Providing excellence in early childhood education since 1972
...excellence in early childhood education Established in 1972
SCDC helps you find child care available in your community
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Provider Services
Resource & Referral
Meeting Child Care Regulations
What Is Child Care?

Steps To Follow If You Have A Complaint About A Child Care Program
      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 10.

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.

Family Child Care Homes
A family child care home is licensed to care for five or fewer preschool age children, and can include three additional school-age children. This includes preschoolers living in the home but the provider's own school-age children are not counted (Individuals caring for one or two children are exempt from being licensed.) Licenses are issued to family child care home providers who meet the following requirements:

  • Home providers must be 21 years old with at least a high school education or its equivalent, and mentally and emotionally capable of caring for children.
  • He or she must undergo a criminal records background check initially, and every three years thereafter.
  • All household members over age 15 who are present in family child care homes when children are in care must also undergo a criminal records background check. As of December 2008, criminal records rechecks are done every three years.
  • All family child care home providers must have current certification in CPR and first aid and complete as ITS-SIDS training every three years. They also must complete a minimum number of training hours annually.

All family child care homes must meet basic health and safety standards. Providers must maintain verification of children's immunization and health status. They must provide developmentally appropriate toys and activities, as well as nutritious meals and snacks for the children in care.

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.

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