Early Child Care & Education Regulations

Written by laurie carpenter
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Early Child Care & Education Regulations
Center-based child care setting (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter)

According to a 2009 report by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, over 12 million young children participate in some type of nonresidential child care setting. The responsibility to regulate and license these programs falls to individual states. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has established minimum regulatory and licensing recommendations to assist states in their individual regulation development.

Regulating Facilities

Among the standards recommended are those that pertain to facility regulations. These regulations involve pre-service inspection and ongoing monitoring, ratio standards (provider to child), health and safety compliance and effective enforcement through routine on-site inspections. The NAEYC urges states to regulate all child care settings (centre-based, small and large family child care) that serve children from two or more unrelated families, regardless of affiliation.


The NAEYC recommends the licensing of all child care settings, meaning operating them without a license would be illegal. Likewise, all providers, teachers and administrators should be licensed and meet minimum education and training standards to ensure quality care.


The NAEYC advises state agencies that licensing standards should echo and address current public policy, research and professional development. Programs should incorporate varied educational opportunities, facilitate social and emotional development, and provide activities that encourage motor development skills.

Licensing Agencies

In order for regulations to be effective, a proactive and responsive licensing staff needs to be in place. The NAEYC emphasises the need for adequate staff and resources for the licensing agencies. The agency advises that case loads per licenser be limited to 50 care providers in order to facilitate timely license processing, complaint investigations and regular monitoring.


The NAEYC views the main goal of early child care and education regulations as a way of protecting children from harm. Through requirements for provider training and education, it hopes to ensure that child care providers achieve and maintain high levels of care.

Community Effort

NAEYC advocates for the active involvement of all concerned (parents, care takers, government, public leadership) in meeting the physical, emotional, social and educational needs of young children in child care. Coordinated efforts in policy making, regulation development and compliance enforcement will ensure strong, quality programs.

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