Start a Daycare in North Dakota – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
From the North Dakota law, administering of license to Early Childhood Services and regulating child care settings in the state of North Dakota is assigned to the Department of Human Services.
Through licensing, the consumer’s welfare is protected. With a license, the child care center follows a certain standard and it is monitored by the authority. Licensing regulations aim to promote child’s safety and to protect their well-being in the child care center. The centers are required to follow the standards on these:
- required physical area for the facility
- safety features
- qualifications of staffs
- ratios on the staff-to-child
The office of the county social services conducts different investigations and licensing studies. It reviews and then makes necessary recommendations regarding the investigation and it forwards these to regional office, which in return either issue or deny licenses. All of the licensed facilities are visited twice a year. One visit is announced while the other is not.
The complaints are studied and investigated during the on-site visitation. In case there is violation, the center will receive/suffer these: correction order, suspension, revocation, fiscal sanction, or injunction.
Categories of Licensed Provider of Child Care
- Licensed Family Child Care – It takes care a maximum of seven children in the house of the provider
- Licensed Group Child Care – It takes care eight to eighteen children in the house of the provider or any facility other than the provider’s house
- Licensed Child Care Center – It takes care of more than nineteen children in the private or public buildings, schools or churches; the children are grouped according to their age
- Licensed Preschool – This gives part-time experiences to the children in terms of education and socialization aspects. It caters children at age two to preschool-age
- Licensed School-Age Program – This takes care of at least nineteen school-age children either before or after school; some even provide care during holidays and vacations
- Multiple License Facility – This has multiple type of license like a Preschool and a Center
Categories of Unlicensed Provider of Child Care
- Self-Certified Provider – It takes care of maximum of five children or three infants in the house of the provider. This category of child care is not licensed so it is not monitored but it is qualified in participating to the Child Care Assistance Program.
- Approved Relative – It takes care of a maximum of five children or three infants. It is qualified in participating to the Child Care Assistance Program. Under the federal law, in this category, the provider must have relationship to the children under their care such as by blood relationship or marriage. Blood relationship or relationship through court order includes: aunties, uncles, great-grandparents, and grandparents. An eighteen year old sibling or older and does not live in the house where the child leaves could also be considered as approved relative. All the adults in the house are checked by for the “North Dakota Office of Attorney General, Convicted Sex Offenders and Offenders against Children-Public List”. This category of unlicensed child care is not required to be monitored by the authority.
- Registered Provider – This is qualified in participating in the Child Care Assistance Program and is registered generally by the Tribal entities
This is an unlicensed child care provider who takes care of at least infants or minimum of six mixed-age children which is operating illegally.
The following are the different agencies which cater the needs of child care services in North Dakota:
Child Care Licensing Agency
North Carolina Department of Human Services
Children and Family Services
600 East Boulevard
State Capitol Building
Bismarck, ND 58505-0250
Phone: (701) 328-4809
Fax: (701) 328-3538
Toll Free: (800) 245-3736
Child Care Subsidy Agency
North Dakota Department of Human Services
Children and Family Services Division
600 East Boulevard Avenue, Department 325
Bismarck, ND 58505-0250
Phone: (701) 328-4809
Toll Free: (800) 245-3736
Fax: (701) 328-3538
Head Start – State Collaboration Office
North Dakota Department of Human Services
Children and Family Services Division #325
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND, 58505
Phone: (701) 328-1711
Fax: (701) 328-3538
Child Care Food Program Agency
State Department of Public Instruction
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismark, North Dakota 58505-0440
Phone: (701) 328-2294 or (888) 338-3663
Fax: (701) 328-2461
State Child Care Resource &
North Dakota Child Care Resource & Referral Network
1616 Capitol Way
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: (701) 223-1510
Fax: (701) 223-0440
Office of Child Support Enforcement
Child Support Enforcement Agency
Department of Human Services
Bismarck, North Dakota 58507-7190
Phone: (701) 328-3582
Fax: (701) 328-5497
Hotline for Reporting Child Abuse : To report child abuse in North Dakota, you can call (800) 245-3736.
Child Care Regulation
Based on the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education, the regulations on child care in North Dakota are:
|different documents that regulates safety and health of child care in North Dakota||Effective Date|
|In-Home Child Care Homes Early Childhood Services Chapter 75-03-07||1/1/1987|
|Family Child Care Homes Early Childhood Services Chapter 75-03-08||1/1/1999|
|Group Child Care Homes Early Childhood Services Chapter 75-03-09||1/1/1999|
|Child Care Center Early Childhood Services Chapter 75-03-10||1/1/1999|
|Preschool Educational Facilities Early Childhood Services Chapter 75-03-11||1/1/1999|
|Affidavit of Standard Compliance and Child Care Provider Certification Chapter 75-03-07.1||6/1995|
|School Age Child Center Early Childhood Services Chapter 75-03-11.1||1/1/1999|
Required Number of Staff and the Group Size
The staff must have attended training and had demonstrated the ability to deal with children and have any of the following requirements: Montessori teacher certification; AA in early childhood development; CDA or certification by the federal, state or local; HS diploma and 1 year experience in child caring or similar setting; or HS equivalent and a year of experience in child caring or similar setting.
- The quantity of the staff members with their individual roles must reflect to the program. And also, the difference on the needs of each that is enrolled and the necessary groupings are indicated. The personnel who are assigned in food preparation and housekeeping are not considered in the ratio. The children with special needs must be given enough supervision and care without sacrificing the other children in the center.
- There must be sufficient staff in the center to serve the individual needs of all children admitted. The staff/child ratios in North Dakota are presented below:
Age Range Ratio For Center-based Care 0 – 24 months (1:4) 2 years (1:5) 3 years (1:7) 4 years (1:10) 5 years (1:12) 6 – 12 years (1:18) Age Range Ratio For Family Child Care All ages (1:7) and additional two school age children which are before and after school
- If there are children with disabling conditions that require extra care and attention, the number of staff depends on their developmental age levels.
- For the mixed-aged groups, the size of the group should be in accordance to majority ages of the children, 0 – 24 months for infants and 24 – 36 months for toddlers. The size of the group for the toddlers and infants should be maintained when they belong to mixed group.
- Local or the state fire authorities are the one who is doing the annual inspection. They will check the establishment if they met the fire and safety standards. If ever that the inspector will find any violation, the operator of the day care should correct it to get the license to operate.
- The local fire department requires establishment with smoke detectors, fire alarms, and fire extinguisher. Make sure that your day care is equipped with these fire gadgets.
- The day care should meet the minimum fire and safety standards and if the inspector is satisfied, he will write a commendation that the establishment has been inspected and had complied with the fire codes.
Minimum Sanitation and Safety Requirements
- If your day care center will offer meals for children and staff, annual inspection is needed by the Department of Health. However, if your day care program will not offer food service, only occasional food preparation or snacks, the state department of health inspection is not needed.
- The day care bathroom lavatories, tables, chairs, toilets, floors should be cleaned daily. The cots and mats should be carefully labeled, washed and sanitized in a weekly basis. If different child will use the mats and cots, make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned in between use to prevent any transfer of diseases. Each child’s personal beddings, like blanket and covering, should be labeled and store separately.
- The day care establishment should be properly maintained, these includes the day care building, play grounds, and equipment. Create and maintain an environment that is healthy and safe for children under your care and for your staffs or employees.
- Food handlers should routinely wash their hands before and after food preparation, food serving, or any contacts with food especially if they are coming from the toilet, wiping their nose, or any contacts of their body fluids. For those employees or staffs who are assisting kids to the toilets, after diapering, or just using toilet facilities, they are required to wash and sanitize their hands. So each lavatory should have soap, sanitizers, paper towels because this will encourage and maintain cleanliness for food handlers and staffs.
- All toys, and indoor or outdoor equipment, should be cleaned and sanitized everyday. They should be durable, safe from any toxic chemicals or substances, easily cleaned, and in good condition to avoid accidents.
- The playground or outside environment of your day care center should be cleaned and protected from the outside environment so it should be equipped with fence. Make sure that there is no stagnant water in the vicinity because these will be a good breeding ground for mosquitoes or some insects. There must also be no unprotected wells, flammable or any hazardous materials that will endanger a child’s health.
- Garbage should be kept in non-combustible, tightly sealed containers away from children and open burning is definitely not permitted within the day care premises.
- The play grounds should be safe and must not be contained from any unsafe areas, like outside traffic, wells, excavations or holes. Outside grounds should be equipped with natural barriers or fence.
- Potential hazards which include chemicals used for cleaning, non-insulated or open wires, medicines, poisonous plants, unprotected outlets, and open staircase should not be accessible especially to a young child.
- Floors in the day care should be always clean and well-maintained to prevent accidents caused by splinters and slippery pavements from accumulated water, snow, or debris.
- Stairways or porches should be equipped with railings accessible or applicable to the average height of children under your care and build safety gates to prevent accidents like falls.
- The day care establishment should be free from insects or rodents. The use of chemicals to terminate these is prohibited to use within the premises.
- Maintain the exit doorways and pathways to be accessible.
- If your program provides care for children in wheelchairs, make sure that your doors have sufficient width and the ramps should be added to your facilities to accommodate them for their mobility.
- Lighting in your day care should be properly protected or covered with shatterproof material.
- Combustible materials should be stored away from light bulbs and other heated surfaces.
- Your establishment should be well ventilated, properly insulated, and equipped with heating and cooling apparatus for the child’s comfort. During summer, the room should maintain a temperature of not less than 68°F (20°C) and not more than 74°F (23.33°C) three feet or 91.44 centimeters above the ground or floor. Heating and cooling devices should be approved by the local authorities.
- If the establishment that you are occupying is built before January 01, 1970, with surfaces that are flaking, peeling, chipping, or in chewed condition, it should be repainted, fixed and you should report that because it may do contain any hazardous substances like lead. It should pass the allowable lead content by the lead detecting apparatus or instrument imposed by the state department of health.
- Personal items by each child like comb, feeding bottles, pacifiers, blankets, and toothbrush should be labeled and stored individually in a sanitized storage.
- All pets, if present in your establishment, should be properly maintained and immunized to prevent any hazards to the health and safety of children and employees. Stray animals like skunks, raccoon, squirrel, opossum, whether or not regarded as pets should not be allowed from the premises. These animals or pets should not be allowed inside the kitchen or the food preparation area.
- Small pool that is use in your day care should be cleaned and sanitized before and after use, and close supervision is needed if children are using it. All pools should be approved by the local health department.
- Smoking should not be permitted at all times within your establishment.
- There should be an assigned area for changing diapers in the center. A sink intended for handwashing must be accessible to this area.
- Washable diapers are not allowed in the child care center.
- Diapers should be changed immediately when needed and it must be in sanitary manner. The infants should be changed on a clean and washable surface and it has to be washed and sanitized every after use.
- Used disposable diapers should be kept in airtight containers and be regularly removed from the premise of the center.
Standards on Water
- It is necessary for a child care center to have clean drinking supply from the community water system or from any source that are tested that approved by Department of Health of the state.
- The drinking water should be accessible to children in child care center. It could be through an angle-jet drinking fountain with a mouth guard or through running water supply and with single-serve individual drinking cups.
- There must be running cold and hot water in the child care center. The faucets must have anti-scalding device or tempering valve so that the supply of hot water will have a maximum of 100oF only.
Facilities on Lavatory and Toilet
- There should be available lavatory and toilet facilities in the center that are convenient and accessible to all the children and even the staffs.
- The facilities for the lavatory and toilet should meet the state department of health’s requirements.
- There should be a separate room for the toilets and it has to be away from those that are used for sleeping, eating, and cooking. There shall be at least one lavatory and a flush toilet available for every fifteen children in the center. The children who are not yet toilet trained are not included here.
- There should be separate restrooms for the girls and boys who are six years old and above. And, partitions are required to be installed in between the toilets.
- If needed, potty chairs, training chairs, and toilet adapters that are child-sized should be provided. The training chairs must be emptied immediately and be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly after every use.
- There should be a minimum of one lavatory intended for handwashing for every toilet facility. Paper towels and hand drying equipment must be accessible to the lavatories.
- Stepping stools should be provided for the children so that they can conveniently use adult height lavatories.
Disposal of Water Wastes and Sewage
- The requirements on plumbing code, stated in North Dakota Administrative Code, must be followed.
- The disposal system of water wastes and sewage of the center must be approved by department of health of the state.
- There should be enough space for the equipment and operation of laundry service (if there is) in the child care center. The service could be laundry for the towels, blankets, or linens.
- Soiled linens should be kept in hampers or closed containers especially during storing and transporting.
- Sorting, washing, and handling soiled blankets or linens must be done in an assigned area which is away from the kitchen and areas where food are prepared and served.
- Transporting or washing laundries during the preparation and serving of food are prohibited. In case it is impractical for a center to have a separate area for kitchen and laundry, there should be procedures developed to avoid these to happen.
- It is not allowed to sort the laundries in areas that are used for preparing and serving food including the kitchen.
- The temperature of the water to be used for laundering together the blankets, towels, and linens must be above 170oF. But, if the water temperature is not like this, bleach could be used during rinse cycle to attain the 50ppm available hypochlorite for the temperature of 75oF.
Space and Lighting Requirements
Your child care center should provide the minimum space requirement for each child.
- Your day care should provide at least 35 square feet or equivalent to 3.25 square meters per child inside the establishment and at least 75 square feet or equivalent to 6.97 square meters outside the building or the play space.
The indoor space excludes bathrooms, pantries, hallways, etc. If the playground or outside space of your day care can not meet the minimum space requirement of all kids outside for play, you need to make a schedule of outdoor playtime that will meet the space requirement per child. This will give opportunity for each child to play outdoors.
- Your establishment should have proper lighting facilities and should meet the following technical requirements:
- 65 foot-candles of light for play area and general usage inside the building
- 25 foot-candles of light for bathrooms
- 50 foot-candles of light for food preparation area or kitchen, laundry, office area
- 15 foot-candles of lights for hallways or corridors, storage area
- If still the lighting of your day care premises is questionable, add more lights to meet the standard lighting that are required by the local authorities
- The day care should have a daily program for individual or small group activities suitable for each child’s developmental needs. The program activities should enhance or develop social, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs and each activity should be approved by parents.
- The program activities should be flexible to change or modification to cater each child’s individual needs.
- Various activities should be included in your program, make sure that it will cover all aspects of the child’s needs. The activities should: enhance physical and emotional well being of the child; acquire information or knowledge; enhance language skills and problem solving skills; and develop self discipline and the child’s confidence.
The program that is set by your day care should be recorded, planned, and made available by parent’s approval and scrutiny. If your day care is offering services for disabled children, make sure that the activities planned will also suit them.
- Field trips or supervised visits, and recreational opportunities in the community should be included in your program. This will provide first hand experience for children to learn about the world they live in.
- The program activities should be consulted with parents before finalizing it to ensure harmony with the cultural background of each child.
- The program should have balance activity between quiet and active outdoor group and individual activities. You can also give opportunity for a child to select an option of what activity he/she likes at the moment because this will develop decision making, self confidence, and a sense of autonomy that he/she is in control of his/her life.
- You should allow children to prepare or assist in preparation of their food in the kitchen but make sure that they are closely supervised. They should be allowed the limited usage of equipment or appliances and make sure that everything is in good condition to prevent accidents.
- Make sure that you have variety of toys, books, game boards, and other activity materials to enhance their intellectual and social development while in play. There should be enough play materials and equipment for each child under your care so that everybody will be involved.
- Take note of the cultural diversity of children enrolled in your day care when you are preparing the program. Incorporate also their special events or celebrations, food, language, and lifestyle.
- Equipment and furniture must be durable, easy to clean, safe, and must be appropriate to their height and size.
- The child’s personal belongings should be stored separately and make sure that it is accessible.
- During enrollment, your staff should discuss with parents the child’s habits, activities, and schedules while at home and at school. If parents have special concerns or requests about the child’s past, behavior, or development, these should be noted so that the schedule of activities or the program will be designed to complement and supplement the child’s experience at home and at school.
- You should encourage parents to visit, observe, and participate in the care of their children.
- The day care should get parents’ participation in planning the program policy. Their ideas and suggestions are very important in the making of the different activities of the program and also this will give you opportunity to address each child’s need.
- Stress-out the personal hygiene practices applicable to the child’s age and development.
- The child care head or supervisor should talk to each child’s parents directly and promptly to discuss concerns pertaining to the child’s health, behavior, developmental improvements, and performance.
- Each child’s ethnic and cultural background, primary language or native dialect, should be respected by the day care staffs and employees.
- Designate a place in your day care establishment where children can rest or lie down. There should be enough sleeping materials like cots, mats, cribs, and or play pen and enough space for each child for napping. The floor can be used provided they are carpeted or padded, free from clutter or drafts, and warm. Napping schedule should be included in your program depending the child’s age and needs, however if they were not able to sleep, set a time and space for activity that is not strenuous.
Standards for Food Nutrition
- If your day care is preparing meals for the children, you should meet the standards of United States Department of Agriculture in food handling and preparation, nutritional dietary requirement for each child’s need, quantity per serving, and feeding time. The food preparation, serving, and storage should be handled properly and make sure to use sanitized utensils and equipment.
- If parents will bring lunch for their children, make sure that you have proper storage to avoid spoilage.
- A dietician, nutritionist, or other food service professional should be consulted in planning and preparation of food for your day care center.
- The day care should serve nutritious snacks especially if parents does not bring packed lunch
- children under your care for more than 3 hours should receive snacks or meals whatever appropriate to that time of the day;
- children under your care should follow normal meal time;
- children under your care that did not take food after lunch should be provided with nutritious snacks
- If you are providing meals in your day care, prepare or plan your menus in a weekly basis and make it available for parents or any concerned individual’s comments and suggestions.
- Parents should provide information about their child’s eating habits, special dietary needs, and food preference as guide for the preparation and planning of menus.
- Serve food with proper eating utensils, proper apportioning, diverse dishes, etc.
- Children should be encouraged to eat the food served in the center but they must not be forced to eat.
- The day care center should include the following information:
- full name, birth date, home address
- parents’ name or legal guardian, contact numbers
- name and mobile number of guardian or those legally responsible for the child in case of emergency
- written statement form of legal responsible guardian or parents giving authority for medical care in case of emergency
- name and mobile numbers of authorized person that will pick the child from your day care center
- verification of all immunizations received by the child
- current health assessment or health statement from parents that indicate some precautions regarding their diet, medication, and activity. The day care needs to know if the child is physically capable in participating programmed activities.
- All records should be treated with respect and confidentiality. Access must be limited to center’s staff, parents or legal guardian:
- authorized county and department representatives
- concerned individuals that serve the interest and well being of the child
- individuals who have written authorization from the child’s parent or legal guardian and they must sign in before the release of information
It is important to do the following disciplinary rules to avoid revocation and denial of license:
- There must be written policy on disciplining children and this must be explained well to the staffs before they handle the children.
- Discipline has to be educational or constructive and can include talking to the child about what had happened, separating from problem situation, praising the appropriate behavior, diversion, and a gentle physical restraint like holding. Fear, physical harm, or humiliation must not be used to discipline the children.
- The authority in disciplining must not be assigned or done by children.
- If separation is used as a form of discipline, the duration must be short, age appropriate, and depending on the circumstances. The child must be put in safe, well ventilated, and well lit room. He must not be left in locked closet or room.
- A child must not be punished physically when there are lapses during toilet training.
- A staff must not give offensive remarks about any child about his family background, religion, or race. It must not also use profane, threats, loud, or abusive language with the presence of a child.
- The child must not be forced to eat unless it is prescribed medically and administered under the physician’s care.
- Deprivation of snacks or meals is prohibited as disciplinary action.
- The staff or any adult in the center must not use punching, spanking, shaking, pinching, biting, or handling roughly to any child.
Specialized Care and the Minimum Requirements
- Infant care
- The child care center, catering children with age ranges to 0 – 24 months, must offer healthy environment that protects them from any physical harm. It must not be over restricted to the point that it inhibits development on intellectual, social, intellectual, and physical aspects.
- Children, that are not yet walking, must be given the opportunity to explore, move, crawl, or creep in an open, clean, safe, uncluttered area.
- A child must be assigned with his own sleeping space. Bed sheets should be changed immediately when wet or soiled. If there is individual protective covering as protection to linen, it must be washed every week.
- A child, below twelve months or cannot walk without assistance, shall be given a crib as his sleeping space. Its playpen or mattress must be firm and with enough padding.
- Children should be exposed to different physical surroundings and other children, by taking them outdoor and other areas in the child care premises. They should not be always inside their playpen or crib unless they are sleeping.
- Each infant must be given individual attention and the staff may talk, sing, rock or just hold him.
- Children, that are not required to be held during feeding, must be provided with low chairs, low tables, or seats for infants with trays to allow table play. The high chairs should have safety strap and wide base.
- Children must not be jostled or shaken.
- All the crying instances of infants should be investigated.
- The feeding pattern and diet of each child must be followed and it should be appropriate with his developmental needs. The foods of infant must be nutritious and according to his age. Breast milk or formula milk that is iron-fortified (which have met the requirements of Infant Formula Act) must be given to infants below six months.
- Infants should be fed with the brand of artificial milk which is requested by their parents. Staff members must observe the proper mixing instructions unless the child’s physician has provided other instruction.
- Unrefrigirated formula milk in bottles for beyond one hour must be disposed.
- Breast milk that is frozen should be thawed in cool tap water. Leftover thawed milk must be disposed every end of the day.
- Staff members must hold the infants when they are bottle-feeding.
- The infants, who ready for solid foods, must only be a spoonful amount of food.
- Staff members must never leave the infants unattended during eating or feeding.
- There should be at least two feet spaces between the cot or crib. The aisles in between must be free from all obstructions.
- Night Care
- Child care center, which offers night care, must offer modifications on their programs that cater special needs of the children and parents.
- There should be special attention on the transition of the emotional needs of the child when offering night care based on the direction of his parent.
- If possible, the child must be left and picked up while sleeping to have minimal disturbance on the child after considering the work schedule of the parent.
- Children, with preschool age, should be supervised during bathing period.
- There must be comfortable cots, cribs, or beds with complete pad or mattress.
- The mattresses and pillows should have coverings that are clean and sanitized.
- For hygiene and cleanliness, the pillowcases and sheet must be changed weekly. These should be used by a single child every after washing.
- There must be enough available blankets for every cot or bed.
- Each child is required to have his toothbrush and night clothing with proper identification.
- When the children are sleeping during the night, staffs should stay awake and with close distance to hear the children and to attend to their needs.
- Drop-in Care Center
- The staffs in drop in center must effectively handle the records on admission and explain the procedures and policies of their program. Drop-in center caters school children, or before school and after school children.
- The program of the center should reflect different special needs of children in drop-in service.
- The admission records have to comply with the enrollment requirements except those in immunization record.
- The procedures in admittance should provide a certain period for the individual attention to the child to allow acquaintance of the child to the equipment and staff of the center.
- The center must not receive part time or drop in children if they would already exceed to the required number of children upon their admittance.
Minimum Requirements for Caring Children with Special Needs
There should be proper provisions to satisfy the special needs of children that are admitted in the center. The center must document how to meet these special needs.
- The provider must consult the parents regarding the child’s professional health care or other professional and health consultants if necessary.
- Proper instructions must be considered regarding the disability of the child and his potential for development and growth.
- The center must employ additional staff and equipment if necessary based on the nature of needs of the children and their number which requires additional care and attention as approved by the department.