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Types of Child Care

Child care is delivered in many settings, known as a mixed delivery system.  Your family can make informed decisions by understanding the types of child care available in Alaska. Here are the types of child care available to your family:

Child Care Center

  • Cares for 13 or more children with enough staff to maintain specific child-to-caregiver ratios.
  • Children’s ages can vary from a few weeks old to age 18.
  • May have multiple classrooms where children are grouped by age.

Family Child Care

  • Cares for up to eight children, including the caregiver’s own children, in the caregiver’s home.
  • Children of varying ages are grouped together.

Family Child Care – Group Home

  • Cares for up to 12 children in the caregiver’s home, or residential property, with at least two licensed caregivers.
  • May have a group of children of mixed ages, or children grouped by age.

Preschool Program

Head Start/Early Head Start

  • Cares for children from low-income families.
  • Promotes school readiness through the support of mental, social, and emotional development of children from birth to age 5.

School-Age Program

  • Cares for nine or more children of school-age.
  • Operates on enrollment or drop-in basis.

Summer Camp/Program

  • Offers broad range of indoor and outdoor environmental education experiences for children of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Schedules range from regular weekday business hours to overnight camp experiences.
  • Regulated by state and/or federal guidelines, and may be accredited by the American Camp Association.


thread‘s child care referrals are for licensed programs only.

It’s important to understand a child care license is issued by the State of Alaska Department of Health & Human Services, or your local municipality, and should not be confused with a business license.

For an early childhood education program to become licensed through the State of Alaska or the Municipality of Anchorage, it must:

  • Complete a federal background check for each adult present.
  • Follow state health and safety standards.
  • Undergo an annual monitoring visit to ensure standards are met.
  • Ensure one person with a current CPR and first aid card is on duty at all times.
  • Maintain specific child-to-caregiver ratios determined by the type of care.
  • Ensure each staff member receives 24 hours of child development training per year.