Child Care Options

Licensed Child Care Centers provide care for infants through school-age children in various settings, including community centers, faith-based centers, and other facilities. They are annually inspected by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to ensure compliance with the Minimum Standards for Day Care Centers and Nighttime Centers.

Licensed Family Child Care Homes and Family Group Homes are licensed by DHR if they provide care for one or more unrelated children, with or without compensation, for more than four hours in a 24 hour period. Family Child Care Homes provide care for no more than six unrelated children in the caregiver’s home while Family Group Homes provide care for no more than 12 unrelated children with two or more caregivers present.

Exempt Child Care Centers include faith-based, school-based, and other child care centers that are not licensed by DHR. They must still meet the Minimum Standards, including child health and safety, and staff criminal background checks. They are not required to meet state requirements for staff-to-child ratios, or First Aid and CPR training.

Preschool/Mother’s Day Out Programs are part-time child care programs that typically operate three to four hours a day, a few days a week for children ranging from infants through four-year-olds. Programs that operate less than four hours are not licensed by DHR but still must adhere to theMinimum Standards for child health and safety.

School-Age Care can take place in child care centers, schools, and community centers. Care is typically available before and after school, school holidays, and summer vacation. School-age care often includes children in kindergarten through 13 years of age.

Relative Care includes a relative of the family caring for a child, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.

In-Home Child Care is care provided in the child’s home by a baby-sitter or nanny.

Early Head Start and Head Start are federal child care programs that include parent eligibility requirements to enroll. Early Head Start serves families with children pre-birth to three years of age, while Head Start serves children three to five-year-olds. Click here to find an Early Head Start or Head Start program.

First Class Pre-K is Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary pre-k program administered by the Office of School Readiness (OSR), a division of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. OSR funds First Class Pre-K classrooms for four-year-olds in various settings, including public schools, Head Start programs, and child care and faith-based centers. Click here to find a First Class Pre-K classroom.