Revised January 2021 (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 carried out through the Division of Child Development and Early Education. The purpose of regulation is to protect the health and 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.
Child Care Centers Licensing as a center is required when six or more 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 not to be licensed. 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.
Two through Five Star Rated License Centers that meet 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 rated license. The number of stars a program earns is based upon the education levels their staff meet, the program standards met by the program, and one quality point option.
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, appropriate discipline, or when a child is not in a safe environment. 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 919-814-6300 or 1-800-859-0829. Reports can be made anonymously. A person cannot be held liable for a report made in good faith. North Carolina law requires any person who suspects child abuse or neglect in a family to report that to the county department of social services. Parental Rights
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, issued an administrative action, and may have their licenses suspended or revoked. Administrative actions must be posted in the facility. If you believe that a child care provider fails to meet the child care requirements, or if you have questions, please call the Division of Child Development and Early Education at 919 814-6300 or 1 800-859-0829.
Licensedcentersmust,ataminimum,meetrequirementsinthefollowingareas. Education and Training 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 have current certification in CPR and First Aid. All staff must complete health and safety training and a minimum number of ongoing training hours annually, ITS-SIDS training is required the administrator and any caregiver that works with infants 12 months of age or younger. One staff member must complete the Emergency Preparedness and Response in Child Care training and plan.
Criminal Background Checks Criminal background qualification is a pre-service requirement. All staff must undergo a criminal background check initially, and every three years thereafter.
Reviewing Facility Information From the Division’s Child Care Facility Search Site, the facility and visit documentation can be viewed http://ncchildcaresearch.dhhs.state.nc.us/search.asp?lang=English 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-5 pm) by contacting the Division at 919-814-6300 or 1-800-859-0829 or requested via the Division’s web site at www.nchildcare.ncdhhs.gov
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. The minimum staff/child ratios and group sizes for single-age groups of children in centers are shown below and must be posted in each classroom. A sample staff/child ratio chart can be found on the DCDEE website under “Provider Documents and Forms”.
Centers located in a residence licensed for six to twelve children may care for up to three additional school-age children, depending on the other children in care. When the group has children of different ages, staff-child ratios and group size must be met for the youngest child in the group. Staff/child ratios for multi-age groupings are outlined in the child care rules and require prior approval
Space and Equipment There are space requirements for indoor and outdoor environments that must be measured prior to licensure. Outdoor play space must be fenced. Indoor equipment must be clean, safe, well-maintained, and age appropriate. Outdoor equipment and indoor furnishings must be child size, sturdy, and free of hazards that could injure children.
Record Requirement Centers must keep accurate records such as children's, staff, and program. A record of monthly fire drills and quarterly shelter-in-place or lockdown drills practiced must also be maintained. A safe sleep policy must be developed and shared with parents if children younger than 12 months are in care. Prevention of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma policy must be developed and shared with parent of children up to five year of age.
Curriculum and Activities Four and five-star programs must use an approved curriculum in classrooms serving four year old children. Other programs may choose to use an approved curriculum to earn a quality point for the star-rated license. The Division website maintains a list of approved curriculums for four-year-old children. Activity plans must be available to parents and must show a balance of active and quiet activities. A written activity plan that includes activities intended to stimulate the developmental domains, in accordance with North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development. Rooms must be arranged to encourage children to explore and use materials on their own and have choices.
Health and Safety Children must be immunized on schedule. Each licensed center must ensure the health and safety of children by sanitizing areas and equipment used by children. Meals and snacks must be nutritious and meet the Meal Patterns for Children in Child Care. Food must be offered at least once every four hours. Local health, building, and fire inspectors visit licensed programs to make sure standards are met. All children must be allowed to play outdoors each day (weather conditions permitting) and must have space and time provided for rest. They must provide age-appropriate toys and activities. Centers must complete the Emergency Preparedness and Response in Child Care training and plan.
Transportation Child care centers providing transportation for children must meet all motor vehicle laws, including inspection, insurance, license, and restraint requirements. Children may never be left alone in a vehicle and child-staff ratio must be maintained.
Discipline and Behavior Management Each program must have a written policy on discipline, must discuss it with parents, and must give parents a copy when the child is enrolled. Changes in discipline policy must be shared with parents in writing before going into effect. Corporal punishment (spanking, slapping, or other physical discipline) is prohibited in all centers. Religious-sponsored programs which notify the Division of Child Development and Early Education that corporal punishment is part of their religious training are exempt from that part of the law.
The law and rules are developed to establish minimum requirements. Most parents would like more than minimum care. Child Care Resource and referral agencies can provide help in choosing quality care. For more information about choosing quality child care, parent resources and/or the in North Carolina law and rules, contact the Division of Child Development and Early Education at 919 814-6300 or 1-800-859-0829; or visit our homepage at www.ncchildcare.ncdhhs.gov