Start a Daycare in South Carolina – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
|START A DAYCARE IN SOUTH CAROLINA||DAYCARE LICENSE|
|DIGITAL FINGERPRINTING||LICENSING REGULATIONS|
|HEALTH, SAFETY AND SANITATION||CHILD CARE LICENSING PROGRAM|
|FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN SOUTH CAROLINA|
Parents want the best for their children, even for their kids’ home away from home. Child care centers do not only serve as places to leave their children while they’re at work, but these also serve as places where their children can learn and grow among their peers. With this, the South Carolina government makes sure that child care centers serve their purpose well – these facilities undergo a process that ensures quality of service, security, and overall satisfaction of the parents and their children. State regulations assure qualified personnel, protocols and facilities. Failure to comply with the standards and/or regulations will lead to appropriate sanctions, or even to the revocation of the child care establishment’s license.
Securing a License
According to the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), “any person, corporation, partnership, voluntary association, or other organization, whether private or public, may secure information about the licensing/approval process by contacting staff of the State or Regional Child Care Licensing Office”.
The SCDSS Child Care Licensing Program particularly specifies the following criteria for child care establishment to obtain a license :
Center Director/Co-Director must be at least 21 years old and must meet one of the following requirements:
- A bachelor’s degree or advanced degree from a state-approved college or university in early childhood education, child development, child psychology or a related field that includes at least eighteen credit hours in child development and/or early childhood education
- A bachelor’s degree from a state-approved college or university in any subject area, six months experience working with children in a licensed, approved or registered child care facility
- An associate degree from a state-approved college or university in early childhood education, child development, child psychology or a related field, that includes at least eighteen credit hours in child development and/or early childhood education with six months work experience in a licensed, approved or registered child care facility
- A diploma in child development/early childhood education from a state-approved institution or a child development associate credential (CDA) and one year work experience in a licensed, approved or registered child care facility
- A high school diploma or GED with 3 years experience in a licensed, approved or registered child care facility. One year shall include supervision of child care staff.
In addition, child care center staff members must be 18 years old, and literate. They must have a high school diploma or GED and at least 6 months experience as child center personnel/caregivers in a licensed/approved facility. They must also complete 6 hours of training in child growth and development/early childhood education within 6 months of hiring.
- Zoning Approval
- Architectural plans to be submitted to the State Fire Marshal
- Fire inspection
- Sanitation inspection ($60.00)
- Child Care Licensing inspection
- State and Federal fingerprint checks. State agencies no longer accept ink-rolled fingerprints. Only scanned prints are now accepted
- Three Letters of Reference
- Staff certified in Basic First Aid and CPR to cover all hours of operation
- Training Requirements to include blood-borne pathogens training as required by OSHA
- Consent to Release Information ($8.00 per person)
The center director shall complete appropriate SCDSS forms to apply for a license/approval. The required number of forms, a copy of current child care center regulations, a copy of Section 20-7-2700 et seq., Code of Laws of South Carolina (1976), (Child Care Statute) and a copy of Sections of the Children’s Code related to child abuse and neglect with an explanation of procedures and information required by the Department shall be given to the applicant by the Department representative. The Department representative shall then write a request to health and fire officials to make inspections of the facility.
After the Department on-site inspection and the fire and health inspections have been conducted, the SCDSS shall review the completed application form, inspection reports; current child abuse and criminal history background records checks, written policies and other information specified by the SCDSS determine whether or not a license/approval shall be issued.
Since state agencies no longer accept ink-rolled fingerprints, the SCDSS has teamed up with Integrated Biometric Technology (IBT) to provide digital fingerprint scanning services for child care providers that are required to undergo a state and federal fingerprint-based criminal history background check. This electronic digital fingerprinting gives the quickest and most accurate way of submitting and processing material for these background checks.
This technology will reduce processing time, decrease fingerprint card rejection, give additional security to applicant identity, allow convenient scheduling services, and accommodate more convenient methods of payment.
Live scan digital fingerprinting sites are currently located in Columbia, North Charleston, Greenville, Florence, and Rock Hill. There are also mobile live scan services that can be provided for 25 or more applicants upon request.
A State Applicant Fingerprint Electronic (SAFE) live scan form should be accomplished by each applicant prior to scheduling appointments. Information from this form will be needed when an appointment is scheduled. Note: A unique ID number is required to schedule your appointment. Only your facility has this number, so please refrain from sharing this number with another facility. If you do not know your number, please call your regional office.
For questions concerning the live scan digital fingerprinting, contact IBT at 1-866-254-2366 or the Fingerprint Liaisons with the Department of Social Services Division of Investigation: Sephra Alston – 803-898-8007 or Avis Tillman – 803-898-8006.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have had your fingerprints taken, and have received results, you do not need to go through this again. This process is only for new operators/child care personnel who have not been previously fingerprinted.
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For online scheduling, go to www.ibtfingerprint.com.
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For call center scheduling, call 1-866-254-2366 and speak to one of the operators. This is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST. Operators will ask for the required information and schedule your appointment. Please provide your facility ID number
Walk-ins will be accommodated, but should only be done when an unavoidable circumstance or emergency has prevented the individual to schedule an appointment. A valid ID with photo is required.
Methods of Payment: At the time of appointment scheduling, cashier checks, money orders, business checks, Visa or MasterCard, debit cards, E-checks, personal checks, and Escrow accounts will be accepted.
State (SLED) / Federal (FBI) fee plus IBT processing fee = total fee due
|Regular (paid) employees (part-time or full-time)||$38.50 + $10 = $48.50|
|Volunteers (not compensated but may be left in charge of children)||$30.50 + $10 = $40.50|
|Household Members (in Registered Family Child Care Homes)||$30.50 + $10 = $40.50|
|Charitable Organization (regular employees)||$27.25 + $10 = $37.25|
|Charitable Organization (volunteers)||$23.25 + $10 = $33.25|
At the time of appointment, cashier checks, money orders, business checks, personal checks, and Escrow accounts will be accepted. (Make checks payable to IBT.)
The child care center operator shall be responsible for the following:
- The policies and activities of the facility
- The formulation of written operating policies for the facility. The operator must also make this information available.
Written operating policies should include but not be limited to the following statements:
- On disciplinary methods to be used on the children
- On the release of children to authorized person(s)
- On the administration of medication
The type of services and program which the operating policies outline shall be offered by the facility in practice.
A copy of the center operating policies should be provided to the parent(s)/guardian(s), and these policies should be fully explained to them before the child is accepted to the facility.
Also, the operator will be provided of all notices concerning the status of the facility’s license/approval. Notices may also be received by the director in lieu of the operator.
1. Responsibilities of Center Director
The director shall oversee the overall day to day operation of the child care center. A staff member assigned by the director shall be responsible for overseeing the operation of the facility at times when the director is temporarily unavailable.
According to state regulations, a child care center director is responsible for the following :
- Administration and management of the center;
- Safety and protection of the children;
- Development and implementation of policies and procedures;
- Communication with parents about the policies and procedures of the center;
- Staff hiring, supervision and ongoing professional development; and
- Compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of the child care center.
Specifically, the director shall be responsible for making sure that the center’s program is planned and administered, that the facility complies with regulatory and statutory requirements, that the staff are well-chosen, well-trained, and doing their jobs well. The director should maintain accurate and complete administrative records related to enrollment, attendance, personnel, including records for volunteer(s) and emergency person(s), and discuss center policies with staff. The director must also make sure that the current license/approval is displayed in a prominent place, and that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Recommended Immunization Schedule is posted in an accessible location to the staff and to the parent(s)/guardian(s), as well as an understandable chart describing first aid medical treatment techniques.
All owners and operators and directors are responsible for being informed of all laws and regulations which are applicable to their facilities, such as antidiscrimination laws (e.g. the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).
A child care center must keep the general and health records of the children enrolled, as well as health records of the director, staff, emergency person(s) and volunteer(s).
According to State Regulations, the following information shall be maintained on file at the day care center and made available to the SCDSS upon request :
- Information on enrollment including separate groupings of children;
- Names, positions and hours of duty of staff members;
- General and health records for enrolled children;
- Records on staff;
- At least one copy of Section 20-7-2700 et seq., Code of Laws of South Carolina, a copy of sections of the Children’s Code related to child abuse and neglect and a copy of the current regulations for child day care centers which will be provided by the Department;
- Written policies;
- Three letters of reference for the center director;
- Criminal history background records check forms for the operator, director, staff, emergency person(s) and volunteer(s) (for facilities subject to licensure);
- Record of training for director and staff;
- Written statements signed by all staff members and parents of enrolled children regarding disciplinary policies of the center.
1. Center Director and Staff Qualifications
Aside from the qualifications mentioned earlier, a center operator, director, staff, emergency person(s), and volunteer(s) must undergo the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) criminal history background records check. These persons shall submit a current copy (less than one year old) of their background check form to the SCDSS.
A child care center administrator or personnel should not have any record of having committed child abuse or neglect, nor have any convictions for “any crime listed in Chapter 3 of Title 16, Offenses Against the Person, any crime listed in Chapter 15 of Title 16, Offenses Against Morality and Decency, and for the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contained in Section 16-17-490″. (SCDSS Regulations For The Licensing of Child Care Centers)
1. Training of Operator, Director and Staff
Operators, directors, staff, emergency persons, and volunteers are required to take part in training, each with a prescribed number of hours for every year.
Operators and directors shall participate in at least twenty clock hours of training annually. At least five clock hours shall be related to program administration and at least five clock hours shall be in child growth and development, early childhood education and/or health and safety.
All staff, except emergency person(s) and volunteer(s), who provide direct care to the children shall participate in fifteen clock hours of training annually. At least five clock hours shall be in child growth and development and at least five clock hours shall be in curriculum activities for children.
Training hours for all child care center operators, directors and staff shall not include first aid and child-infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
All training and information relating to those shall be documented in the records of the operator, director and each staff person and shall be maintained on file in the center.
Orientation for new staff, volunteer(s) and emergency person(s) shall be provided by the operator or director before they are employed at the facility and shall maintain documentation of the orientation on file in the facility.
1. Staffing and Supervision
Children shall be directly supervised at all times by qualified staff persons, capable addressing the children’s needs. There shall be at least two staff persons in the center at all times. The staff shall keep the children in sight, aware of their ongoing activities, and near enough to intervene if needed.
(Based on the SCDSS Regulations For The Licensing of Child Care Centers, resubmitted March 2, 2005)
|Child’s Age||Staff:Child Ratio|
|Two years after||Three years after||Four years after|
|Birth to one year;||1:5||1:5||1:5|
|One to two years||1:6||1:6||1:6|
|Two to three years||1:9||1:8||1:7|
|Three to four years||1:13||1:12||1:11|
|Four to five years||1:18||1:17||1:16|
|Five to six years||1:21||1:20||1:19|
|Six to twelve years||1:23||1:23||1:23|
In the event that there are mixed age groups in the same room, the staff to child ratio to be observed according to the age of the majority of the children when no infants or toddlers are in the mixed age group. When infants or toddlers are in the mixed age group, the staff to child ratio for infants and toddlers shall be followed.
1. Elements of the Program
There shall be a written, planned, daily program for the children, with activities that are developmentally appropriate for them. These activities should encourage mental, social, emotional and creative growth. The children should be allowed to communicate with others, ask questions, and be allowed outdoor play if the weather permits. Age appropriate radio and television, video and other media may be used as supplements to the children’s daily activities. Also, all children shall be allowed naptime that meets their developmental and individual needs.
Part of the center’s written policies are the disciplinary methods for the children. These methods should be positive, non-violent and non-abusive.
A copy of the disciplinary policies shall be provided by the operator or director for the staff members and parent(s)/guardian(s) of enrolled children. A review of those policies with all staff and parent(s)/guardian(s) shall take place, and then each staff member and parent(s)/guardian(s), shall furnish a signed, dated statement that he/she has read and understands the policies and the consequences of violation of these policies. These signed statements shall be maintained on file in the facility and shall be reviewed, signed and dated by each staff member and parent(s)/guardian(s) every year.
1. Site, Space and Equipment
Centers shall have sufficient indoor play space for the children, at least thirty- five (35) square feet per child. The physical facility shall be measured wall-to-wall by the SCDSS to meet their standards, and the total number of children to be cared for in each room shall be determined by the Department according to the separate room measurements and computations.
In line with this, outdoor play space shall also be provided for the children, at least seventy-five (75) square feet of outdoor play space per child. If outdoor space at the center is insufficient, the director and/or the staff may take the children out to play in shifts, or use a nearby park or any other outdoor play area, given that it meets the safety requirements for children.
A child care center’s equipment and materials should be safe and appropriate for the children, which allow them various experiences and which appeal to their individual interests and developmental levels. The materials and equipment supply should be sufficient for all enrolled children to avoid competition and waiting.
The center shall provide child-sized furniture or those appropriately adapted for the children’s use. Also, individual, comfortable and sanitary sleeping and resting equipment shall be provided for the children.
Another requirement is a listed, operational telephone. By the phone should be a list of contact numbers and emergency numbers such as the police, the fire department, an ambulance service, the poison control center or a central emergency number, as well as the children’s physicians, parent(s)/guardian(s) of the children, and emergency numbers of family and/or physician of staff members.
A vehicle should be immediately accessible in case of an emergency.
The center director and/or staff shall have on file written permission from parent(s)/guardian(s) for transporting children to and from the home, school, or other designated places, including center-planned field trips and activities. There should be written transportation plans of the travel route, including a checklist accounting for the children when they are loaded and unloaded at every location.
The vehicle should have sufficient space for the children to be comfortably and safely seated. The vehicle shall also maintain safety standards set by the Division of Motor Vehicles of South Carolina. The vehicle must have safety restraints and these should be used by the children while the vehicle is in motion. The staff to child ratio should be observed during transport, and a child shall not be left unsupervised in a vehicle.
The driver should have a valid driver’s license and he/she shall not have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or other serious moving violations involving the use of a motor vehicle. Safety precautions and emergency procedures shall be observed.
Health, Safety and Sanitation
1. Health Practices Regarding Children
The center has to make sure that their practices maintain cleanliness and sanitation for everyone’s benefit.
Children’s toiletries such as combs, brushes, toothbrushes, towels, washcloths and the like should be provided for each child’s personal use. These items should be properly identified and individually stored and maintained in a sanitary condition.
Staff shall wash their hands with soap and warm running water after caring for children’s needs such as diapering, toilet use, or wiping noses, or after exposure to blood or blood containing body fluids. The same shall apply before food preparation or service.
Children’s faces and hands should be thoroughly washed before and after meals. Their hands should be washed after use of the toilet.
The staff shall also observe proper procedure and policies in administering medication prescribed to the children, including the correct drug and dosage according to what was prescribed and instructed by the parent(s)/guardian(s). The administering of medication should have a written, signed and dated request from the parent(s)/guardian(s). Also, the director and/or staff shall record the time and dosage of all medication administered to children, and a copy shall be provided to the child’s parent(s)/guardian(s).
During the center’s operating hours, no drinking alcoholic beverages or smoking shall be allowed in areas used by the children, or at food preparation or storage areas. Consuming alcoholic beverages or use of other non-prescription narcotic or illegal substances shall not be allowed at center premises, and no one who appear to be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs shall not be allowed in the center when children are present.
1. Personal Health of Operator, Director and Staff
The operator and/or director shall maintain the health records in the center for herself/himself, staff, emergency person(s) and volunteer(s).
They should file medical statements provided by the Department (DSS Form 2901) verifying his/her medical history, noting any recent health concern, and that his/her health status is satisfactory. A written health assessment from a physician or health resource of the staff person to work with children shall be completed three months prior to employment or within the first month of employment, which include health history, physical exam, vision and hearing screening, tuberculosis screening, and a review of immunization status. The operator/director and staff shall obtain a new health assessment at least every four years after the initial assessment.
The facility should be located in an area reasonably free of safety hazards, such as ditches, unprotected wells, and other natural or man-made obstacles. If there is potential danger by a street, outdoor play or recreational areas shall be fenced in or surrounded by safety barriers at least four feet in height. Same goes for bodies of water in the surrounding area, including pools and ponds, etc. – safety barriers or fences of at least four feet should be erected around these. Doors and gates should be self-closing with positive acting latches that cannot be opened by children. The premises should also be provided with safe traffic entrances and exits, loading and unloading areas, and other protection.
The premises should be kept neat, clean and litter-free, and a means of pest control should be observed.
The facility shall be clean and well-built, well-ventilated and shall have effective utilities. Activity rooms, bathrooms, hallways, food preparation rooms, and the like should have adequate and safe lighting. Surfaces such as walls, floors, ceilings and table tops should be smooth and easily cleanable, and should be kept clean. Child care centers shall meet applicable lead base paint requirements to prevent lead poisoning in children.
Cleaning materials and supplies shall be kept away from children. Toxic chemicals, medicine, and other harmful agents shall be stored in a locked closet or cabinet used specifically for this purpose. In line with this, containers of hazardous chemicals shall be prominently and distinctly marked or labeled for easy identification.
Stairs and ramps should be safe and skid-free, with handrails and spacious landings. Porches and decks should have secure railings.
Outside stairs, walkways, ramps and porches shall be maintained free from accumulated ice, snow or water.
Regular cleaning should be done when children are not present. It should be done carefully, in order to avoid accidents or cause harm to the health and safety of the children.
Equipment used in the facility should be maintained in good and safe condition, and shall meet federal requirements construction and safety. Toys and other recreational equipment and furnishings should be kept clean and sanitized regularly. These should be durable, free of sharp edges, rust-free, and without loose parts. Only nontoxic arts and crafts materials shall be used.
Furniture, beds, cribs and playpens should be sturdy and clean, and should be repaired when broken. Linens and mattresses should be kept clean, cots and mats stored carefully.
Furniture and other items should be strategically placed so as to avoid accidents and harm.
Heating and cooling devices or other equipment accessible to children should have safety barriers to prevent accidents or injuries upon contact by the child.
The center should have a sufficient number of bathroom facilities, with a ratio of one toilet and lavatory per twenty persons. Toilets and sinks shall be accessible to all the children using them, and shall be equipped with safe and sturdy platforms or steps for smaller children. Bathrooms should have sufficient space, a window of not less than three square feet of open space, or shall have proper mechanical ventilation to the outside. These bathrooms should be maintained clean and in good condition. Water, soap, and individual towels shall be provided for every bathroom. Waste bins/receptacles shall be provided for each bathroom.
1. Water Supply
The water supply shall meet water quality requirements of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
Hot (between 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold water under pressure shall be provided at the center. (Forty PSI recommended.)
The director shall obtain approval pursuant to DHEC to ensure safe location, construction, and proper maintenance and operation of the system if an individual private well water supply is used.
Safe drinking water shall be available to children at all times. Common drinking cups shall not be used.
If a water fountain is available, it shall be of an angle-jet design. This should be maintained in good condition and kept clean. There shall be no possibility of mouth or nose becoming submerged.
When the center uses ice for any purpose, it shall be made from water from an approved source. The ice shall be handled and stored in a sanitary manner.
1. Waste Disposal
Waste shall be stored in properly in designated areas in an approved manner.
Garbage shall be stored in durable and easily cleanable containers. These receptacles should also be airtight and secure as to avoid a rodent, insect, or vermin problem.
All solid wastes shall be disposed of regularly and should be done securely to keep away pests.
All sewerage and liquid waste shall be disposed of in such a manner as not to create a public health hazard.
1. Preparation, Serving, Storage of Food and Protection of Food Supplies
If the center provides meals, daily menus shall be dated and posted in conspicuous places. Menus shall include a variety of foods.
The meals and snacks provided shall be in compliance with the USDA Child Care Food Program Guidelines. Food served should be suited to the child’s age and appetite. Second portions shall be available.
All food in child care centers shall be from a source approved by the health authority. These shall be clean, wholesome, unspoiled, free from contamination, properly labeled, and safe for human consumption.
Alternatives shall be provided to children with special health needs or religious belief.
No child shall be deprived of food when he/she is present during meal or snack time. In the same way, no child shall be forced to eat, nor shall food be used as punishment.
Dinnerware to be used should not be easily breakable. Common drinking cups shall not be allowed. Single service articles are prohibited from being reused. These items should be properly stored to ensure cleanliness.
Food and other ingredients should be properly stored and/or refrigerated to ensure freshness and cleanliness. The same way, storage material should be kept clean and in a secure place to avoid food contamination.
Food preparation staff should have hygienic practices before and after attending to the food. Sanitary and proper food storage, cleaning and cooking equipment and utensils shall be provided by the center. Proper preparation, cooking and serving methods should be observed to avoid food contamination.
1. Cleaning, Storage and Handling of Utensils and Equipment
The center’s tableware, kitchenware, and cookware shall be washed, rinsed, and sanitized after each use.
Food equipment surfaces, such as those cooking devices, shall be cleaned as often as necessary and should be free of grease deposits and other soil.
Surfaces of all dining and kitchen equipment, including tables, counters, and shelves, shall be cleaned regularly to be free of accumulation of dust, dirt, food particles, and other debris.
Cleaned and sanitized equipment and utensils shall be stored in a clean, dry place above the floor to protect these from contamination.
1. Fire Safety
Child care centers, both private and public, shall comply with the regulations and codes of the State Fire Marshal.
1. Care of Mildly-Ill Children
If a child becomes ill while in the child care facility, the parent(s)/guardian(s) must be notified immediately. The same goes when a child may have been exposed to a serious communicable disease that is spread through casual contact. The parent(s)/guardian(s) of all potentially exposed children should be informed about the nature of the illness and the potential exposure to the illness, and recommend consultation with the child’s physician.
If a center chooses to provide care to a mildly ill child, the center shall receive and follow instructions from the parent(s)/guardian(s) for any special care needs of the child.
Every facility should have written policies and procedures on caring for mildly ill children, and in the event that the center takes a mildly ill child under its care, these policies and procedures should be observed. There must be policies about communication with parent(s)/guardian(s), and on recording the illness and care provided, the specific types of illnesses and symptoms which prohibit care from being provided, the special staff training required and emergency health procedures.
Constant supervision is required if a child is ill and is staying at the rest or isolation area.
South Carolina Child Care Licensing Program
The South Carolina government has the Child Care Licensing Program which enforces laws and regulations established in the state to ensure that child care facilities provide the basic health and safety requirements for all children in their care.
The program makes sure that there are no regulation infringements and irregularities in the operations of child care centers. Furthermore, the Licensing division, or the Office of Child Care Regulatory Services, helps child care providers make sure that children in their care are healthy, safe, and supervised at all times.
Regulatory complaints are quickly investigated, and make child care facilities’ records public so that people can see the centers’ history of compliance.
The program staff members, called “Regulatory Specialists”, provide technical assistance to center operators/directors. They help child care providers obtain the necessary inspections from the State Fire Marshal and from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Unannounced visits are made to check whether providers abide by all laws and regulations. At least two unannounced visits are done annually to every child care center and group home in South Carolina. In addition, inspections are done every two years as part of the licensing renewal process.
When there are reports of child abuse or neglect made against a child care facility, the team works with the staff from the agency’s Out of Home Abuse and Neglect division to thoroughly investigate the report. Licenses or registrations are revoked when children are in danger.
The licensing division develops child care regulations for providers to follow. This is done with the help of an advisory committee (the State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Child Care Facilities).
FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
- Forest Acres
- Goose Creek
- Hilton Head Island
- Mount Pleasant
- Myrtle Beach
- North Augusta
- North Charleston
- North Myrtle Beach
- Rock Hill
- Seven Oaks
- St Andrews
- Wade Hampton
For inquiries, contact:
Child Care Licensing Agency
South Carolina Department of Social Services
Child Care Licensing
2638 Two Notch Road, Suite 200
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone: (803) 898-9020
Fax: (803) 898-9029