Hire a Friend or Family Member as your Child’s Provider

Children with chalk of various colors

The Complete Guide to Legally Exempt Child Care

Many families have unique schedules that require various types of child care. Legally Exempt child care is a great option for those families. This program allows parents to hire close, dependable, reliable friends and family members as their child’s care providers. These hired friends and family members are called Legally Exempt child care providers, who are also eligible to receive child care assistance program payments, or daycare assistance, from the county they perform their services in.

Is Legally Exempt child care legal? 

Yes, Legally Exempt child care is legal and recognized by both Erie County and New York State. Child Care Resource Network administers and regulates this program for all of Erie County, NY. Legally Exempt care is unregulated child care; it is not registered or licensed by Child Care Resource Network or the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Providers who care for children receiving a child care assistance program from the Department of Social Services must meet basic health and safety regulations and are enrolled by Child Care Resource Network.

How many children can a Legally Exempt provider care for?

Legally Exempt providers can only care for two (2) non-related children and/or 8 related children at one time. 

How much money does a Legally Exempt provider make?

The amount paid by the county (in instances where a child care assistance program is present) and/or by the parent(s) depends on a number of factors. Please contact our Legally Exempt department for more information.

Where does Legally Exempt care take place?

Legally Exempt providers care for children in a residence or home.

Application and Enrollment

What is the easiest way to enroll as a Legally Exempt provider?

Before you do anything, call our Legally Exempt Department at 716-877-6666 x 2994 to speak with a Legally Exempt Specialist.

I’m ready to start the process. How does a parent hire a friend or family member to become their child’s care provider?

  • To start the Legally Exempt process, the parent of the child MUST first go downtown to the Day Care Unit of Erie County’s Department of Social Services located at 95 Franklin Street, Room 449, Buffalo, NY 14202. The office may be reached at 716-858-8953 and is open from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.
  • If the parent is looking to receive monetary assistance a Child Care Assistance Program case MUST be established with the Erie County Department of Social Services (DSS).
  • The parent must then choose their child care provider. This is usually a close friend, family member, or neighbor they know and trust. 
  • Once the parent has chosen a Legally Exempt provider, the parent AND the provider must complete an application together. The application may be mailed to Child Care Resource Network or delivered in person to our offices at 1000 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14216.
  • A Legally Exempt Specialist will go over the application with the parent and provider.
  • Once the application has been accepted and approved, it will take approximately 6-8 weeks to begin receiving payment.

Parents and potential Legally Exempt Providers can learn more on the OCFS website, and also obtain the forms they Need here.


Click here for the Legally Exempt Application.