3. Determining Current Program and Potential Capacities

Now that you have reviewed the ground rules and understand how they apply to your CDC, you are ready to determine current program (posted) and potential capacities.

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Determine the current program (posted) capacity for each module/room.
  • Complete Worksheet 2-A, Part 1 and determine the current program (posted) capacity for your CDC.
  • Apply multi-age and ratio requirements to determine potential capacities in each module by completing Worksheet 2-A, Part 2.
  • Determine if potential capacity exceeds current program (posted) capacity.

Current Program (Posted) Capacity

For every room in a CDC, there should be two small signs posted. One is for fire occupancy load. The other says, “The Maximum Capacity for this module is X.”

Maximum Capacity is the designation on the small signs, but it also means “current program capacity,” which is the technical term used in the Space Census and is used interchangeably with “posted capacity.” However, “current program capacity” is easily confused with all those other capacity terms, which is why you will see it referred to in this course as “current program (posted) capacity.”

Maximum Capacity = Current Program (Posted) Capacity

Guidelines for Determining Current Program (Posted) Capacity

“I’m walking around the center and looking for all those posted signs. What do I do with them? Where is the form I’ll need for recording these numbers?”

Before walking around your CDC, take a look at the following guidelines for determining current program (posted) capacity:

  • Posted numbers for Standard Design Modules automatically mean without staff.
  • If the posted number includes the count for staff, subtract the number of staff before recording. For example, if the sign indicates a capacity of 22 including staff, the posted number of children is 20 (20 children, 2 adults). If a sign does not indicate a breakdown of children and adults, you’ll need to do some research.
  • Posted numbers should allow two group sizes of children in the module according to multi-age and ratio requirements.
  • Check on rooms/modules with infants to ensure the sign reflects 55 sq. ft. per infant.
  • Take a paper copy of Worksheet 2-A, Part 1 to each room/module and record the current program (posted) capacity numbers on it.
Ratio Cluster

Ratio Cluster


Completing Worksheet 2-A, Part 1

Worksheet 2A - Part 1

Worksheet 2A – Part 1

Worksheet 2-A, Part 1 allows you to record current program (posted) capacity for each module in your entire CDC and identifies your total posted module capacity. You must complete a separate Worksheet 2-A for each module in your CDC.

Click here to view a demonstration of this process.

Potential Capacity

“I never knew that our pre-toddler room was originally designed for 32 children. What do I do with that extra space? Can I add more ratio clusters?”

Now that Pamela has determined her current program (posted) capacity, she needs to look at each module and decide (with her team) how many and what ages of children she would like to put in each module. This tentative decision is called potential capacity.

Potential capacity is based on a number of considerations, such as knowledge of ratio, ratio cluster, group size, and multi-age requirements.

Ratio, Ratio Cluster, Group Size, and Multi-age Requirements

Ratio & Size Requirements

Ratio & Size Requirements

When determining potential capacity, you must consider the following requirements:


Ratio and Ratio Cluster Requirements
In a Child Development Center, children are assigned to a primary caregiver. This primary caregiver and the corresponding number of children are called a Ratio Cluster.

The U.S. Army Child & Youth Services has specific requirements as to the number of children of specific ages that can be in one ratio cluster, as shown in the following chart.

Two ratio clusters make up a Group Size (and occupies one Room of a standard design Module). Two Groups make up a Standard Design Module.
Group Size Requirements
In a standard design module, Group Size refers to the number of children who may be in each room of the module at any given time. Each room is a home base for a designated number of children. For example, Susie is free to choose activities throughout Room A and Room B of the module. However, Susie knows she belongs to the group in Room A, where her primary caregiver is assigned and where her cubby is.

In non-standard design rooms, the Maximum Group Size refers to the number of children who can be in one single open space at any given time. If the non-standard design room has been divided by a “physical separation” (which may be furniture such as low, labeled shelves) that still allows for the free flow of children between the sections of the room, the maximum group size refers to the total number of children who can be in each divided area at any given time.

Multi-age Requirements
All rooms/modules in Child Development Center programs are multi-age with a minimum of an 18-month age span. Rooms within modules must also contain the multi-age grouping.

Family-style ratio groupings should not be used. They are neither cost effective nor the best use of space. This type of grouping mixes infants, toddlers, and preschoolers together as in a family home.

  • In rooms/modules not designed specifically as Large Multi-Age Modules, the maximum allowed is 4 ratio clusters. Therefore, very large rooms that hold 40 preschoolers cannot be converted into large rooms now holding 10 ratios of infants. Some installations, for the best of intentions (to accommodate the excess demand waiting list), would like to use those 40 spaces for 10 ratio clusters of infants. This is not good. So, a 40-space preschool module could only ever hold 18 infants/pre-toddlers.
  • The only exception to 4 ratio clusters is in the same standard design centers originally designed to have 46 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. These were built with three roomseach with a home base, and were specifically designed for 6 (not 4!) ratio groups.


Putting It All Together

Let’s review what potential capacity is and why we need to know it.

My head is spinning. Based on the ground rules, I will need to check the following:

  1. All rooms/modules have at least an 18-month age span.
  2. All rooms meet all the ratio requirements in accordance with Army Regulation 608-10.
  3. Rooms contain no more than two ratios per group and no more than two groups (four ratios) per module, even if the space in the room could accommodate more children.
  4. The age groupings within each room are mixed so that all one age is not on one side and the other age on the other side.
  5. Family-style ratio groupings are not being used because we do not have a room in our standard design center that was built specifically for 6 ratio clusters.

That’s right! Check out some other factors to consider when planning potential capacity for each room/module.


Factors to Consider
  • What was each module designed for?
  • How do ratio, ratio cluster, group size, and multi-age requirements apply?
  • What age children would you like in this space?
  • Is there an 18-month age span?
  • What are the ratios and group sizes for those ages and does the module meet the ratio, ratio cluster, group size, and multi-age requirements?
  • Will the current capacities as posted accommodate what you plan?
  • Are any of the posted capacities based on the original (and very outdated) ratios of 5:1 infants, 8:1 toddlers, or 15:1 kindergartners?
  • Does this plan work for your budget?
  • Does your building design (e.g., placement of playground or water sources for diapering stations) have any impact?
  • What does the waiting list look like?
  • Is there an appropriate mix of ages served throughout the entire center?
  • Does this meet the needs of the community?



For example, toddler room 3 allowed 32 children, and now it will hold a maximum of 24 toddlers. In some cases, the ratios changed, and there is also the 18-month age span requirement. This might affect your adjusted design capacity numbers. Here’s a comparison:
Ratio Changes Infant Toddler
  Old New Old New
  0-18 mo. 0-12 mo. 18-36 mo. 18-36 mo.

Using old ratio numbers, Module 3 capacity would have 4 ratios of toddlers: 8 x 4 = 32

Using new ratio numbers, the maximum potential for Module 3 for toddlers is as follows:

Group 1 with 2 ratios: 5 Pre-toddlers and 7 toddlers = 12
Group 2 with 2 ratios: 5 Pre-toddlers and 7 toddlers = 12
Total for Module 5 = 12 + 12 = 24


Determine Maximum Capacity and Calculate Adjusted Design Capacity

“Once I’ve determined Adjusted Square Footage and recorded it, what’s the next step?”

The next is step is to determine Maximum Capacity based on the groups you plan to assign to a module. Maximum Capacity is the total number of children who could be in this module. It does not include staff.

To determine Maximum Capacity, divide the square footage number by the allotted space per child, according to the ages planned for that space. The result is the maximum number of children that could be in the module at any given time.

There are four steps for determining and recording Maximum Capacity:

  • Determine Allotted Square Feet per Child based on age and ground rules.
  • Calculate Maximum Capacity.
  • Compare Maximum Capacity with Potential Capacity.
  • Add the ratio clusters plan for this module to determine your Maximum Capacity.
Age and Ground Rules
  • 55 sq.ft. for each infant
  • 44 sq.ft. for each infant/pre-toddler in sleeping space
  • 35 sq.ft. for all other children

Determine Maximum Capacity and Calculate Adjusted Design Capacity

Now we can complete Worksheet 2-A Adjusted Design Capacity for One Module.

Create a Tentative Floor Plan

Keeping in mind all of the possible variables to your Adjusted Design Capacity, use a blank floor plan to document what you believe is the intended Adjusted Design Capacity for each module you adjust.

This may or may not be how the module will be or is being used!

Calculate Design Capacity for Entire Center

Once you have completed Worksheet 2-A for every module in your CDC facility, you must calculate Design Capacity for the entire center by completing the following steps:

  • Transfer the information specific to each module onto Census Worksheet 2-B: Calculation of Adjusted Design Capacity for Entire Facility.
  • Total all of the module Adjusted Design Capacity numbers to get the total Adjusted Design Capacity for this center.
  • Enter the total Adjusted Design Capacity on Census Worksheet 2-B in cell “H” in the lower right corner.

Save these sheets and take them with you when attending the Team Meeting with the other CDC Directors.


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File Name (/)Type
Worksheet 2A - Part 1 (September 19, 2019) gif (22 Kb)
Ratio Cluster (September 19, 2019) gif (5 Kb)
Ratio & Size Requirements (September 19, 2019) gif (10 Kb)