Anyone who lives in New York and has young children, or who is thinking of having children, needs to understand how child care services are regulated by the state. Child care includes not only babysitters, but nannies, family day care, and group family day care, among other providers. Some are highly regulated in New York; others are not.
Whatever type of child care a family needs, they are likely to have some questions about New York laws. Here's an overview of some of the more common issues.
Does New York Regulate Babysitters?
A babysitter in New York is a person who sporadically cares for other's children. They may be a family member, a neighbor or a stranger. The babysitter can expect to be paid or they might be "sitting" for free. Sometimes babysitters are quite young, like high school age or even younger.
New York state imposes very few rules on babysitters. It does not require a babysitter to earn or obtain a license of any kind. What about a minimum age? Although some states set a minimum age for a babysitter, New York is not one of them.
Are There Babysitting Classes in New York?
The American Red Cross offers babysitting and child care courses. These classes are intended to prepare those taking the course with important skills and techniques that every babysitter should be familiar with. In New York, the classes are intended for babysitters 11 years old and up who have little child care experience.
The Red Cross makes these courses available in-person training in a group setting. But they are also offered online for those who prefer to learn on their own time. The classes cover core child-care topics like basic care for infants and children, basic first aid, aspects of child behavior, what to do in emergencies, and suggestions for age-appropriate activities.
In New York, the Red Cross offers several online New York babysitter certification classes including Babysitting Basics, and Advanced Child Care. Although they offer certificates to those who complete them, these babysitting classes in New York are not intended for state-licensed child care providers. Moreover, they do not meet all state requirements for such state-licensed child care certification.
What to Know Before Hiring a Nanny
Before hiring a nanny to care for minor children in New York, be sure to get an overview of the rights of a nanny and the responsibilities of someone hiring one. Nannies fall into the category of "domestic employees," so families who hire them must follow tax, wage and labor laws at the federal, state and local levels. Failure to follow these laws can lead to fines and penalties even for unintentional violations.
New York was the first state to pass a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. The law covers full-time workers and requires employers to provide, among other things:
- Pay of at least minimum wage and overtime at time and a half.
- At least three paid days off after one year of employment with the same employer.
- One day of rest each week.
- Unemployment insurance.
- Workers’ compensation for full-time workers.
- Disability insurance for non-work-related injuries and illnesses, including pregnancy.
- Written notice on work policies including sick leave, vacation, holidays, pay rates and more.
Minimum Wages for Nannies
All domestic employees including nannies are entitled to either the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 an hour or the state or local rate, if it is higher. In New York in 2022, the state minimum wage is $13.20 an hour, which translates to $528 for a 40-hour week and $27,256 per year.
Any municipal minimum wages that are higher will trump the state wage. In New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, for example, the current minimum wage is $15 an hour.
Paid Leave for Nannies
New York’s Paid Family Leave program applies to nannies. It requires employers to provide paid leave for various family or medical reasons. Employees who work more than 80 hours in a calendar year receive two paid days off to care for themselves or for close family members when they become ill. They also get three additional paid days off from the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.
What Is Family Day Care?
Anyone who is paid to take care of three or more children on a daily basis for more than three hours per day in New York is considered a day care facility. They must obtain a license and register with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to operate a day care facility, even if it occurs in their home.
A family day care in New York is a place where the provider takes cares of three to six children for money on a regular basis at a residence. The children being watched can range in age from 6 weeks to 12 years of age, except there can be no more than two children under the age of 2 at the same time.
If all of the children are older than 2, New York allows the caregiver to also care for two additional school-aged children who are in kindergarten or higher. This is true only if the care is provided before or after school, on school holidays or during the time when school in not in session.
What Is Group Family Day Care?
In New York, group family child care occurs when a provider cares for seven to 12 children for money on a regular basis. This kind of provider is required by state law to register as a group family day care with the Office of Children and Family Services, and to hire at least one assistant. In total, there must be one caregiver for every two children under age 2.
If a 2-year-old child is included in the child care program, the day care center cannot have more than 10 children. Otherwise, the maximum capacity is 12, and the provider can care for two additional school-aged children when school is not in session.
Day care facilities in New York must follow all of the state's child care regulations and policies. The Office of Children and Family Services registers a provider’s day care if the applicant complies with all of the legal requirements including training requirements. The registrar visits and inspects the applicant’s home to be sure it meets safety requirements. The registration is valid for up to two years.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.