Start a Daycare in New Jersey – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
A child care in the State of New Jersey refers to any home or facility which is maintained for the care, development or supervision of six or more children under 13 years of age who attend for less than 24 hours a day. All child care centers in the state are regulated in order for them to meet the stringent requirements imposed by Department of Youth and Family Services, Department of Human Services. The issuance of a license to operate a child care center is only the first step in monitoring all facilities that provide care to children. The centers are constantly monitored for any violation of the rules and regulations with the intention of providing the best care, development and supervision of all children in the day care centers in the state of New Jersey.
Licensing of Child Care Center
A child care center can be operated by a sponsor, a person owning or legally responsible for operating a center, in the State of New Jersey only after obtaining a license from the Bureau of Licensing, Division of Youth and Family Services, Department of Human Services. An applicant for a child care license must apply with the Bureau a completed application form at least 45 days prior to the planned opening of the facility. The completed application form must be submitted to the Bureau together with the specified licensing fee that is payable to the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey.
The licensing fee for child care centers shall be as follows:
|Center’s License Capacity||Three Year Fee|
|181 and up||$250.00|
The Bureau will refund the licensing fee to the applicant in the event that the application is denied.
A regular license will be issued by the Bureau if the applicant has fully complied with all the licensing requirements of the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers. A temporary license will be issued if the applicant is in substantial compliance with the licensing requirements but does not meet all the applicable provisions of the Manual. However, a child care center cannot operate for more than 18 months using only a temporary license. A licensing period, which may include the issuance of temporary licenses, shall be for a period of three years.
The Bureau of Licensing may deny any application for a license or it may also suspend, revoke or refuse to renew any license or Certificate of Life/Sate Approval for any of the following reasons:
- Failure or refusal to comply with all the applicable provisions of New Jersey laws and the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers
- Violation of the terms and conditions set forth in the license or a Certificate of life/Safety Approval
- Fraud or misrepresentation in filing for a license application
- Refusal to furnish files, reports, or records that may be required
- Refusal of entry to the center of any authorized representative of the Division of Youth and Family Services for the purpose of inspection or investigation during the operating hours of the center
- Policy, activity, or staff conduct that poses a serious hazard to the education, safety, health, well-being and development of any child attending in the center, or that demonstrates unfitness by the sponsor or staff member to operate a center
- Failure of the center to provide developmental activities that meet the social, physical, emotional and cognitive needs of the children in the center
- Failure by the sponsor to secure and maintain on file conviction disclosures, Child Abuse Record Information background checks, or Criminal History Record Information fingerprint background checks
- When the child care center is determined by the Institutional Investigation Unit to be posing risk or harm to children served
- Refusal by the sponsor to consent for himself or terminate the employment of a staff member who refuse to consent to a Child Abuse Record Information background check
- Refusal by the sponsor to terminate a staff member whose Child Abuse Record Information background check revealed an incident of child abuse or neglect
- A substantiated incident of child abuse or neglect against the sponsor as revealed by a Child Abuse Record Information background check
- Failure to prohibit smoking in child care centers
The license or a Certificate of Life/Safety Approval is to be returned to the Bureau of Licensing upon suspension or revocation. The Bureau shall notify the parent of each enrolled child upon suspension or revocation of the license of a child care center.
The sponsor of a child care center is legally responsible and is held accountable by the Bureau of Licensing for the overall operation of the center and also for ensuring the center’s compliance with all the applicable provisions of the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers and the laws of New Jersey. When the child care center is owned or operated by two or more individuals, the sponsor shall designate an individual who will represent the interests and act on behalf of the sponsor.
The child care center is required to verbally report to the Bureau of Licensing the following events the following day after learning of their occurrence:
- Any injury or illness resulting to hospital admission or death of a child
- Any change in the use of a multi-use building by other occupants
- Permanent closure of the center
- Damages to the center’s premises due to fire, accident, or the elements
- Any proposed use of emergency space other than those approved by the Bureau
- Conviction or guilty plea of the sponsor, director or staff members to a crime committed.
The child care center shall maintain a records of all enrolled children which shall be available for inspection by authorized representatives of the Bureau of Licensing and of the Division’s Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit.
Staff records shall be maintained on file at the center; records of staff members who no longer work with the center shall be kept for at least one year from the date of termination or resignation.
The sponsor of a child care center is required to secure comprehensive general liability insurance coverage for the center with a copy of such insurance coverage kept at the center for inspection or verification.
Parents who register their children to a licensed child care center must receive an Information to Parents document that highlights key information that must be available, upon request, to parents about the center, including inspection and violation reports and a summary of any complaint made against the center. Child care centers are required to provide parents, upon request, such information.
The sponsor, director, and all staff members of a child care center are required to be of good moral character and reputation, and must be of sufficient physical, mental, and emotional health to perform his job satisfactorily. They must possess the skills, attributes, and characteristics needed to sponsor a center or deal with the children who are enrolled in the center.
Before a director or a staff member commence working at the child care center, the sponsor shall complete and keep a file at the center for each individual a Staff Records Checklist, signed by the sponsor and a designated representative of the Bureau of Licensing, indicating that the center has obtained documentation of the following:
- Individual’s name, address, telephone number, and signature
- Education and work experience
- Disclosure of any conviction for crimes or disorderly persons offenses
- Completion of a Child Abuse Record Information background check, and a Criminal History Record Information fingerprint background check
- Completion of a physical examination and of a Mantoux tuberculin skin test
- Staff member’s signature to attest receipt of the policy statement on the discipline of children by staff members
- Staff member’s signature to attest receipt of the Information to Parents document
- Two written or verbal references on each individual.
A child care center shall be staffed by a sponsor, who may serve as director or as a staff member, a director, and one or more of the applicable staff members based on the number of children enrolled or the program offered by the center.
Child care centers shall observe the following staff/child ratio:
|Under 18 months||1:4|
|18 months up to 2 years||1:6|
|2 years up to 4 years||1:10|
|5 years and older||1:15|
- The sponsor of the child care center shall:
- Be responsible for the hiring or appointing of a director
- Make sure that the center is in compliance with all applicable rules and laws of the state
- Designate individuals with the authority and responsibility to develop policies and procedures for the center and ensure the supervision of all staff members.
- The director shall be responsible for:
- The observation and supervision of all groups of children
- The implementation of policies and procedures for the day-to-day operation of the child care center
- The orientation of staff members to the policies and procedures of the center, including the physical layout of the facility, and the day-to-day operation.
In the absence of the director from the center, a designated person shall be responsible for, and assume and carry out, the duties of the director.
The director of the child care center, the head teacher, the group teacher, and all staff members must meet the requirements set forth in the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers and other applicable rules of the Bureau of Licensing, Division of Youth and Family Services, Department of Human Services of the State of New Jersey.
Newly hired staff of a child care center must, within two weeks from date of hiring, receive and complete orientation on the following areas:
- Supervising and tracking of children
- Understanding center operations, policies and procedures
- Implementing group size limits and primary caregiver responsibilities
- Recognizing and reporting child abuse and/or neglect
- Evacuating the center and using fire alarms as needed
- Implementing the center’s release of children policy
- Implementing the center’s statement of policy on the discipline of children
- Implementing health practices.
Physical Facility Requirements
An applicant for a license or a Certificate of Life/Safety Approval to operate a child care center must comply with all the applicable provisions of the New Jersey Uniform Construction code. Newly constructed buildings, or existing buildings whose construction code will change, will need a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the municipality where it is located. Child care centers to be located in newly constructed buildings or renovated buildings must submit preliminary and final architectural drawings to the local construction official and to the Bureau of Licensing for review and approval prior to construction or renovation.
All child care centers must have indoor maintenance and sanitation requirements as follows:
- The center must be free of moisture resulting from water seepage or leaks.
- Floors, windows, walls, ceilings, carpets and other surfaces must be maintained clean and in good repair.
- There should be no tripping hazards in stairways.
- Carpet must be securely fastened to the floor.
- Garbage receptacles must be durable, leak-proof and covered, and must be maintained in a sanitary condition.
- Food waste receptacles must be lined and maintained in clean and sanitary condition.
- The center must be free of rodent or insect infestation.
- Toilets, kitchen sinks, wash basins and all plumbing must be in good operating and sanitary condition.
- All corrosive and hazardous materials, including toxic substances, must be stored in locked cabinets or in enclosures that are not accessible to the children.
- All windows and other glass surfaces must have protective guards.
- Ventilation outlets must be clean and free of any obstruction.
- Walls must be painted when there is excessive peeling or when in heavily soiled condition.
- All shelves must be secured and not overloaded.
- The center must be tested for the presence of radon gas at least once every five years and the results posted in prominent locations in the center.
- The center shall post results of drinking water tests in prominent locations in the center.
All child care centers must observe outdoor maintenance and sanitation requirements as follows:
- The building, grounds, walkways, and outdoor play area must be free of any hazards to the health, safety, and well-being of the children.
- The outdoor play area must be provided with drains to dispose of surface water.
- The building structure must be maintained to prevent entry of water, excessive drafts or heat loss, and infestation from rodents and insects.
- The center must comply with the Playground Safety Subcode of the New Jersey Uniform Construction code.
The child care center building and rooms must be properly illuminated. There shall be a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in all rooms used by the children.
The child care center must prepare a written emergency procedure which must be posted in prominent locations in every floor of the center. The emergency procedure shall provide for the following:
- The location of the first aid kit and additional first aid supplies
- The name, address and telephone number of the physician retained by the center for emergency situations
- The procedure for obtaining emergency transportation
- The hospital or clinic to which any injured or ill child will be taken
- The telephone numbers for emergency services such as police, fire, ambulance, poison control services, and the National Poison Emergency Hotline at (800) 222-1222
- The location, per parents’ written authorization, for emergency medical care for each child
- A diagram showing the center’s evacuation route in case of an emergency
- Location of the fire alarms and fire extinguishers
- Procedures for children’s safety and communicating with parents in the event of an evacuation, lockdown, natural or civil disaster and other emergencies.
The child care center shall provide the children a variety of planned activities that are geared to the ages and developmental levels of the children served. The activities must promote the development of language, thinking and problem-solving skills, curiosity, exploration, large and small muscles, social competence, self-esteem, and positive self-identity which must be relevant to the cultural background of the children and must foster intercultural awareness.
The child care center staff members who will develop and implement the center’s daily activities must ensure that:
- Time frames for each activity are geared to the age and developmental level of each child and are flexible enough to accommodate spontaneous occurrences or children’s suggestions and inquiries
- Children have opportunities to freely choose materials
- Children are encouraged to participate in a mixture of active and quiet experiences
- Both staff-directed and child-selected activities are provided
- Children are encouraged, but not required, to participate in every group activity and are provided with the time and space within the area to be apart from the group and to participate in an alternative activity if they choose to do so.
The child care center must provide appropriate program equipment, such as play equipment, child-size furniture and supplies, that are age and developmentally appropriate.
Food and Nutrition
All child care centers must comply with the following food and nutrition requirements:
- Food served to children during normal mealtime hours must be provided by the child’s parents or by the center.
- Food provided by the center must be prepared either by the center on-site or off-site or by a licensed caterer who is registered and certified by the local or county health department or by the State Department of Health and Senior services.
- The center shall provide food to a child whose parents are supposed to provide food but failed to do so.
- Food provided by the center must be stored, prepared, and served in a sanitary manner.
- Parents must be advised by staff members if any feeding problem occurs.
- Children must not be force-feed or be coerced to eat by any staff member.
- A snack is to be served for children who will be at the center for at least three consecutive hours.
- Children must be given access to drinking water.
- The center must observe special diets for children due to health reasons, religious beliefs or parental request.
- The center must have an adequate supply of food and must serve meal or snack whenever a child is hungry or has missed a meal.
Rest and sleep requirements
The child care center must provide rest and sleeping facilities to children under its care. Children must be supervised by a staff member during their sleeping or nap periods. Linens and blankets must be changed when wet, soiled or damaged and before use by another child. All sleeping equipment must meet the standards of safety organizations such as the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, the American Society for Testing and Materials, or the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Policy on release of children
The child care center must have in a place a written policy on the release of children. A child must be released only to the parents or persons authorized by the parents to take the child from the center and assume responsibility for the child in an emergency if the parents cannot be reached. In case a non-custodial parent has been denied access, or is only granted limited access, to the child by virtue of a court order, the center must keep on file a copy of such order and observe the same.
When a parent or a person authorized by the parents fails to pick up a child at the center’s closing period, the following shall be observed:
- The child must be supervised at all times
- Staff members must attempt to contact the parents or the persons authorized by the parents
- When the staff members fail to contact the parents or the persons authorized by the parents an hour after closing time, the staff member can call the Division’s 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline to ask for assistance in caring for the child until the parents or the persons authorized by the parents can pick up the child.
The child care center must use methods of guidance and discipline that are positive, consistent with age and developmental needs of the children, and must lead to the child’s ability to develop and maintain self control. Staff members must not discipline children for failing to eat or sleep or for soiling themselves.
The center must maintain on file a written policy on children discipline. This policy, which must include acceptable actions that staff members may take when disciplining a child, must be distributed to all staff members and must be posted in prominent locations in the center.
In order to prevent child abuse and/or neglect and inappropriate staff behaviors toward children, the following must be strictly observed:
- Hitting, shaking or any other form of corporal punishment shall not be used against any child.
- Abusive language, ridicule, harsh, humiliating or frightening treatment or any other form of emotional punishment must not be used on any child.
- Staff members must not engage in or inflict any form of child abuse and/or neglect.
- Staff members must not discipline a child by withholding food, emotional responses, stimulation, or the opportunities for rest or sleep.
- Staff members must not require a child to remain silent or inactive for an inappropriately long period of time for the child’s age.
Children’s Records Checklist
The child care center must complete and maintain on file for each enrolled child a Children’s Records Checklist indicating that documentation has been obtained of:
- The child’s name, address, birth date, and date of enrollment
- The names, home and work addresses, home and work telephone numbers and signatures of parents
- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons authorized by the parents to visit the child at the center and/or take the child from the center
- The name, address, and telephone number of the child’s health care provider
- Signed authorization from the parents for emergency medical treatment
- Health information for each child
- The parents’ signature attesting to the receipt of the Information to Parents documents
A child care center must permit attendance to the center of a child who has the illness or symptoms of illness unless there is a certification from the child’s child care provider that the child poses no serious health risk to himself or to other children. Such illnesses or symptoms are as follows:
- Severe pain or discomfort
- Acute diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
- Two or more episodes of acute vomiting within a 24 hour period
- Elevated oral temperature of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or axillary temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or over in conjunction with behavior changes
- Yellow eyes or jaundiced skin
- Red eyes with discharge
- Infected, untreated skin patches
- Difficult rapid breathing or severe coughing
- Skin rashes in conjunction with fever or behavior changes
- Weeping or bleeding skin lesions that are untreated by a health care provider
- Mouth sores with drooling
- Stiff neck.
The child may be allowed to return to the center only when he is symptom-free or when a health care provider indicates that the child poses no serious health risk to himself or to other children.
TABLE OF EXCLUDABLE COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
|Respiratory Illnesses||Gastro-Intestinal Illnesses||Contact Illnesses|
|German Measles*||Escherichia coli*||Lice|
|Hemophilus Influenzae*||Giardia Lamblia*||Scabies|
|*Reportable diseases , as required by N.J.A.C. 10:122-7.10(a).|
The child care center shall not allow a child or a staff member with an excludable communicable disease ( refer to above table) to be admitted or to remain at the center, until:
- The child’s or staff member’s health care provider states that the child or staff member has been diagnosed and present no risk to himself or to others
- The center has contact the Communicable Disease Program in the State Department of Health and Senior Services, or local health department, and is told that the child or staff member does not pose any health risk to others
- If the child or staff member who has chicken fox has informed the center that all sores have dried and crusted.
Health and Immunization Requirements
Children served by a child care center who are not enrolled in a public or private school must have a health examination performed by a health care provider within six months prior to admission for children below 2 years of age, or one year prior to admission for children above 2 years of age. The center must maintain on file a Universal Child Health Record (Department of Health and Senior Services Form CH-14), updated annually, along with an immunization record, and a special care plan, if applicable.
If immunizations are contraindicated for medical reasons, the center may allow admission of a child provided the parents of the child submit to the center a written statement from a health care provider attesting the reason the immunization is medically contraindicated and the specific time period that the immunization is medically contraindicated.
Injury to a Child
The child care center must take necessary action to protect the child from further harm and shall immediately notify the child’s parents verbally when one of the following occurs while the child is under the care of the center:
- A child is bitten and the skin is broken
- A child sustains head injury
- A child falls from a height that is greater than the child’s height
- An injury that requires professional medical care occurs.
A child care center may choose to provide or arrange for the provision of transportation for children to or from their homes or other prearranges sites and the center or in connection with an activity, such as a field trip, conducted by the center.
The center shall see to it that each vehicle used to provide transportation of enrolled children to and from the center is equipped with the following:
- Three triangular portable red reflector warning devices
- A fully charged fire extinguisher which shall be located at the front and securely mounted to the right of the driver in such a way that it will not pose as an obstruction or hazard to the passengers
- A seat belt cutter
- A removable first-aid kit in an accessible place within the vehicle
- Forward-facing seats. Each seat exit must be free of obstructions.
The center must see to it that the person who will be driving the vehicle is properly licensed as to the type of vehicle that he will be driving.
The following vehicle-related safety practices must be observed at all times:
- Children must not be left unattended in a vehicle.
- Children must be accepted and discharged from the curbside of the vehicle.
- The interior and exterior of the vehicle must be maintained in clean and safe condition.
- All vehicles that are utilized to transport children must be equipped with child passenger restraint systems and/or booster seats that meet Federal motor vehicle safety standards.
- The driver must not transport children and adults beyond the allowable occupancy of the vehicle.
- The driver and/or an additional adult in the vehicle shall ensure that all passengers are seated and remain seated when the vehicle is in motion.
- There shall be no standee in any vehicle that transports children.
- The driver must ensure that at the end of each run, the vehicle is checked to see to it that no child has been left on the vehicle.
- Smoking is not allowed in all vehicles occupied by children.
- The driver or additional adult must ensure that children below six years of age discharged from the vehicle are received by their parents or persons designated by the parents.
Every child care center or person providing transportation services must secure and maintain vehicle liability insurance for bodily injury or death in minimum amounts required by state laws and regulations.
The center shall maintain on file a record of each child transported together with the name and address of each driver, a photo copy of the driver’s valid license, and the year, make and model of each vehicle used by the center to transport children.
FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN NEW JERSEY
- Atlantic City
- Cherry Hill
- City of Orange
- East Brunswick
- East Orange
- Fair Lawn
- Fort Lee
- Jersey City
- Long Branch
- Mount Laurel
- New Brunswick
- North Bergen
- North Brunswick
- Old Bridge
- Parsippany-Troy Hills
- Perth Amboy
- South Brunswick
- Toms River
- Union City
- West New York
- West Orange
State Licensing Contact
Some cities and counties in the state of New Jersey have additional regulations or requirements on the operation of child care centers. More information can be obtained by checking with the city and county government units. The main state licensing contact for New Jersey is:
State of New Jersey Dept. of Human Services
Office of Licensing
PO Box 707
Trenton, NJ 08625-0717
Phone: (877) 667-9845 or (609) 292-1018
Web Page: http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/divisions/licensing/laws.html