State child care licensing regulations and monitoring and enforcement policies help provide a baseline of protection for the health and safety of children in out-of-home care. Effective, robust licensing prevents harm to children. It mitigates the risk of injury or death from fire, building hazards, disease, and inadequate staff oversight, and helps to prevent the developmental delays that can result from the lack of healthy relationships with adults or developmentally inappropriate activities.
Licensing is a process that establishes the minimum requirements necessary to protect the health and safety of children in out-of-home-care; it is illegal for facilities that do not meet or exceed these minimum standards to operate. States manage the licensing process through the application and enforcement of regulations.
The protections offered by well-enforced, effective regulations are critical and broad in scope. There were over 20 million children under age five in the United States on any given day in 2011; 17% of these children attended a formal out-of-home child care setting while their parents worked1. Millions of children and their families relied on state licensing agencies to monitor and enforce regulatory requirements in these settings.
The National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) is an international professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in human care regulation and licensing through leadership, education, collaboration, and services. NARA represents all human care licensing, including child care, older adult care, child welfare, and program licensing for services related to mental illness, developmental disabilities and abuse of drugs or alcohol. NARA’s researchers have been studying child care in the United States for over thirty-five years. NARA seeks to improve the overall quality of out-of-home child care by measuring the effectiveness of licensing policies and procedures and determining which regulations are best at protecting children from harm.
Since 2005, NARA has partnered with the Office of Child Care’s National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement (NCCCQI) to produce the Child Care Licensing Study. Between 2011 and 2013, NARA and NCCCQI pursued unilateral analyses of survey and regulatory data for operational reasons. NARA and NCCCQI intend to revitalize their partnership for future studies and other endeavors. NCCCQI has produced three extremely useful and enlightening research briefs relating to trends in child care licensing; these briefs are available at Appendix A of this study.
Source: National Association for Regulatory Administration