Ratios, Masks, and Space Set-up

Information for setting up your family child care home to follow social distancing guidelines

Click the icons below to jump to a section.


The ratios for family child care homes are the same as before COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Small family child care homes: No more than 8 children total.
  • Large family child care homes: No more than 14 children total.
Guidance and Recommendations
  • There should be a stable group of no more than 14 children.
  • Staff who are over 65, have chronic conditions, or who are pregnant are at higher risk. If possible, they should be assigned to work that minimizes contact with other staff, children or visitors.
  • Children with special healthcare needs are also at higher risk. Consult with their parents to identify risks and develop protective strategies. These may include modifications in programming, special training for you and staff, or other steps.
  • Limit visitors as much as possible.

Masks and Protective Wear

Masks are required for everyone in an early learning program, even people who are fully vaccinated. 

The L.A. County Department of Public Health has created signs to post outside of your program to let staff, families, and visitors know that masks are required.

These signs are available in multiple languages.

Mask Guidance:

Photo courtesy of Esperanza Melo
Photo courtesy of Esperanza Melo


  • You must provide face coverings for any assistants or other staff at your program.
  • All staff should wear cloth face coverings (masks) at all times while indoors at work, except when alone in a private office or an enclosed cubicle or when eating. 
  • A clean mask or face coverings should be worn each day. Mask and face coverings should be washed after each use.


The recommended mask type is pleated and fits snugly under your chin.

  • Staff should change clothes whenever bodily secretions land on the fabric. Staff can wear nursing scrubs, aprons, or extra clothing on top of their regular clothes.


  • Infants and toddlers: Children under 24 months old should not wear face coverings.
  • Preschool: Children who are above 24 months through 8 years old should wear face coverings. Supervise children to make sure they can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation.
  • Children with breathing problems should not wear cloth face coverings.


  • Families must wear masks when dropping off and picking up their children.
Best Practices


  • Design your own protective wear.
  • Exaggerate facial expressions with eyes and body gestures.
  • Create a button with a picture of your smiling face to wear.

Children and families

  • Encourage children 24 months to five years old to wear face coverings—be positive!
  • Help children decorate extra face coverings. For example, they could decorate their mask to look like their favorite book character or favorite animal. They can use the decorated mask as their persona for dramatic play.
  • Use gentle approaches and positive re-direction to reinforce mask wearing, such as “Remember to hide your nose!” and “Wearing a mask makes you a superhero!”
  • Be positive with parents/caregivers and children about mask wearing.
Ideas for Your Program

Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Bulletin board about masks

Space Set-up for Social Distancing

Early care and learning programs should maintain social distancing as much as possible. Set up your space to keep children in the program 6 feet apart. 


Take time to think about your environment. Think about how to make it welcoming while staying within guidelines.


Think about the flow between activities during the day and from inside to outside activities.


  • Re-organize your furniture to put six feet between children’s activity stations, tables, and chairs.
  • Place chairs or mats in a circle six feet apart for story time and/or group discussions.
  • Try to have a set-up that lets children see and communicate with each other. 


Arrange tables in a circle or square with children facing in, so that they can be 6 feet apart but still see each other

  • Make individual baskets or crates of supplies for activities for each child. Materials should be cleaned and disinfected at key times throughout the day and at the end of the day.
  • Give children their own tables. Label children’s seats and baskets with their names.
  • Use your outdoor space as much as possible for children’s work and play.
Best Practices
Marked floor to show where to stand
Courtesy of Tuvia School
  • Create stations for individual play, with posters to identify each area. Let children choose their individual play area.
  • Let children decorate and personalize their tables or seats.
  • Place outdoor crates made from safe and durable materials 6 feet apart. Each child can use one crate for pretend play (i.e. cars, trucks, trains).
  • Use colorful and fun items as floor markers spaced 6 feet apart, so children know where to sit or stand.
  • Use gentle approaches and positive redirection to reinforce physical distancing, such as, “Show me your airplane arms!”
  • Use fabrics, potted plants, and shelving to create physical barriers to help children naturally keep physical distance.
  • Set up stations or individual containers of materials for infants to manipulate and play with independently.
  • Give infants and toddlers individual plastic storage bins of toys and manipulatives. Let them reach into the bins to explore and find toys.
  • For shared items: Clean and disinfect all manipulatives, sandbox toys, play surfaces and indoor and outdoor learning equipment between each child playing with them.
Toddler activity station
Courtesty of Mylo Family Child Care
Ideas for Your Program

Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Related Links