Press Releases

State Child Care Laws Fail to Protect Children

March 15, 2011

March 16, 2011

State Child Care Laws Fail to Protect Children
NACCRRA Releases We Can Do Better: 2011 Update,
Ranking of State Child Care Center Regulations and Oversight

Arlington, VA – The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) released a report today scoring state laws governing child care center program requirements and oversight. In We Can Do Better: 2011 Update, NACCRRA scored and ranked the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense (DoD) on 10 program requirements and five oversight benchmarks. State rankings show modest improvements since 2009; however, the report reveals that most states do little to protect the health and safety of children in child care.

The average state score was 87 out of 150 points—the equivalent of 58 percent, a failing grade in any classroom in America. Only DoD earned a B. Four states earned a C, 21 states earned a D and half of the states earned a failing grade.

“Parents want their children to be safe in child care. They logically assume that a child care license means that there are program standards and oversight by the state,” said Linda K. Smith, NACCRRA’s Executive Director. “But, the reality is that most state licensing requirements are weak and oversight is weaker. The status quo is unacceptable. There is simply a lack of accountability for those who care for our children.“

While some states have improved child care program requirements since NACCRRA’s last update in 2009, state policies vary widely. Only 10 states require comprehensive background checks and 20 states conduct inspections yearly, or less frequently, with some states conducting inspections once every five years. Twenty-six states require that regular inspection reports and complaint reports be posted online to help parents make informed choices about their children’s care.

“Preventable tragedies, like the recent child care fire in Houston where four young children died, continuously plague our child care system in America,” said Smith. “The safety of a child in child care should not depend upon the state in which the child lives. There have been so many stories in the news lately in a number of states that collectively they should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and states that child care program requirements and oversight need to be strengthened. We must do better.”

More than $10 billion in federal funds is spent on child care every year. To ensure that children are in settings that are safe and promote healthy development, NACCRRA recommends that Congress reauthorize and strengthen the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) law to:

  1. Require background checks, based on fingerprints, and a check of the sex offender registry and child abuse registry for all child care providers paid to care for unrelated children.
  2. Require states to establish minimum health and safety requirements and enforce them through regular unannounced inspections of all licensed child care programs.
  3. Require states to post inspection findings on the Internet so that parents can make informed choices in selecting child care.
  4. Require all child care workers to have at least 40 hours of initial training (including CPR, first aid and other basic safety and health training in addition to child development) and complete 24 hours of annual training.
  5. Authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to withhold funding from states that do not require minimum protections for children and that do not conduct regular unannounced inspections of child care settings.
  6. Increase the quality set-aside to 12 percent, gradually increasing it to 25 percent, on par with Head Start.

For a full copy of We Can Do Better: 2011 Update, visit


NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, is our nation's leading voice for child care. We work with more than 800 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that families in every local community have access to high quality, affordable childcare. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about NACCRRA and how you can join us in ensuring access to high-quality child care for all families, visit us at