Job & Family Services Early Learning and Development
Child Care In Ohio

 How Can ODJFS Help Me With Child Care?

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) licenses Ohio Early Learning and Development programs and helps caretakers (parents, guardians or custodians) who are working or in school pay for child care through the Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) program.  To obtain additional information on eligibility for publicly funded child care, please click here.  

Ohio law defines "child care" as administering to the needs of infants, toddlers, preschool-age children and school-age children outside of school hours by persons other than their caretakers on a less than twenty four hour basis. In a place other than a child's own home, except that an in-home aide provides child care in the child's own home.   Some types of child care must be regulated in Ohio; other types of child care may operate without a license.  Ohio Law defines an ODJFS "licensed child care program" as any of the following: a child day care center, a Type A family day-care home, or a Type B family day-care home.

Licensed programs are inspected prior to and after receiving an ODJFS license and must verify compliance with state and federal requirements. In addition, programs will also be investigated in response to complaints received through ODJFS.  

Parents can search the ODJFS Search For Early Learning and Development Programs page here to look for licensed child care programs by county, city, zip code, program type, Step Up To Quality rating and  program specific information.  These search results will include program information, licensure details, and ODJFS inspection results.  

What Types of Child Care Are Right For Me?  

While searching for a child care provider, it is important to understand the different types of care available so the provider you choose can meet you and your child’s care needs.  Child care provider options can include:  

Child Care Centers -7 or more children at one time.   

 Family Child Care Type A Homes -7 to 12 children (or 4 to 12 children if 4 children are under 2 years of age) cared for in the provider’s home. The provider's own children under 6 years of age must be included in the total count.  

 Family Child Care Type B homes serving children through the publicly funded child care program - 1 to 6 children cared for in the provider's personal home. No more than three children may be under the age of two. The provider's own children under six years of age must be included in the total count.  Please note: anyone can provide care for no more than 6 children or no more than 3 children under the age of 2 years in their home without a license, however, in order to receive payment for serving families eligible for PFCC, the Type B home provider must be licensed by ODJFS.  

Ohio Department of Education (ODE) licensed early care and education programs- such as licensed preschool programs and licensed school-age child programs which are operated by a school district board of education, an eligible non-public school, a county board of developmental disabilities, or a community school. 

Child day camps - are programs which care for only school age children and operate for less than seven hours each day during the time school is not in session, and conducts at least 50% of its program outdoors. Child day camps must register with ODJFS each year. To receive payment for serving children in publicly funded child care, the child day camp must be accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA) and submit their ACA certificate annually along with the day camp registration.  

What Are the Benefits of a Licensed Program?  

A licensed program can provide a caretaker and child with regulated, quality care through state and federal requirements monitored by ODJFS, ODE or the ACA for compliance.  This can include health and safety, staff Professional Development training, CPR and First Aid, background checks, and additional monitoring inspections, as needed.  In addition, children can receive additional early learning supports through the participation of licensed programs in Ohio’s 5-star Quality Rating and Improvement System, Step Up To Quality. Step Up To Quality recognizes learning and development programs that exceed licensing health and safety standards, family and community engagement, health promotion, staff professional development, and child development standards.  

An unlicensed program is a program that is not monitored by any entity and is not required to meet any standards of safety, health, staffing, or early learning. Unlicensed programs can include:  

  •   Care provided in a child's own home;
  •   Programs which operate two weeks or less a year;
  •   Programs where parents remain on the premises (unless at the parent's employment site);
  •   Program offering specialized training in specific subjects, such as art, drama, dance, swimming, etc.;
  •   Programs which operate one day a week for no more than six hours.

When Searching for Child Care, What Steps Should Be Taken?  

  • Use the Child Care Search tool on the ODJFS website to search for a program that interests you and view inspection reports. 
  • Visit the program to review:
    • The care environment
    • Program activities
    • Staffing
    • Emergency Procedures 
    • Early Learning and Development Curriculum   
    • License Status
    • Step Up To Quality Rating
  • Contact the programs with additional questions or concerns.

 Where can I find Additional Information about Quality Child Care?  

 BOLD Beginning!

Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA)   

National Association for the Education of Young Children has a voluntary accreditation program for child care centers who wish to meet quality standards that go above and beyond basic licensing requirements. See individual center listings for more details.  

 Ohio Head Start Association, Inc Head Start is a federally funded comprehensive early childhood program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. Visit www.ohsai.org for more information and a listing of Ohio’s Head Start programs.

National Association for Family Child Care has a voluntary accreditation program for type B family day care homes. Visit their web site for more information about their organization and its services to family day care providers.