Choosing the Right Childcare: Safety Rules that Apply to Daycare Providers
Because there’s nothing more precious than the safety of our children, it is important to know what regulations apply to daycare providers, and to make sure those safety rules are followed.
Some types of child care must be regulated, while other types of child care may operate without a license.
Types of Providers
In Ohio, only child care centers and larger in-home providers (with seven to twelve children) must be licensed. A center is a provider that cares for seven or more children of any age. Child Care Staff Members must be at least 18 years old and have a high school education or must have completed a training program approved by the Department of Human Services
Type A Homes must also be licensed. A Type A Home is care in the provider’s personal residence for seven to twelve children (or four to twelve children if four children are under two years of age). The provider’s own children under six years of age must be included in the total count.
Type B Homes may be operated without a license. A Type B Homes is care in the provider’s personal residence for no more than six children. No more than three children may be under two years of age. The provider’s own children under six years of age must be included in the total count. Type B homes must be certified by the county department of Job and Family Services if the child care is paid for with public funds.
Other types of care that do not require a license include care provided in a child’s own home; programs which operate two weeks or less a year; programs where parents remain on the premises (unless at the parent’s employment site); specialized training in specific subjects, such as art, drama, dance, and swimming; and programs which operate one day a week for no more than six hours.
Staff to Child Ratios
Ohio law provides for staff to child ratios. Keep in mind, these are minimum requirements. The best care is often provided at a lower staff to child ratio. For example, staff-to-child ratio is especially important for infants. The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a single provider care for no more than three children younger than age of 2 at once. However, state licensing laws allow for five infants per adult. You want to make sure the staff has plenty of time to change diapers properly, provide feedings, and still have time left for play time. The staff to child ratios are:
- Infants (birth and under 12 months) — 1 to 5 (or 2 to 12 in the same room)
- Infants (12-18 months) — 1 to 6
- Toddlers (18 months-2 1/2 years) — 1 to 7
- Toddlers (2 1/2 years to 3 years) — 1 to 8
- Pre-School (three years) — 1 to 12
- Pre-School (four to five years) — 1 to 14
- School Age (kindergarten to 11 years) — 1 to 18
Using the Rules to Help Choose the Right Childcare
The purpose of Ohio’s child care licensing regulations is to reduce the risk of harm to children while they are participating in out of home care. The serious risk rule violations of the Ohio Administrative Code fall into three distinct categories: Lack of Supervision, Administrative Negligence, and Environmental Hazards. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has developed a guide for providers to use as a tool to help focus on those areas of rules which present the greatest risk of harm to children. These rules, if violated, could immediately endanger the health and safety of children in care. As a parent, when choosing childcare, you can also be aware of these rules while visiting the center or in-home care. You can ask questions and observe whether the child care provider has devised and implemented systems to assure your children are in the safest and healthiest environments possible. Even if the childcare you choose in not a licensed facility, you can still use the guide to make sure that the provider is adequately supervising your child, has qualified personnel, and the facility is properly maintained.
Just because a home is licensed, does not mean the child care provider is following the rules. Ohio’s child care centers are inspected prior to receiving a license, and after license issuance one to two times per year. Centers will also be investigated in response to complaints. Ohio’s child care centers must post their license in a conspicuous place where parents can see it. They must also post copies of inspection reports for parent’s review. Ask prospective childcare providers where these things are posted.
You can also ask whether the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Providers that are accredited have met voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) are the two largest organizations that accredit child care programs.
Contact Rinehardt Law Firm
If you believe your child has been neglected or abused by a childcare provider, or if your child was injured due to inadequate supervision or because of poorly maintained facilities, call us for a free consultation.