The 50-State Child Care Licensing Study 2011-2013 Edition


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

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CLASP: Policy Solutions That Work for Low-Income People


This tool is intended for state advocates and policymakers to use as they work to develop a state early childhood agenda. It includes a series of key questions to understand the context and conditions of young children, birth to six, in the state. Where possible, we also include infant/toddler specific questions. Qu estions include data on demographics and program participation (such as health and nutrition programs), as well as the details of child care and early education settings in the state.

Where possible, links to online data sources are provided, including both original sources and organizations that have analyzed multiple datasets. By following these links, groups can find data specific to their state to populate the tool. Once compiled, these data could be analyzed to identify any trends, areas of need for policy change, and opportunities to support the case for increased investment.

Users can download and save a copy of this tool, open the tool in Microsoft Word, then fill in their state’s data. National figures are included where possible, which can provide context of how infants and toddlers are faring on key indicators.

The full version of the data tool contains five sections, which can be individually downloaded using the links below:

Free assistance in using this tool, and additional supporting resources, are available from CLASP. Please contact Hannah Matthews, 202-906-8006 or

Source: CLASP

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It’s Time to Do Better for Our Babies: CLASP Releases Study of Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies


Today, CLASP, is releasing a new report, Better for Babies: A Study of State Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies, that presents data from a recent state survey of child care subsidy, licensing, and quality enhancement policies.  It provides a national picture of infant-toddler child care-one that shows significant room for improvement.

Collectively, state infant and toddler policies are not meeting the needs of our youngest children and their families. Babies in child care need high-quality care with warm, responsive, and skilled caregivers; healthy and safe environments; and linkages to community supports. Comparing state policies to key benchmark policies finds that too few infants and toddlers have access to such settings — and while particular state policies offer promise, no state has in place a comprehensive set that fully meets the needs of infants and toddlers.

Surely we can do better for babies to ensure that our youngest and most vulnerable are getting the best possible start in life. CLASP’s study shows where state policy stands in relation to a set of key research-based policies on child care subsidy, licensing and quality improvement that support children’s healthy development.

Key findings include:

  • In most states, child-to-provider ratios and group sizes exceed national expert recommendations. Further, a hand­ful of states do not regulate group size at all.
  • While more than half of states (30) reported having specific infant-toddler training for providers, most state require­ments for the number of hours of training are minimal, and the content of training curricula related to infants and toddlers is limited.
  • Twenty-one states report licensing standards that require a consistent primary caregiver for infants and toddlers. A few additional states encourage continuity of care through other means, including regulations, policies, or waivers.
  • Most state standard subsidy reimbursement rates for infants in center-based care fail to meet federally recommended levels.
  • Twenty-two states report offering rate differentials or higher payment rates for infant-toddler care. Higher payment rates for infant-toddler care can offset higher costs and support quality enhancements.
  • Forty-one states report subsidy policies that pay child care providers for days when a child is absent, a policy particularly important for infants and toddlers who have more frequent illnesses and require more frequent doctor visits than older children.
  • Fourteen states reported using direct contracts with child care providers in their subsidy system to increase the supply or improve the quality of subsidized infant-toddler care.

State policies are key, as are increased investments at all levels –federal, state and local — to ensure that our youngest children have access to high-quality care during their formative early years.

Over the next four weeks, CLASP will provide posts in this series that detail the findings of the Better for Babies study.

Source: CLASP

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