~ Our Mission: To ensure safeguards and enhance quality for children in out-of-home care. ~

For Parents

Child Care Options
In Delaware there are three types of child care available to choose from; family, large family, and centers.View more/less

There are a wide variety of child care and early education programs available to you.

Family Child Care

Family child care is provided in a licensed home for up to 9 unrelated children, depending on their ages. Parents choose family child care because they want to keep their children in a home-like environment. They prefer to relate to a single provider and believe that children are healthier, happier, and more secure in smaller groups. Sometimes they choose family child care because they find it closer to home, less expensive, or more flexible.

Large Family Child Care

Large family child care is provided in a licensed home or commercial building for up to 14 unrelated children, depending on their ages. Parents choose this type of because they want to keep their children in a home-like environment. They prefer to relate to one or two providers and believe that children are healthier, happier, and more secure in smaller groups. Sometimes they choose a large family child care home because they find it closer to home, less expensive, or more flexible.

Child Care Centers

Child care centers usually provide more structure and include early care and education centers, preschools, and after school programs. Families often choose this type of care because they offer children the opportunity to interact with a larger number of children and adults. Child care centers offer programs to a variety of age groups and vary in terms of educational philosophy, curriculum, costs, and services.

Back to top

Steps to Choosing Quality Care
Here you will find useful information to help you find a child care that offers quality.View more/less

Research tells us that young children from birth to five years of age who receive quality care and education are fundamentally more prepared for their futures, especially school. Early experiences in life, specifically under the age of five, affect the development of the brain and lay the foundation for intelligence, emotional health, and moral development throughout these childhood years.  Therefore, in order for your child to grow into a happy, well-adjusted adult, he or she must have the opportunity to develop and learn these skills early in life.

Quality care should give your child a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment by a well-trained and experienced adult. High-quality child care is important for healthy development of children and school preparation. No one has a greater impact on the quality of care than the people who work daily with children.
Many programs participate in Delaware Stars which is a voluntary quality rating system.  These facilities are ranked and monitored by Delaware Stars and often exceed licensing requirements. To learn more about using Delaware Stars to find quality programs to give your kids a great start, go to the Office of Early Learning’s website: www.greatstartsdelaware.com.

Questions to Ask When Selecting Care

The first question to ask when interviewing someone to provide child care is: “Are you licensed by the State of Delaware?” Licensed providers are required to post their license in a prominent place where visitors can view it.  They and their family members have had criminal background checks and are monitored by the Office of Child Care Licensing.  Please do not place your child in an unlicensed facility.

Use these Questions to Consider When Choosing Child Care to help you choose a  good place for your child to attend.

Back to top

Search for Child Care
Locate licensed child cares and view compliance and complaint histories for the past three years.View more/less

Selecting the right care for your family is a very important decision and there are many things to consider. This site provides information to help parents make a more informed choice. It is important to note that the Office of Child Care Licensing’s Child Care Search only provides a snap shot view of provider’s complaints and compliance reviews for the past 3 years. It also shows if a child care is on an enforcement action for failing to comply with licensing rules.

Unannounced monitoring visits for family and large family child care homes are conducted at least yearly.  Centers receive an announced visit each year.  Programs on enforcement actions receive an unannounced visit every other month to monitor compliance with licensing rules.  Complaint investigations are made unannounced.  Programs participating in Delaware Stars receive additional oversight and technical assistance. 

If you are looking for a provider who is not listed on this site, please contact us at 1-800-822-2236.

If you want to review the complete licensing file, please contact your local Office of Child Care Licensing at 302-892-5800 (NCC) or 302-739-5487 (Kent and Sussex).

Back to top

Paying for Child Care
Learn about Purchase of Care.View more/less

Paying for good child care can be a struggle. In fact, child care is probably the second largest expense in a budget after housing expenses.  The average cost of child care in Delaware is $640 per month. This cost can vary depending on the number and ages of the children, location, and type of care desired.

Purchase of Care (POC) is a program that helps low-income families pay for their child care. This service supports families with young children so that the parent or guardian can hold a job or attend a training program.  If you are working, you may have to pay a portion of your child care expenses.

If you are found to be eligible for POC, you may choose your child care provider from the following options:

  • A state licensed center
  • A state licensed family or large family child care home
  • A license-exempt provider such as a relative

You may get a list of child care centers and homes in your area from the Children & Families First agency at 1-800-734-2388 or your local Division of Social Services (DSS) office.  DSS will also be able to give you more information on the program rules and fees. If you are interested in participating in POC, please contact your local DSS office or the DE Help Line at 1-800-464-4357.

Back to top

Child Care Regulations
View the regulations that licensed facilities must follow.View more/less

Assistance Programs Available for your Family
Learn about assistance options offered by the Division of Social Services.View more/less

Visit the Division of Social Services for information about Cash Assistance, General Assistance, Refugee Cash Assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid (CHIP), Food Supplement Programs- Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) School and Community Nutrition Programs, Community Food and Nutrition Programs, Child Care, and Income and Eligibility.  You can apply online for many of these services  as well as for health care coverage, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and the Food Bank by visiting ASSIST.

Back to top

Head Start and Early Head Start Programs
Learn about programs that prepare children from low-income families to get ready for school View more/less

Head Start is a federal program that helps children from birth to age five from low-income families by providing a positive learning environment.  Please visit benefits.gov to learn more about these programs and their requirements and to locate a program near you. 

Back to top

Useful Links

These websites may be used to enhance your program, provide you with information, and help answer questions you may have.