Choosing care for your child is important.

The Child Development Council team is here to help you. Trained Referral Specialists maintain a database of licensed and registered child care providers to assist parents in finding care. Referral Specialists are also available to answer questions about child care options.

There are many different types of child care programs available. Most child care programs charge a fee. Rates vary and financial assistance is available in some circumstances. Referral Specialists can explain important differences and similarities between options such as child to adult ratios. They can also explain New York State regulations, and the training required. They can help you understand the six main child care quality indicators and the ten components of high quality child care for infants and toddlers. They can also talk about costs and ways of making child care more affordable.

Get a child care referral

Choose from the options below to get a child care referral from the Child Development Council. You will be asked to provide information about your family and your child care needs. A referral usually consists of contact information and details for 3 to 15 regulated programs that meet your needs. A Referral Specialist will also be happy to answer any questions you have about child care.

To request a free child care referral, please use one or more of these options:

Tompkins Call (607) 273-0259 or Cortland Call (607) 753-0106
For the most comprehensive and personalized service, please call us during office hours 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.

Visit our office – Walk-in to our offices at 609 West Clinton Street, Ithaca or 100 Grange Place, Cortland from 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. If your time is limited, it is best to call ahead for an appointment to meet with a Referral Specialist.

Request an email referral -Download and complete the Referral Request Form. Email it to A Referral Specialist will complete the search and email your referral packet along with tips on interviewing and selecting a quality program.

Online Child Care Search

The Online Child Care Search includes Day Care Centers, Family and Group Family Day Care providers, and School Age Child Care programs that have chosen to be listed online. Please be sure to read the instructions and HELP section carefully for a successful search.

This service is provided free of charge through funding from the State of New York, United Way, and other public and private contributions. Any identifying information that is provided will be kept confidential and will not be shared with any third party without written permission. The Child Development Council is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of its clients.

The Child Development Council does not recommend any particular program. Information is intended for referral purposes only. It is your right and responsibility to choose the care that best fits your family’s needs.

If you have any comments or concerns about the services you have received from a Referral Specialist at the Child Development Council, please contact the Director of Child Care Resource and Referral at (607) 273-0259 for Tompkins and (607) 753-0106 for Cortland.

Choose the best program for your family

You are encouraged to speak with the programs on your referral list, and visit each one that can possibly meet your needs. Perhaps another call or visit to the Referral Specialist is needed. This is normal; use the service as often as you like. You will receive checklists useful for comparing child care programs. The Referral Specialist will also tell you to trust your instincts along with the checklists.

Regulated Child Care

For information regarding registered Family Day Care Providers or School Age Child Care Programs call 607-273-0259.

For information regarding licensed Group Family Day Care Providers or Day Care Centers call the Syracuse Regional Office of NYS OCFS at 315-423-1202.

To report child abuse and neglect, call 800-342-3720. If you suspect immediate danger to a child or children, call 911.