Onslow County Partnership for Children:

We are a private non-profit agency that advocates and provides services for the healthy development of children, by building the strengths and capacities of families, care-giving professionals, and the communities in which they reside.

Child Care Guide

Seeking Quality Child Care

Choosing child care is a personal decision.  The options of child care include:

  1. Licensed child care centers
  2. Licensed family child care homes
  3. Public preschool programs
  4. Licensed exempt programs such as School-Age Child Care and Half-Day Preschools.

When making the decisions about child care, parents and families can seek guidance from local and state resources.  The Division of Child Development is the licensing agency for North Carolina.  Parents and Families can visit the website www.childcare.net or call toll free: 800-859-0829 (within state) to understand the role the Division of Child Development plays in licensing and monitoring child care programs.

The North Carolina Child Care License consists of two components: Staff Education and Program Standards.  Programs will receive a score between 1 and 7.  Programs can earn Bonus Points which will add to their score for Staff Education and Program Standards.  The total score is then reflected in the Star Rated License.  Each Star (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) has a predetermined score.

Parents and families are encouraged to visit, interview and evaluate prospective child care choices.  For sample interview questions visit:
http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us/pdf_forms/Checklisthome.pdf for Family Child Care Homes or http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us/pdf_forms/Checklistcenter.pdf for Child Care Centers.

Basic Regulations for Child Care

All childcare programs are required to meet childcare requirements. Childcare requirements ensure that programs are meeting the minimum standards for care in North Carolina.  Programs must past a compliance test and they have to maintain at least 75% of these requirements for 18 months or the length of time the facility has operated. Some of the childcare licensing requirements that are checked in a program's compliance history are:

  • Condition of equipment and materials
  • Discipline practices
  • Child/staff ratios
  • Sanitation practices
  • Staff education and training development
  • Supervision of children

In addition, centers are required to meet sanitation, building and fire codes as required by other state agencies. The Star Rated License System http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us/parents/pr_sn2_ov_sr.asp recognizes facilities for their voluntary efforts to exceed these minimum standards.

When you enroll your child in a program, you should receive a summary of the requirements from the provider. You can also print (legal size paper required) the summary http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us/pdf_forms/summary_ncchildcare_laws_r... from this web site. If you are interested in viewing more details about childcare requirements, click on the complete text of the North Carolina Child Care Requirements http://nrckids.org/STATES/NC/northcarolina.htm

What to look for and ask about Accreditation

Family Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers can choose to go through a process called accreditation. By successfully completing an accreditation process, the provider has shown they meet higher standard that would aid in a child's growth and development to help them be prepared for school.

There are several National Organizations that offer accreditation for child care providers:

Health and Safety

  • The space is clean and free of things that are harmful to children.
  • Toys and equipment are safe, clean and in good repair.
  • Monthly fire drills take place and fire extinguishers are on site.
  • FREQUENT HAND WASHING: before and after meals, after toileting/diapering, after outdoor play.
  • First Aid equipment available at all times.
  • Rules for giving and storing medication are followed.
  • Sick children are separated from the group to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Infants under 12 months are put on their backs to sleep.
  • Nutritious meals are served and food is properly store and prepared.
  • Food is served based on the number of hours the child is in care.
  • Drinking water is available and offered at frequent intervals.
  • Parent/Guardian must give written permission to transport children.
  • Vehicles used to transport are in good repair. Seat belts and safety seats are used.
  • Outdoor area is fully supervised and children are allowed to play outside every day.

Positive Teacher-Child Interaction

  • Observe how the provider interacts with the children.  Provider should consistently treat the children in a warm and positive manner.
  • Guidance techniques like redirection and positive reinforcement are used.
  • Discipline is age-appropriate and NEVER physical, mental or emotional punishment.

Staff-Child Ratio and Group Size

  • When conducting a child care search, it's important to find out what a provider's child to staff ratio is and how many children are being cared for in the child care program.  You may also want to ask how many caregivers are present in the program.
  • Keep in mind that a child will get more attention if each caregiver has fewer children to take care of. The younger the children are, the more caregivers there should be. For example, one family home caregiver should only take care of two babies.
  • Family Childcare Home is a smaller program offered in the provider's residence where three to five preschool children are in care.They may also provide care for three school age children.

Child Care Center Ratio

 Age of Children # Children # Staff Max. Group Size # Staff
 0 to 12 Months 5 1 10 2
 12 to 24 Months 6 1 12 2
 2 to 3 Years 10 1 20 2
 3 to 4 Years 15 1 25 2
 4 to 5 Years 20 1 25 2
 5 Years and Older 25 1 25 1

Staff Education

  • Education and ongoing training increases staff knowledge, which leads to a high quality of care.
  • Ongoing training is required to maintain a child care license

Staff Turnover

  • Consistency and minimal turnover in caregivers is critical in high quality care.  It is important in the emotional health of the children for them to feel secure and confident in their well-being during childcare.

Family Involvement

  • How is information about the child's day/week/month provided to the parents?
  • You should be updated regularly (daily, weekly), on the care and progress of your child. You should also be notified if the provider is experiencing any challenges regarding your child's care.
  • You should be able to visit the childcare facility at anytime. North Carolina law requires an "open-door policy" in all child care facilities.
  • Ask about other ways you could be involved in your child's program.

Developmentally Appropriate Activities/Curriculum

  • Providers have age appropriate toys and learning materials.
  • Activities are available for the development of children's whole body and mind.
  • A variety of books are available.
  • Children are allowed to make choices.
  • TV viewing is limited or excluded from the program.