Licensed child care centers

In the United States, licensing standards for child care centers vary by each individual state. General provisions for licensing address the following issues:

  • Health and safety requirements
  • Ways of dealing with a child's negative behavior
  • The number of staff that are needed to safely care for the children
  • Training requirements for staff
  • Type of equipment needed
  • Requirements for daily program
  • Types of food services needed for children of different ages

Not only do standards vary widely by each state, but so do enforcement and monitoring of centers that follow licensing guidelines.

As part of your research, find out which of your potential child care providers are accredited or are in the process of obtaining accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and/or the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC).1 Accreditation from these organizations helps ensure that a family or group child care center meets basic quality standards, even if your state has lax licensing requirements or enforcement.

For detailed information on state child care licensing, see the Other Places to Get Help section of the topic Choosing Child Care, or visit the Web site for the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care at http://nrc.uchsc.edu/STATES/states.htm.

Citations

  1. Alkon AD (2003). Nonparental child care section of Psychosocial issues. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 512–515. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Last Updated: September 26, 2008

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics

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