled in a half-day program, or a center-based child care program that cares for 6 or more children ages 4 years and 8 months of age or older who are enrolled in a kindergarten or full-day school program. School age programs can care for children up to 5 hours before or after school and all day during school vacations.|
Child Care Center Information
Group Size and Ratio
|Age of Child||Child – Adult Ratio
(Number of children per adult)
(Maximum number of children per room)
|6 Weeks to 12 months||4 – 1||12|
|13 – 24 months||5 – 1||15|
|2 years||6 – 1||18|
|3 years||8 – 1||24|
|4 years||12 – 1||24|
|5 years +||15 – 1||30|
When there are mixed ages in the same group, the ratio is based on the average age of children in the group. Infants may be included in the mixed age groups with children over age three with certain restrictions, and the maximum number of children under age three allowed in a mixed age group is 16.
If you have questions regarding ratios, please contact the Child Care Licensing Unit at (603) 271-9025.
Center Staff Education, Training and Experience
- A center is required to have on staff a Center Director or qualified substitute who has at least 1000 hours of work experience with young children and the approved equivalent of an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education.
- Lead Teachers are required to have a high school diploma and at least 18 credits in Early Childhood Education or equivalent. There must be 1 qualified teacher per every 6 staff members.
- Associate Teachers must have a high school diploma and at least 9 credits in early childhood education or its approved equivalent.
- Child care assistants or aides must be at least 16 years old and must always be under the direct supervision of an associate teacher.
- The director or substitute of a school-age program must be on-site during all operating hours when the program is open 5 hours or less, and 2/3 of the day when open more than 5 hours (holidays). An associate teacher must be present for the other 1/3 of operating hours.
- The director (or substitute) of a center, nursery, preschool program or night care agency must be present for 2/3 of daily operating hours.
- NH currently requires 18 hours per year of ongoing training in early education for all center staff.
- At least one staff member certified in Infant/Child CPR and First Aid must be on the premises at all times.
Head Start and Early Head Start Programs
Head Start and Early Head Start programs help eligible young children ages birth through five. Families enrolled in these programs do not pay a tuition fee. To learn more information and requirements for eligibility for Head Start and Early Head Start click here.
Family or Family Group Child Care Homes
- Family child care homes with one provider may generally care for 6 preschool children and 3 school-age children, with no more than 4 children under 36 months, of which no more than 2 children may be under 24 months of age.
- Family group child care providers who work with an assistant may care for up to 12 preschool children and often 5 school-age children, and no more than 4 children may be under 36 months of age.
- Family child care providers who are under age 21 must complete a Child Care Licensing Unit’s approved child care curriculum. This is not required of providers age 21 and over.
- NH currently requires 18 hours per year of ongoing training in early childhood education for family child care providers.
- Family child care providers must be certified in Infant/Child CPR and First Aid.
Types of License-Exempt Child Care
Facility-Based Child Care
- Kindergartens, nursery schools, or any other daytime programs operated by a public or private elementary or secondary school system or institution of higher learning.
- Municipal recreation programs, including after-school and summer recreation programs.
- Any recreational program as defined in RSA 170-E:2, XI-a, namely any before and/or after school, vacation, or summer youth program for children 6 years of age or older offered by a school or religious group, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls, Incorporated, the YMCA, or the YWCA, provided that the program:
- Does not operate in a private home;
- Notifies parents or guardians that the program is not subject to licensure under RSA 170-E:4; II
- Has policies and procedures to address the filing of grievances by parents and guardians; and
- Is a member in good standing and in compliance with the national organization’s minimum standards and procedures.
Family Child Care (Family, Friend, or Neighbor)
- Private homes in which any number of the provider’s own children, whether related biologically or through adoption, and up to 3 additional children are cared for regularly for any part of the day, but less than 24 hours, unless the caregiver elects to comply with the provisions of this chapter and be licensed.
- Private homes in which the only children in care are the provider’s own children, children related to the provider, and children residing with the provider.
Programs that fall into this category and are enrolled to accept DHHS NH Child Care Scholarship are required to receive an annual health and safety motoring visit from the Child Care Licensing Unit. These programs have separate regulations that need to be followed.
Licensing is not required under the following conditions
- When care is provided in the child’s own home
- When a provider is caring for up to three children not including their own
- When programs are run by an approved private or public elementary schools and are regulated by the NH Department of Education
- When children’s programs are run and regulated by other government programs (Army, etc.)
- When it is a camp, summer or recreational program for school age children
License-Exempt Child Care Homes
- Home based providers caring for no more than 3 children other than their own.
- Accept State Child Care Scholarship.
- Have successfully submitted a Criminal Record Check.
- Are over the age of 18 with a high school diploma or GED.
- Are certified in pediatric CPR and First aid.
- License-Exempt providers must take 10 health and safety courses upon enrollment to the program.
- License-Exempt providers must complete four hours of annual ongoing training per year. Two must be in the health and safety topics, and two must be in other DHHS specified topics.