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Policies & Procedures in Childcare

Updated February 21, 2019

Childcare regulations and procedures are developed to ensure that all children receive an opportunity to reach their full potential beginning in early childhood. Childcare standards require all childcare providers to adhere to their state's regulations in order to be licensed. The procedures and regulations are established by each individual state, rather than the federal government. Each state's regulations provide for quality day care for all enrolled infants and children, providing them with nurturing, positive, and loving care while away from home. Following these standard regulations demonstrates childcare providers' commitment to the physical safety and emotional well-being of the children in their care.

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Childcare regulations require every provider to be licensed by the state in which they live. Accompanying the license application are references, proof of CPR and First Aid certifications, a physician's form stating the applicant is in good health, a curriculum plan, a completion of orientation certificate, a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) background check, and the application fee. Before the childcare license is issued, the state's childcare office has the home or centre inspected for safety.


Only approved space can be used for childcare. The approved space is designated on the license application and is approved when the state's childcare office inspects the facility. The indoor childcare space must allow room for quiet play, active play, and group activities. A bathroom is required on the same floor as the childcare space and there must be two exits from the facility or home.

Outdoor space must be safe and free of hazards, including busy streets, broken glass, peeling paint, tools, standing water, wells, and rusty materials. Porches and decks that are more than three feet off the ground require protective barricades around them. Childcare regulations also require that swimming pools be inaccessible to children.


Childcare providers must be prepared for emergencies with a well stocked first aid kit and a written evacuation plan. Childcare procedures require that fire drills and evacuation drills be performed with the children on a monthly basis. A written log must be kept of the time, number of children, and meeting place of each drill.

A medical emergency plan must be in place, naming a potential caregiver who can take over in case of an emergency. The emergency caregiver cannot be more than ten minutes from the childcare facility. The emergency procedure requires the caregiver to contact parents, the state's childcare office, and the police when an emergency occurs.


Supervision procedures for childcare require caregivers to directly supervise all the children in their care, being able to see and hear the children at all times when inside or outdoors. Childcare regulations state that infants must never be left unattended in an infant seat or crib for more than 15 minutes.

Napping children must be checked on every 15 minutes and the nap room door must remain opened. Childcare procedures require that the caregiver remain on the same floor level as the napping children.


Childcare procedures require the development and implementation of a written curriculum, schedule, and childcare routine that is followed each day. The curriculum must promote self-esteem, social interaction, school readiness skills, and developmentally appropriate activities for each child. All children should be given the opportunity to be creative, learn self-help skills, participate in physical exercise, and have quiet play.

Record Keeping

Childcare regulations require all caregivers to maintain children's records, including: personal information, medical records, and parents' permission forms.

Annual updates of the children's information are required with medical records that list all immunisation and lead test results for every child. Any prescription medication requires a signed note from the parent and must be kept in the child's records. Daily attendance sheets for the children in childcare are required. Written injury reports must also be kept in the children's file.

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About the Author

Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.

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