Contemporary Issues in Licensing Report Series (2014)--ARCHIVED

The National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement produced this series of licensing reports to support the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care’s, goal of children served in safe, healthy child care settings. The Office of Child Care hopes that this report series, which includes research as well as examples of innovative and diverse state practices, will be helpful to state licensing agencies as they seek to strengthen their programs and better protect children in out-of-home care.

Child Care Licensing Inspection Policies

This report focuses on States’ inspection policies and practices on monitoring providers’ compliance with the law and the regulations. Inspection of child care programs by licensing agencies and other regulators helps ensure that child care programs are following state rules for protecting the health and safety of the children enrolled. Topics include authorization for inspections; frequency and type of inspection: announced or unannounced; use of technology to aid in the inspection process; and public access to inspection and enforcement actions.

Enforcement Strategies with Licensed Child Care Providers

This report focuses on effective practices for ensuring child care licensing regulations are enforced and action taken when they are not met. Topics include types of enforcement actions including preventive and corrective enforcement actions, intermediate sanctions, authority for enforcement, using technology to aid in enforcement, effectiveness of strategies with different groups of providers, and support for enforcement actions.

Monitoring Strategies for Determining Compliance: Differential Monitoring, Risk Assessment, and Key Indicators

This report describes various methods States are using to define compliance and monitor child care facilities efficiently and effectively. States’ licensing systems are operating under competing pressures to both improve the health and safety of children in child care while maximizing administrative cost efficiencies. With limited resources, licensing administrators are working to ensure that monitoring visits focus on what is most important in keeping children safe. The report includes descriptions of these various methods and examples of States’ use of these methods.

Enforcement and Approaches to Illegally-Operating Providers

This report focuses on defining and identifying child care providers operating illegally, the enforcement of States’ statutes, and methods used to support providers in becoming licensed. It provides examples of enforcement practices, including the use of law enforcement and monetary penalties.

Reporting, Tracking, and Responding to Serious Injuries and Fatalities in Child Care

This report focuses on practices and policies pertaining to serious injuries and fatalities in child care. State examples illustrate challenges in this area but also emphasize that, when done well, the tracking of incidents helps States focus their efforts on reducing the number of children who are seriously injured or die in child care settings. Topics include data on nonfatal and fatal injuries, state regulations related to reporting serious injuries and fatalities, state tracking systems, States’ use of available data, and conducting the investigation. 

Building and Physical Premises Safety in Child Care

This report addresses how state child care licensing agencies coordinate in various ways with other state and local authorities to address building and physical facility safety and ensure that monitoring is efficient and not duplicative. States’ sometimes complicated monitoring practices are described, and questions for consideration on effective coordination strategies are offered. The report is organized into four sections: Environmental Health; Fire Safety; Playgrounds; and Building and Zoning. Within each of these sections, standards and oversight and state licensing agencies’ roles in the coordination of inspections and standards are described.

Quality Assurance in Child Care Licensing

This report focuses on activities, authority, and staffing as parts of a quality assurance system designed to ensure that child care licensing rules are applied consistently and fairly across a State. Topics include the qualifications and professional development of licensing staff and States’ strategies for achieving consistency in the child care licensing program (including interpretive guidelines, inter rater reliability studies, ongoing staff development, licensing data systems, observation by supervisors, and maintaining communication).

Elements of a Licensing Statute

This report focuses on the characteristics of a strong statute that provides the backbone for the creation, maintenance, and enforcement of licensing rules. Topics include definitions, exemptions, illegally-operating child care, designation of the licensing agency, delegation of rulemaking, abuse registry and criminal history checks, statutory advisory bodies, inspection, issuance of the license, penalties for noncompliance, appeal processes, and supportive services for providers and families.


Publication Date
Resource Type
  • Protecting Children's Health and Safety
    • Health and Safety Requirements and Standards
      • Building and Facility Requirements
    • Licensing Administration
      • Caseloads/Staffing Patterns/Quality Assurance for Monitoring
      • Licensing Policies/Structure of Regulatory Agencies
      • Qualifications and Training of Monitoring Staff
    • Monitoring and Enforcement
      • Enforcement Tools and Policies
      • Monitoring for Compliance
Archive Status