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What Families Need to Know About Licensed and Unlicensed Childcare

Selecting a childcare provider is one of the most important decisions your family can make. When interviewing providers, it’s important to ask whether they operate a licensed childcare facility. Licensed providers must meet specific health and safety standards, including staff-to-child ratios and maximum group sizes, minimum qualifications and training for caregivers, and many other important regulations. Not all childcare providers are required to be licensed to provide care and not all unlicensed providers meet these same standards.

Examples of providers not required to be licensed to provide childcare may include:

  • Churches
  • Ministries
  • Health Clubs
  • Gymnastics Facilities
  • Anyone providing less than 4 hours of care per day (i.e. afterschool programs)
  • Small home providers
  • Summer resident camps
  • Vacation Bible School

Are these regulations required to be met by your child care provider?

Regulations

Licensed Child Care

Unlicensed Child Care

Perform comprehensive background check on all staff, including fingerprint checks against state and federal records, child abuse registry, and sex offender registry.
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State staff-to-child ratios must be maintained in each classroom.
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Children must be supervised at all times.
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Lead teachers must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or higher.
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Faculty trained in CPR and standard first aid must be present at all times.
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Staff must provide a medical statement verifying they are healthy, free of disease, and able to work with children.
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Center must notify parent/guardian if their child is injured.
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Center must provide a statement to parents regarding the center’s insurance liability coverage.
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Center must have a written procedure for the arrival and release of children.
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Facility must pass State Fire Marshall building inspection and DHEC building and grounds inspection.
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Center must post and follow a daily schedule of developmentally – appropriate activities for each age level of children.
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Meals must meet USDA child and adult food program guidelines.
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Center must provide written policies to parents/guardians outlining their approaches to discipline.
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Teaching faculty must attend 15 hours of professional development annually.
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Center directors must attend 20 hours of professional development annually.
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The Sunshine House is licensed childcare facility. If you have any questions about these licensing requirements, please contact your nearest Sunshine House or your Center Director.