Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 1: Staffing

1.1 Child:Staff Ratio, Group Size, and Minimum Age

1.1.1 Child:Staff Ratio and Group Size Ratios for Facilities Serving Children with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities

COVID-19 modification as of August 10, 2022.

After reading the CFOC standard, see COVID-19 modification below (Also consult applicable state licensure and public health requirements).


Facilities enrolling children with special health care needs and disabilities should determine, by an individual assessment of each child’s needs, whether the facility requires a lower child:staff ratio.

COVID-19 modification as of August 10, 2022: 

In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs, it is recommended that early childhood programs: 

  • Follow guidance from your state and local health department as well as your state licensing agency to make decisions on appropriate group sizes.
  • Keep the same group of children (cohort), and staff together each day.
  • Ensure that everyone two years old and older wears a well-fitted mask except when eating or sleeping.  
  • Limit mixing between groups so there is minimal or no interaction between groups or cohorts.
  • The number of cohorts or groups may vary depending on child care program type (centers versus homes) and size, with smaller programs having fewer cohorts than larger ones.
  • Maintain as much distance as possible between children and staff from different cohorts. 
  • Provide physical guides, such as wall signs or tape on floors, to help maintain distance between cohorts in common areas.
  • Stagger use of communal spaces between cohorts.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Guidance Related to Childcare During COVID-19
The child:staff ratio must allow the needs of the children enrolled to be met. The facility should have sufficient direct care professional staff to provide the required programs and services. Integrated facilities with fewer resources may be able to serve children who need fewer services, and the staffing levels may vary accordingly. Adjustment of the ratio allows for the flexibility needed to meet each child’s type and degree of special need and encourage each child to participate comfortably in program activities. Adjustment of the ratio produces flexibility without resulting in a need for care that is greater than the staff can provide without compromising the health and safety of other children. The facility should seek consultation with parents/guardians, a child care health consultant (CCHC), and other professionals, regarding the appropriate child:staff ratio. The facility may wish to increase the number of staff members if the child requires significant special assistance (1).

These ratios do not include personnel who have other duties that might preclude their involvement in needed supervision while they are performing those duties, such as therapists, cooks, maintenance workers, or bus drivers.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Ratios for Small Family Child Care Homes Ratios for Large Family Child Care Homes and Centers
  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, FPG Child Development Institute. The national early childhood technical assistance center.



COVID-19 modification as of August 10, 2022.