Summary of theNorth Carolina Child Care Law for Child Care Centers
Division of Child Development and Early EducationNC Department of Health and Human Services 820 South Boylan Avenue Raleigh, NC 27669
Revised March 2016 (Copied directly from the DCDEE poster)
What Is Child Care?
The law defines child care as:
three or more unrelated children under 13 years of age
receiving care from a non-relative
on a regular basis, of at least once a week
for more than four hours per day but less than 24 hours.
It is only when all of these conditions exist that regulation is required. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for regulating child care. This is done through the Division of Child Development and Early Education. The purpose of regulation is to protect the well-being of children while they are away from their parents. The law defining child care is in the North Carolina General Statutes, Article 7, Chapter 110. The North Carolina Child Care Commission is responsible for adopting rules to carry out the law. Some counties and cities in North Carolina also have local zoning requirements for child care programs
Star Rated Licenses Centers and homes that are meeting the minimum licensing requirements will receive a one star license. Programs that choose to voluntarily meet higher standards can apply for a two through five star license. The number of stars a program earns is based upon the education levels their staff meet and the program standards met by the program.
Child Care Centers Licensing as a center is required when six or more preschool children are cared for in a residence or when three or more children are in care in a building other than a residence. Religious-sponsored programs are exempt from some of the regulations described below if they choose to meet the standards of the Notice of Compliance rather than the Star Rated License. Programs that operate for less than four consecutive months, such as summer camps, are exempt from licensing. Child care centers may voluntarily meet higher standards and receive a license with a higher rating. Centers will be visited at least annually to make sure they are following the law and to receive technical assistance from child care consultants.
Child Abuse, Neglect, or Maltreatment Every citizen has a responsibility to report suspected child abuse, neglect or maltreatment. This occurs when a parent or caregiver injures or allows another to injure a child physically or emotionally. It may also occur when a parent or caregiver puts a child at risk of serious injury or allows another to put a child at risk of serious injury. It also occurs when a child does not receive proper care, supervision, discipline, or when a child is abandoned. North Carolina law requires any person who suspects child maltreatment at a child care facility to report the situation to the Intake Unit at Division of Child Development and Early Education at 919-527-6335 or 1-800-859-0829. Reports can be made anonymously. A person cannot be held liable for a report made in good faith. The operator of the program must notify parents of children currently enrolled in writing of the substantiation of any maltreatment complaint or the issuance of any administrative action against the child care facility. North Carolina law requires any person who suspects child abuse or neglect in a family to report the case to the county department of social services.
Parents have the right to enter a center at any time while their child is present.
Parents have the right to see the license displayed in a prominent place.
Parents have the right to know how their child will be disciplined.
How to Report a Problem North Carolina law requires staff from the Division of Child Development and Early Education to investigate a child care center when there has been a complaint. Child care providers who violate the law or rules may be fined up to issued an administrative action, $fined and may have their licenses suspended or revoked. If you believe that a child care provider fails to meet the requirements here, or if you have questions, please call the Division of Child Development and Early Education at 919—527-6500 or 1-800-859-0829
Reviewing Files A public file is maintained in the Division’s main office in Raleigh for every licensed center. These files can be viewed during business hours (8am-5pm) or requested via the Division’s web site at www.nchildcare.nc.gov or, ; viewed from the Division’s Child Care Facility Search Site http://ncchildcaresearch.dhhs.state.nc.us/search.asp?lang=English, requested by contacting the Division at 1-800-859-0829.
Licensed centers must meet requirements in the following areas.
Staff Education and Criminal Records Background Checks The administrator of a child care center must be at least 21, and have at least a North Carolina Early Childhood Administration Credential or its equivalent. Lead teachers in a child care center must be at least 18 and have at least a North Carolina Early Childhood Credential or its equivalent. If administrators and lead teachers do not meet this requirement, they must begin credential coursework within six months of being hired. Staff younger than 18 years of age must work under the direct supervision of staff 21 years of age or older. All staff must complete a minimum number of training hours annually including ITS-SIDS training for any caregiver that works with infants 12 months of age or younger. One staff must complete the Emergency Preparedness and Response in Child Care training and plan. On January 1, 2013 House Bill (HB) 737 became effective. This legislation made criminal record checks a pre-service requirement All staff must also undergo a criminal records background check initially, and every three years thereafter.
Staff/Child Ratios Ratios are the number of staff required to supervise a certain number of children. Group size is the maximum number of children in one group. Ratios and group sizes for licensure are shown below and must be posted in each classroom. A sample staff/ratio chart can be found on the DCDEE website under “Provider Documents.”