Child Care Licensing Tools and Resources

Last Reviewed Date
June 27, 2023

Within the early care and education system, licensing requirements apply to those caring for children from birth to school age. Licensing helps prevent various forms of harm to children, including risks from the following: injuries and the spread of disease; fire and other building safety hazards; and developmental impairment from the lack of healthy relationships with adults, adequate supervision, or developmentally appropriate activities.

Licensing is a process administered by state and territory governments that sets a baseline of requirements below which it is illegal for facilities to operate. States have regulations that facilities must comply with and policies to support enforcement of those regulations. The following tools and resources about child care licensing are designed to help states and territories improve their practices, strengthen provider requirements, and develop the skills of licensing staff.

National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations

This tool helps users find state and territory child care licensing regulations, including regulations for centers and FCC homes.

National Program Standards Crosswalk Tool

This tool supports the alignment of program standards for licensing, QRISs, and prekindergarten and is prepopulated with national early childhood program standards.

Monitoring and Enforcement Resources on CCTAN

These resources in the Child Care Technical Assistance Network library focus on monitoring and enforcement in child care settings.

Health and Safety Requirements and Standards Resources on CCTAN

These resources in the Child Care Technical Assistance Network library focus on health and safety requirements in CCDF regulations.

TRLECE Brief Series: State Approaches to Child Care and Early Education (CCEE) Licensing

Collection of short resources from The Role of Licensing in Early Care and Education (TRLECE) project that discuss frontline licensing staff, monitoring and enforcement processes, and managing licensing complaints. 

Addressing School-Age Needs in Licensing Regulations

This brief gives child care licensing agencies key considerations for creating licensing requirements that meaningfully address school-age children's needs. 

Helping Family Child Care Providers Navigate Child Care Licensing Systems

This brief highlights strategies that licensing agency staff—as well as external entities who support family child care (FCC) providers—can use to address provider-reported challenges.

Child Care and Development Fund Health and Safety Briefs

This series of briefs addresses health and safety requirements specified in Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) regulations for centers and family child care settings.

Licensing Caseloads: Finding the Right Ratio of Licensors to Providers

This brief explores what factors help determine the right ratio of inspectors to providers and how many child care providers a licensor can effectively monitor.

Professional Development for Child Care Licensors

This document provides a framework that can be used by state, territory and tribal licensing administrators, managers, and trainers in creating professional development opportunities for child care licensing inspectors and other licensing staff.

Key Competencies for Licensors of Child Care Programs

This technical assistance resource document outlines the knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics that licensors of child care programs need to perform their job duties successfully.

Developing and Revising Child Care Licensing Requirements

This document presents steps for developing and revising child care licensing requirements, based on several states' successful practices.

Monitoring Cost Estimation Calculator

A tool to help child care licensing agencies and CCDF lead agencies project the annual caseload and cost of monitoring and supporting licensed and license-exempt child care providers.

A Guide to Support States and Territories’ Use of Child Care Licensing Data

This guide helps CCDF administrators and licensing administrators assess current licensing data systems and identify needed changes.

Best Practices for Human Care Regulation

This resource lays the foundation for focusing and assessing resoruces across the board to support licensing.

Best Practices Self-Assessment and Follow-Up Tool

Licensing agencies can use this to look for improvement opportunities based on Best Practices or Human Care Regulation, then develop strategic plans to improve their practices.

Caring for Our Children Basics Health and Safety Standards Alignment Tool for Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes

This tool allows states to compare their current early childhood program standards against the minimum health and safety standards in CFOCB.

Trends in Child Care Licensing Requirements and Policies for 2017

The 2017 Child Care Licensing Study looked at licensing requirements for child care centers, family child care homes, and group child care homes and licensing agency policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Trends in Child Care Licensing Requirements and Policies for 2014

The 2014 Child Care Licensing Study looked at licensing requirements for child care centers, family child care homes, and group child care homes and licensing agency policies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories.

Trends in Child Care Licensing Requirements and Policies for 2011

The 2011 Child Care Licensing Study looked at licensing requirements for child care centers, family child care homes, and group child care homes and licensing agency policies in all 50 states, and the District of Columbia. 

Monitoring and Supporting License-Exempt Care: Case Studies

This issue brief, one in a series, shared the experience of six states that have begun to address the challenges of monitoring exempt care.

Monitoring License-Exempt CCDF Homes

This issue brief, one in a series, helps CCDF Adminstrators meet federal regulations regarding the monitoring of license-exempt homes receivign CCDF funding.

Supporting License-Exempt Family Child Care

This issue brief, one in a series, aims to assist CCDF Administrators and their partners in their work to support license-exempt FCC homes.

Resources and Tools for Revising and Aligning Early Childhood Program Standards

This webinar explores the various tools and resources available to help states and territories review their early childhood programs standards.

Coordinated Monitoring in Early Care and Education: Benefits and Strategies

This webinar shares ideas for coordinating monitoring across funding streams, and discusses goals, approaches, and frameworks for coordinated monitoring. 

Health and Safety Requirements: How Do You Maintain Compliance?

This presentation includes a dialogue about the various types of state, national and fedearl standards that providers are required to meet.

Monitoring and Supporting License-exempt Child Care

This PowerPoint summarizes licensing threholds, common exemptions, national data on/cost of monitoring, and supports for exempt family child care, including training.