Families are children's first and most important teachers. Families' involvement in children's learning at home as well as in child care and early learning programs can impact lifelong health and child development.

Child care and early learning providers and teachers play a central role in partnering with families on their children's learning and development. Therefore, it is important that families have access to information to help them make the right choices when selecting child care programs. There are many types of child care and early learning providers in New Jersey. When choosing a child care provider that fits the needs of your child and your family, there are many factors to consider. This page gives you important information on the different types of child care available, including some basic information on how these programs are regulated. For more information on licensing requirements, visit our Licensing page.
 
If you receive benefits through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), you can use any licensed child care center, registered family child care provider, approved home (in-home and family, friend and neighbor provider), school-based program or summer youth camp that is approved by the state and that accepts state payments.

If you get help paying for child care through Work First New Jersey – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (WFNJ/TANF), Transitional Child Care (for former WFNJ recipients), Post Adoption Child Care, Child Protective Services (CPS) or Kinship Child Care, you also must use a CCAP-eligible provider.

CCAP-eligible providers must meet Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Family Development (DFD) requirements to qualify for funding and are required to comply with the requirements under the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act. If you would like more information about these federal requirements, visit the Administration for Children and Families website.

You can search for child care in your area and view inspection reports by visiting our child care search page or by contacting your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency.

Select a provider type from below to learn more:

Approved Home Providers

In-Home Providers
An in-home provider is an individual who comes to your home to care for your child(ren). This may be just for an evening or as a full-time care arrangement. 
 
If you are receiving benefits through the Child Care Assistance Program, and choose this type of care, you must use an approved home in-home provider. The selected individual is required to meet health and safety standards, including training, comprehensive criminal background checks, monitoring and annual inspections. They can serve no more than two unrelated children for fewer than 24 hours of care per day, in the in the child’s home. Children must be 13 years old or younger (unless there is a verified disability that qualifies a child to receive care up to the age of 19). 

Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) Providers
This type of care is specific the Child Care Assistance Program. It allows families to choose relatives or non-relatives to care for their children while using CCAP benefits. The selected individual is required to meet health and safety standards, including training, comprehensive criminal background checks, monitoring and annual inspection. They can care for no more than two unrelated children for fewer than 24 hours per day in the provider’s home. Children must be must be 13 years old or younger (unless there is a verified disability that qualifies a child to receive care up to the age of 19). 

Family Child Care Providers

A family child care provider cares for no more than five non-resident children, 13 years old or younger (unless there is a verified disability that qualifies a child to receive care up to the age of 19), at any one time in the providers home.

Providers may choose to become voluntarily registered through their Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. Registered providers are required to meet health and safety standards, including training, comprehensive criminal background checks, monitoring and annual inspections and staffing requirements. To use your CCAP benefits with a family child care provider, the provider must be registered.

Child Care Centers

Child care centers provide care for six or more children, under 13 years old, for less than 24 hours a day. They are licensed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Office of Licensing (OOL). Child care centers are required to meet health and safety, program and staffing requirements. To use your CCAP benefits at a child care center, the program must be licensed. 

If you only need before- and/or after-school care, you can use an eligible school-age program licensed through New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families, Office of Licensing that accepts CCAP payments.

Summer Youth Camps

Summer youth camps are licensed under the Youth Camp Safety Act of New Jersey and possess a certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH). Inspections of summer youth camps are conducted by both the DOH and local departments of health. Summer youth camps provide services wholly or in part for recreational and educational purposes to five or more children up to the age of 18.
 
They operate for a period or portion of at least two days or more during the same week and include at least one high-risk activity during the operation period. An activity is considered high-risk if it exposes a camper to a serious injury because of the inherent nature of the activity and always requires a high degree of adult supervision.
 
If you using benefits through the Child Care Assistance Program, you must use a summer youth camp that has been evaluated and approved by DFD or its designee. CCAP will pay for children 13 years old or younger (unless there is a verified disability that qualifies a child to receive care up to the age of 18). CCAP will not pay for residential (sleepaway) summer youth camps. 

Other Types of Care to Consider

There are other types of care available that you may want to consider. However, unless the provider complies with NJ Child Care Assistance Program  (CCAP) and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act rules and regulations, you cannot use CCAP benefits at these providers.
  
Head Start and Early Head Start Programs
Head Start and Early Head Start are free, federally-funded programs that provide comprehensive early learning and childhood development services. Early Head Start programs support pregnant women and families with children younger than age 3 years. Head Start programs serve children between 3 and 5 years old. Early Head Start and Head Start programs may be located in child care centers or family child care homes through agencies in local communities.

Families with incomes below the poverty guidelines are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services. Children from families experiencing homelessness and families receiving public assistance such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are also eligible. Foster children are eligible regardless of their foster family’s income.
 
For more information on this type of care, visit the New Jersey Head Start Association website.
 

Preschool Programs
New Jersey funds free preschool programs referred to as the state’s Preschool Expansion program, which are located in 118 school districts. The preschool programs provide a full-day program to all 3- and 4-year-olds who live in those districts and choose to enroll. Additionally, some private child-care centers and Head Start programs contract with school districts to deliver educational preschool services.  For additional information, contact your school district or visit the NJ Department of Education's Early Childhood Education website.
 

License-Exempt Child Care
This is a facility that is deemed exempt from licensing regulation and not regulated by the Department of Children and Families’ Office of Licensing, including:

  • Programs operated by local public school districts;

  • Private or charter schools which are solely run for educational purposes offering elementary education in grades kindergarten through 6th, 7th or 8th and their kindergarten, pre-kindergarten or a child care center are an integral part of the private educational institution or system; and

  • Faith-based organizations.

 

Finding Quality Child Care Checklist

checklist.pngDownload our printable Finding Quality Child Care checklist (English | en español) to use when looking for a child care or early learning program.



The CCAP will not pay for care at a license-exempt provider.

 

9/21/23