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

As of June 15, 2020, all Delaware families may access child care and all licensed child care providers may operate, provided they follow applicable DELACARE regulations as well as the additional health and safety requirements developed by the Office of Child Care Licensing and the Division of Public Health.

Families in need of child care may use the Office of Child Care Licensing "search for child care" map, recognizing that not all providers may have reopened at this time or may have limited enrollment or hours. Please contact the program directly to inquire about their current availability of care.

For more information about child care during COVID-19, providers and families should go to coronavirus.delaware.gov/child-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.

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Steps to Choosing Licensed Quality Care
Find useful information to locate licensed quality child care. View more/less

The Office of Child Care Licensing encourages parents/guardians to do their homework when choosing a quality, licensed child care provider; it is one of the most important decisions you can make for your child. Licensed child care providers offer developmentally appropriate activities to keep kids engaged and educated, as well as to support school readiness and success. Child care regulations include requirements for safety, health, and nutritional requirements, too.

Here are a few items parents/guardians should know as they consider choosing care for their children:

  • Child care is paying someone to provide care for your child outside of your home.
  • There are different types of child care in Delaware including family or large family child care (meaning care is provided in the home of a provider) and center child care (meaning care is provided in a larger, non-home environment).
  • To provide child care in Delaware, all sites must receive a license from the Delaware Office of Child Care Licensing before being able to operate and must have annual checks performed.
  • All family/large family child care providers and center staff must pass background checks.
  • To receive a license and remain licensed, child care providers must comply with specific regulations to help ensure your child is safe and successful.
  • OCCL has a child care search showing the location and recent licensing history of all licensed family child care homes, large family child care homes, and early care and education and school-age centers in our state. There you can see a listing of regulation violations and complaints that were substantiated as well as those that resulted in concerns being cited to help you make an informed choice regarding the best child care placement for your child.
  • You may ask OCCL to see the active record and complaint file of any licensed child care facility in Delaware.
  • A provider’s license must be posted in plain view; providing care to children outside the child’s own home for a fee and without a current license is a violation of Delaware law and has penalties. Allegations regarding possible unlicensed care should be reported to OCCL for investigation.
  • 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.doe.k12.de.us/domain/534.

For more information, please call the Office of Child Care Licensing at 302-892-5800 (New Castle County) or 302-739-5487 (Kent and Sussex counties).

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.

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Search for Child Care
Locate licensed child cares and view compliance and complaint histories for the past five 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 5 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).

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Number of Serious Injuries, Deaths and Child Abuse Cases in Child Care in DE since 2015
Review the annual numbers of injuries that resulted in medical treatment or evaluation, deaths that occurred while a child was in care, and substantiated child abuse casesView more/less

Year

Injuries

Deaths

Child Abuse

2015

164

1

8

2016

173

1

3

2017

247

0

10

2018

191

0

1

2019

215

1

3

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.

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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.

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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. 

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Useful Links

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