Child Care Providers: Safe Child-Staff Ratio and Group Size

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Topic Overview

The number of children per adult care provider is one thing that reflects the quality and safety of a child care setting. Total group size also matters. The guidelines for these factors vary by the child's age. They also vary by the type and size of the child care center.

The guidelines for group child care centers are shown in the table.footnote 1

Safe child-staff ratio and group size for group child care

Children's ages

Maximum child-to-staff ratio

Maximum group size

12 months or younger

3 to 1


13 to 35 months

4 to 1


3 years

7 to 1


4 years

8 to 1


5 years

8 to 1


6 to 8 years

10 to 1


9 to 12 years

12 to 1


Related Information



  1. American Academy of Pediatrics et al. (2011). Staffing. In Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards—Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, 3rd ed., pp. 2–45. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics

Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014

Current as of: September 9, 2014