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FAQ - Voluntary Registered Nursery Schools and Kindergartens

Q.  What is a voluntary registered nonpublic school?

  • A voluntary registered nonpublic school is a nursery school and/or kindergarten that is defined in Commissioner’s Regulations Part 125 as:
    • Organized for the purpose of educating a group or groups of six or more children less than seven years of age, under the supervision of qualified teachers, providing an adequate program of learning activities and maintaining good standards of health and safety.
    • Registered by the Department upon the submission of satisfactory evidence that it meets the standards set forth in Commissioner’s Regulations. After approval of the application, an onsite visit is made to finalize the registration process.

Q.  What are the basic requirements for becoming a registered nonpublic nursery school or kindergarten?

  • Schools that seek voluntary registration must provide evidence that they:
    • Comply with state and local fire, health, and building codes;
    • Comply with Commissioner’s Regulations, Part 125, in regard to indoor and outdoor facilities; staff qualifications; adult-child ratios; staff health exams, tuberculin tests, CPR, and first aid training; student physical exams and immunizations; meals and snacks; educational program, equipment and materials; and emergency procedures; and
    • Have met the requirements for licensing by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, if services for children under seven are provided for more than three hours per day, per child.

Q.  What additional requirements exist for schools that are a corporation?

  • The Purpose section of the Certificate of Incorporation must authorize the school to operate a "nonpublic nursery school and/or kindergarten." If not, a Certificate of Amendment, including this language, must be submitted with the application; and
  • The New York State Education Department’s Office of Nonpublic Schools must be contacted to initiate the process for securing education corporation status.

Q.  What happens after all state and local requirements have been met?

  • A certificate of registration, valid for a five-year period, signed by the Commissioner of Education and with the embossed seal of the Board of Regents, will be issued to the nonpublic nursery school and/or kindergarten.

Q.  If a registered nursery school and/or kindergarten operates less than 3 consecutive hours, does it need to be licensed?

  • No. Schools that provide a program for children under 6 and operate less than 3 consecutive hours per day, per group are not required to be licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Regional offices license preschools and provide technical assistance and support. See list under Information.

Q.  What is the age requirement for enrolling children in a registered nursery school and/or kindergarten?

  • Children must reach their 3rd, 4th, or 5th birthday by December 1 or the date established by the public school district for entrance to kindergarten in which the child resides.

Q.  Do group (lead or head) teachers in registered nursery schools and/or kindergartens need to be state certified?

  • Part 125.6 (Staff Requirements) lists three options for teachers in registered schools:
    • State certification in early childhood education or equivalent instruction and experience;
    • Two year major in nursery education and three years experience; or
    • Ten years experience and a minimum of 20 credit hours in early childhood education.

Q.  What health information is required for children prior to their attendance/enrollment in a registered nursery school and/or kindergarten?

  • Each child's health file must include (See Student Health Checklist under Forms):  
    • Up to date immunizations;
    • Annual physical examination;
    • Dental examination by a dentist; and
    • Record of allergies or other special physical, mental, social or emotional needs.

Q.  What information must be on file for staff of registered nursery schools and/or kindergartens?

  • Each staff file must include:  
    • Annual physical examination;
    • Tuberculin test results (biennial);
    • Record of professional development including first aid and CPR training; and
    • Staff Background Form (documentation of educational preparation, experience, and certification).

Q.  What is the required adult-child ratio in registered nursery schools and/or kindergartens?

  • In a registered school, at least two adults must be available to each group of children at all times. In addition, the following adult-child ratios must be adhered to (indoors and outside):  
    • Three Year Olds: 1-8
    • Four year olds: 1-10
    • Five year olds: 1-15

Q.  Are registered nursery schools and/or kindergartens required to follow a state curriculum?

  • No. New York State does not have a statewide curriculum for any grade level. However, curriculum guidance materials are available. Contact for more information.

Q.  What other circumstances, in addition to submitting an Annual Report at the end of the school year, require directors to be in contact the Education Department?

  • The Education Department must be contacted when there is a:  
    • Change of ownership of the school or corporation;
    • Expansion or major renovation of indoor or outdoor facilities;
    • Addition or elimination of a class, group or session;
    • Change in educational director or group teacher.