Child Care Providers: Licensing Standards

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Topic Overview

In the United States, licensing standards for child care centers vary by each individual state. General provisions for licensing address these issues:

  • Health and safety requirements
  • Ways of dealing with a child's negative behavior
  • The number of staff that are needed to safely care for the children
  • Training requirements for staff
  • Type of equipment needed
  • Requirements for daily program
  • Types of food services needed for children of different ages

Standards vary widely by each state. And how each state monitors and enforces guidelines also varies greatly.

As part of your research, find out which of your potential child care providers are accredited or are in the process of obtaining accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), and/or the National After School Association.footnote 1 Accreditation from these organizations helps ensure that a family or group child care center meets basic quality standards, even if your state has lax licensing requirements or enforcement.

Related Information



  1. Bauer NS (2011). Nonparental childcare. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 364–366. New York: McGraw-Hill.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics

Current as ofAugust 21, 2015

Current as of: August 21, 2015