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About the Program

Voluntary Registered Nursery Schools and Kindergartens


The New York State Education Department has operated a voluntary registration program for nonpublic nursery schools and kindergartens since 1957.  It replaced a mandatory registration program in effect from 1939 to 1948 when mandatory registration was struck down by the New York State Court of Appeals.

Definition of School

Part 125.1(a) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education defines nonpublic nursery schools and kindergartens as schools that are:

  • organized for the purpose of educating a group or groups of six or more children less than seven years old;
  • under supervision of qualified teachers;
  • providing an adequate program of learning activities; and
  • maintaining good standards of health and safety.

Onsite Visits Required (CR 125.2 Revised by Regents in 2005)

  • new applicants
  • schools near end of certification period
  • schools with new owners
  • schools with new construction or major renovations
  • follow-up on regulatory compliance issues

Typical Program Schedules

  • part day/five days per week (no more than 3 hours per session per day)
  • part day/split sessions (i.e., MWF or TuTh)
  • full day/five days per week (if more than three consecutive hours per session per day, must be licensed by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) upstate and by the Department of Health (DOH) in New York City
  • extended day (more than three hours per session, per day, must be licensed by OCFS or DOH)

Program Variations

  • nursery schools
  • formal kindergartens (prepare students for first grade)
  • parent cooperatives
  • Montessori method
  • mixed age groupings (3 - 5 year olds)