What Every Parent Should Know About In-Home Daycare Licensing

Contact Ivy School in search of a local in-home daycare for your child, and you will be presented with licensed providers who meet minimum standards in the states in which they are located. However, state standards are not uniform across the country. Neither is licensing. That is why it is important for parents to understand licensing and how it affects their choice of daycare.

Right off the top, the most important thing every parent should understand is that licensing is not always required. Even though parents might think it is a wise idea, there are states that allow certain types of in-home daycare centers to operate without licenses. Those not needing state licenses tend to be smaller operations with fewer than half-a-dozen children. More often than not, those children are related to the caregiver.

Daycare centers that are licensed must meet stringent requirements governing some key areas, including:

  • how children are supervised
  • worker training
  • worker-to-child ratios
  • immunizations and hygiene
  • nutrition and food handling
  • on-site safety.

Licensing requirements vary from one state to the next. The state agency tasked with licensing is also not consistent across the states. Some states have a cabinet level department devoted specifically to daycare while other states give authority over daycare regulations to some other department, like education or health.

Parents Should Be in the Know

As the parent of a child in need of daycare, it is your responsibility to be in the know. Make a point of familiarizing yourself with regulations in your state. If it turns out that the daycare center you have chosen should be licensed but is not, find another provider. The last thing you want is to take your child to an unlicensed facility that is not meeting state standards.

Assuming your provider is properly licensed, do not just assume that everything will always be done by the book. Keep an eye on things as they relate to your child. If you have any concerns that minimum standards are not being met, make arrangements to speak with the daycare owner or manager. Share your concerns openly and honestly.

Criminal Background Checks

Despite varying state laws, federal law requires every state to implement some sort of background check for childcare providers. Background checks must be comprehensive in nature, including checking of fingerprints for any past criminal activity. Daycare providers should be especially diligent about checking for child neglect, child abuse, or sex crimes.

A typical background check utilizes the FBI database for running fingerprints. It checks the National Sex Offender Registry as well as state and local criminal registries. Furthermore, federal law requires that background checks be run prior to hire and then every five years thereafter.

As a parent, you have the right to ask for proof that daycare workers have passed background checks. You should ask even if the daycare provider you have chosen doesn’t need to be licensed. Even unlicensed daycare centers that receive federal assistance of any kind are required to carry out background checks. As a last resort, you can conduct your own background check. Just call the main office of your state police and ask for information on how to do it.

Licensing is mandatory for most daycare providers around the country. Licensing serves to ensure providers are meeting minimum standards, protecting the children they care for, and ensuring on-site safety. Whether or not you choose a licensed daycare for your child is entirely up to you. Whatever you do though, make sure you know the law in your state so that you are not caught off guard.

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