State Licensing Requirements

How Many Children are in Child Care Settings?

2011 Census Bureau Data (Released April 2013)

  • Our fact sheet on the April 2013 Census Bureau Report, "Who's Minding the Kids?"

How Much Does Child Care Cost?

Improving access to affordable, quality child care is one of Child Care Aware® of America's top goals. Although child care is a necessity to enable parents to work, the high price of child care in every community strains household budgets and forces parents to make compromises about the quality and safety of care they choose for their children.

  • Download Child Care Aware® of America's background one-pager about child care affordability and recommendations for Congress.
  • Download our full report, Parents and the High Price of Child Care: 2012 Update

 

State Licensing Requirements

Use the resources below to help better understand what licensed child care means in your state.

Background Checks for Child Care Providers

The federal government does not require background checks for child care providers. Although most parents assume that background checks are required for licensed care, this is not always the case. It's important to check your state's background check requirements for licensed child care providers. Child Care Aware® of America recommends that all child care providers have a comprehensive background check, including fingerprint checks against state and federal records, the child abuse registry, and the sex offender registry.

Background Check Requirements for Child Care Centers

Background Check Requirements for Small Family Child Care Homes

Background Check Requirements for Large Family Child Care Homes

Our Background Check Recommendations

Child Care Staff:Child Ratios

Child care centers and family child care homes are required by states to maintain specific ratios of staff to children. Use these tables to see your state's requirements.

Staff:Child Ratios for Child Care Centers

Staff:Child Ratios for Family Child Care Homes

Staff Training and Minimum Education Requirements

The federal government does not require any minimum training for child care providers. Because of this, training and education requirements vary widely by state; 16 states do not require a high school degree for lead teachers in a child care center classroom. Use these resources to understand the training requirements for licensed child care providers in your state and compare to Child Care Aware® of America's recommendations.

Initial Training Requirements for Child Care Center Staff

Minimum Education for Child Care Center Staff

Training and Minimum Education Requirements for Small Family Child Care Home Staff

Training and Minimum Education Requirements for Large Family Child Care Home Staff

Our One Pager on Training Recommendations

Healthy and Safety Requirements

Basic Health Requirements for Child Care Centers

Basic Safety Requirements for Child Care Centers

Basic Safety Requirements for Family Child Care Homes

Basic Health Requirements for Family Child Care Homes

Parent Communication and Involvement

Federal law requires that child care providers allow parents unlimited access to their children during the normal hours of operation and whenever children are in the care of such providers. States are required to maintain a record of substantiated parental complaints that must be available to the public on request. Beyond those minimum requirements, states develop additional policies regarding parent communication and involvement. See what your state requires below.

Required Parent Communication Involvement for Child Care Centers

Required Parent Communication Involvement for Family Child Care Homes

Inspection Requirements

Federal law does not place any minimum inspection requirements on the states. Congress requires the Department of Defense to conduct quarterly inspections of its child care programs, but there is no similar federal requirement for civilian child care. Few states conduct inspections quarterly and most conduct an inspection once a year or LESS frequently. Use the resources below to determine how often child care facilities in your state are required to be inspected - and how well your state informs parents of inspection results.

Frequency of Inspections for Child Care Centers

Frequency of Inspections for Small Family Child Care Homes

Frequency of Inspections for Large Family Child Care Homes

Our Inspection Recommendations

Does your state help parents know about child care safety violations?

  • Are Inspection Reports Available Online? Child Care Centers
  • Are Inspection Reports Available Online? Family Child Care Homes
  • Where are your state's inspection reports posted? (See Licensing Information within your state on our map)