Imagine a preschool room with one teacher standing in the midst of 20 rowdy 3-year-olds. If this sounds more than daunting, you aren’t wrong. In order to ensure the proper care and guidance of the littlest of students licensed child care centers must maintain a standard adult-child ratio. Although this varies by age, the ratio is set to ensure that every child gets enough attention during the course of the school day.
While adult-child ratios may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to maintaining adequate supervision in a child care center, not every site must follow exactly the same recommendations. Adult-child ratios are typically set by licensing agencies such as state child welfare or county department of public welfare offices. Although most ratios are fairly standard, different agencies may require slightly different numbers. This means that if you move from New York City to San Francisco, you shouldn’t necessarily expect to see the same set of ratio rules. Another adult-child ratio that your child’s center may stick to is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation standard. NAEYC accreditation means that the center meets the child development organization’s quality guidelines and isn’t the same as state or local government licensing.
The toddler and his growing sense of independence, coupled with his increased mobility and boundless energy, is a recipe for disaster without the watchful eye of a child care teacher nearby. That said, adult-child ratios for toddlers in day care or other early childhood programs is fairly low. For example, the South Dakota Department of Social Services states that there is a 1:5 adult-toddler ration for licensed centers. NAEYC accredited centers must follow the early childhood education organization’s guidelines as well. These note that the number of adults to children in toddler groups vary by overall class size. If the group size is up to eight children, the teacher to toddler ratio is 1:4. Groups with 10 toddlers must follow a 1:5 ratio, and those with 12 children should maintain a ratio of 1:6.
Your preschooler may have more mature sensibilities than she did as a toddler, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need constant supervision at child care. The more advanced development of a preschool aged child, in comparison to an infant or toddler, often means that the adult to child ratio is higher. For example, while the state of Dakota maintains a 1:5 ratio for toddlers, they have a a 1:10 ratio for kids who are ages 3 through 5-years. NAEYC’s accreditation standards for adult-child preschooler ratios is 1:8 for groups of 16 children, 1:9 for an 18-child class and 1:10 for a group size of 20.
Family Child Care
If you send, or are thinking of sending, your child to a family day care home, the ratios may look slightly different than those in a center-cased program. Like center or school types of programs, family child cares are also subject to licensing standards. Some state or local licensing agencies may set family child care adult-child ratios in terms of home or center size, number of total children in attendance and the age of the children. For example, the state of California allows one adult to provide care to up to six children. If there is at least one child who is 6-years or older and one child in kindergarten or up, the ration moves to 1:8.