Child Care Centers & Programs provide care for groups of children outside of a residential setting. Children are usually grouped by age. Types of centers include: child care, Early Head Start/Head Start, State pre-kindergarten, Preschools, school-age programs and summer programs.

Licensed Child Care Centers must meet Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) standards for health and safety including child to staff ratios and required space per child. 

Illinois also recognizes License-Exempt Child Care Centers, such as those serving children 3 years and older and operated by public or private elementary or secondary schools, faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education, or other accredited schools registered with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Since these settings are not licensed they are not held to standards for health and safety, staff to child ratios or maximum group size set by IDCFS. 

Possible Advantages of Child Care Centers

  • More children of same age means more playmates for your child
  • Typically, activities are planned for each age group
  • Many have Preschool programs
  • Staff has education and annual in-service training in child development (licensed setting)


Now you have information on what child care options are available, your next step is to learn what to look for in a quality child care setting