Start a Daycare in South Dakota – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
The State of South Dakota considers child care providers as important facilities for the welfare of its children. Parents of these children entrust their safety and proper learning of development to the state, knowing that there are existing regulations and requirements set for the child care providers. There are requirements needed to be secured by the child care providers to be able to acquire a license to operate legally. In addition, upon getting a license, the state regulates these providers to ensure that they are within the standards for safety, and other important parameters. Failure to comply with the requirements and regulating guidelines will mean cancellation of license or inability to have one.
APPLICATION FOR A LICENSE
Individuals, association, corporation, and others can start managing and operating a child care center in South Dakota only upon obtaining a license from South Dakota Department of Social Services, Division of Child Care Services.
There are no stringent restrictions when it comes to age, color, affiliations, religion, and others, for the applicant for a license. Also, whatever your marital status, sexual orientation, and national origin are, you can apply for a license. For day care centers, program description and statement of purpose must be submitted to the department. The following information must also be declared:
- capacity of the center to be operated
- age levels of the target child care recipients
- services that are to be rendered
- other needs of children to be catered
In addition to these, the information on statistical or fiscal matters of the applicant must be available to the department.
The state has separate guidelines for day care centers and group family day care homes. They are different in terms of the place where care is provided and number of children. In a day care center, usually greater than or equal to 21 children are taken care of for a certain portion of the day in a day care center facility. This child care serves as a supplemental tool to parental child care/ Group day care homes, on the other hand, is done in the home of the provider. About 13 up to 20 children can be accommodated
QUALIFICATIONS OF CHLD CARE PROGRAM ADMINISTRATORS
The following guidelines must be noted by those who are planning to manage or start a child care provider program, applying to proprietors, executive directors and assistant directors.
- Must be of age at least 18 years.
- Absence of child abuse and/or neglect record.
- Payment of arrearages or fines concerning child support, and clarification regarding repayment of such fees from the Office of Child Support Enforcement
- Must be emotionally stable and of good reputation.
- Should be highly capable for his or her task, specifically to be able to attend to the different aspects of the child like development and growth, and emotional, cognitive, physical, and social needs.
Meanwhile, the head that will be spearheading the planning of the child car e program must have one of the following qualifications stated below, aside from the similar age requirement and criminal records clearance.
- A bachelor’s degree related to the field of human development or education.
- A bachelor’s degree in primary or elementary education.
- A bachelor’s degree on primary or elementary education. This applies only to child care center handling school-aged children.
- A bachelor’s degree on education, particularly on early childhood
- A degree like associate of arts in early childhood development
- Minimum of two years experience regarding child care. This also applies to centers taking care of children of preschool age
- A certified associate in child development
- An endorsement as a teacher in pre-kindergarten
- A certification stating completion of a training program for Montessori teachers, and experience of at least one year in a school of the said type of education.
- A diploma as a technician of child development
STAFF TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Aside from the age requirement that is similar to that of the other child care personnel earlier mentioned, other child care workers qualifications will be enumerated. One of the most important requirements for staff is that they should have undergone proper training and development program. These trainings should be done especially in the said period, tackling on the following qualifications for the staff:
- Staff must have the ability to execute first aid, which should be at least basic.
- Knowledge and practical skills in child development and child growth
- Awareness on proper learning environment for children
- Must be able to manage child behavior and must be familiar in child guidance
- Good inter-personal communication, particularly with staff
- Awareness on child abuse and on the prevention of such.
- Know how to practice proper food handling.
- Communicable diseases prevention and identification
- Openness to the diversity of culture.
- Safety and health observance.
- Proper nutrition, particularly for children.
- Knowledge on the appropriateness of activities to the children.
- Practicing professionalism at all times.
- Parent involvement and cooperation encouragement.
- Equality among all children under care
- Familiarity on regulations and management guidelines in the child care program
Trainings have to be undergone relating for staff development and for a more effective operation of the child care center, even after the first year of a child care staff. These do not include instructions given to staff while they are doing their duty. Staff members’ supervision by the day care program supervisor is not considerable as training. Training hours needed for a staff must be proportional to the number of hours he or she renders.
To make sure that the day care center will be able to properly execute first aid when emergency occurs, there is a requirement regarding the first aid training of all the staff members. The state emphasizes that there must be at least a certified personnel in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Minimum of an hour class instruction on first aid is needed before the issuance of initial license. At all times, particularly after the first year of work, a staff of the child care program must maintain the validity of his or her infant-child CPR certification. The said certification is given by any related entity like the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
Child cardio-pulmonary resuscitation-trained staff of the child care facility is expected to be visible on operating hours of the facility. At least one staff needs to be prepared for emergency that may happen. He or she must also be able to administer first aid.
TEACHER OR STAFF-TO-CHILD RATIO
There are different staff-to-child ratio requirement set depending on the age of children under the child care program. The requirement is also different for day care center and group family day care.
For day care centers and group family day care homes, the guidelines are listed below. Any fraction adhering to these ratios indicated are allowed. Staff-to-child ratio does not include the staff that is not doing care-giving like janitors, secretaries, and cooks.
- One child care staff needed for every five (5) children of ages three and below. This category includes infants, as well as toddlers.
- One staff for every ten (10) children, three to six years old. This category includes pre-school children.
- One staff for every fifteen (15) children of ages six and above. This category includes school-age children.
In case there are several age groups in the center, the guideline on the ratio for the majority of the children belonging to the same age group will be followed. This does not apply when there are children below the age of three, in which the guideline on ratio for the age group below three years old will be followed. It must be noted that even though there are guidelines for ratio, day care centers must see to it that the number of children in groupings in activities must not exceed twenty (20).
Availability of staff must be checked to see to it that the children are accompanied at all times. Every fifteen minutes, there must be available adults so that there will be someone to attend to the children when emergency occur.
PERSONNEL HEALTH REQUIREMENTS
Since the child care staff members interact with the children in the program, it is highly necessary for them to be physically healthy, aside from being emotionally fit.
A major requirement for child care providers is a test for any sign or symptom of tuberculosis, specifically a Mantoux tuberculin test. This test on skin is done at the employment of a staff prior to interaction with children. The possible outcomes a staff that has undergone the test are the following: no reaction, with reaction but free of disease, and positive with tuberculosis infection. Those staff members who have no reaction to the test are exempted from succeeding tuberculin evaluations. For the staff that had the second of the mentioned outcome and has not completed Isoniazid, INH preventive course, there must be an annual check for diseases through physical evaluations to be done by a medical doctor. On the other hand, infected individuals must undergo at least six months of INH course.
Aside from the staff members, the operator of the child care provider program must comply with the health requirements of the state, as well as his or her family members who are above the age of 18 and who interact with the children in the facility. Similar test for tuberculosis infection is done, the Mantoux tuberculin test. The guidelines regarding the result of the test are also similar with that of the staff members.
Reports on the tests and evaluations undergone by the staff are to be filed properly upon collection by the department concerned.
PERSONNEL RECORDS AND REQUIREMENTS ON HIRING
Prior to hiring for work in the child care providing facility, employers must take not of some guidelines. Employers and operators of the day care center or group family day care homes must refer to the past employers of the applicant. They must check the quality of work the applicant can produce, character, and stability when it comes to emotional state. It must be noted that relatives of the applicant cannot serve as reference. Only those who have been together with the staff member in the working environment before entering the child care program should serve as references. Before hiring, written letter or documented conversation with the reference must be submitted to the operator of the child care program. Other screening requirements must be secured before hiring.
Records of staff and personnel, on the other hand, must be properly filed. Information regarding the personnel must be available and must be recorded, which includes the following:
- Name of the staff member
- Contact numbers including telephone number
- Experience and education
- Trainings and orientations attended
- Number of hours the staff member have completed
- Employment and separation dates
- A waiver with the staff member signature saying that he or she has fully understood the guidelines on program standards, discipline standards, and day care definition.
- A waiver with the staff member signature saying that he or she is responsible in reporting any case of abuse or neglect to children.
Records containing the above information are to be made available in the facility to the South Dakota Department of Social Services that will verify the contents of them. Also, retaining these records for the period of six months is required upon employment of a staff member.
It is necessary for a program to give every child under care self-esteem-boosting, good self-image-forming, communication skills, creative expression and social interaction-encouraging, intellectual growth-seeking, and physical state-improving activities. In the program schedule, it must be included the program’s plan in conducting group and individual activities, whether indoor or outdoor, and in balancing the activeness and quietness of those activities.
One-to-one staff member attention is required to be given to the children under the child care program.
The state requires all day care centers to make written guidelines or policies on the following matters:
- equipment and materials for child play, promoting creativity, language development and physical improvement of children. It must be noted that these should be non-toxic and safe.
- staff qualifications
- every day timetable of programs and activities. Aside from this, developmental level-based activities for each children group must be supplied.
- any changes in the child care program like location of the facility, staff member conviction due to breaking of the laws on child care, and changes concerning abuse or neglect to children involving a law enforcing body intervention like the Office of Child Protection Services
- child discipline, which includes the allowed and the prohibited
- plans for evacuation, and drills for events like tornado and fire
- transportation, including safety precautions like wearing of seatbelts inside the vehicle
- nutrition of children, including balanced diet description, time of serving of meals to children, the position of the day care center on bringing food from home and storage of them in the child care facility, and infant feeding
- reporting of abuse or neglect to children, whether it is only suspected, saying that it is a responsibility of everyone in the facility
- health of children, stating requirement for immunization, immunization records, reporting of communicable diseases, medicine storage, and medicine administration
- payments, fees, and refunding of such
- staff admission and termination
It is also very important for the child care program to make policies that should be written, regarding disciplinary acts for children. Straightforward limits involving positive direction and guidance should be offered by these disciplinary acts in order to facilitate a child’s respect to other person’s rights and to promote self-control. Appropriateness to the age of children and to the level of development must be observed when it comes to deciding on the disciplinary actions. Disciplinary acts should be done by a person designated for doing such and should not be administered by any children. Prohibited acts of discipline that involve humiliation and fear-instilment to children are mentioned below.
- physical acts like pinching, shaking, spanking, hitting, and other inappropriate ac
- using of materials like pepper, pepper sauce, soap, and others
- snaps, naps, and meals forcing or withholding
- punishing of children who commit toilet training mistakes
- binding or enclosing in a small space like cabinets, boxes, locked room, etc., or any movement restricting punishments
- stating of insulting words about the child’s family or self, saying of verbally abusive words, and posing threats to child
Involvement of Parents
In the child care program, parental involvement must be encouraged. In day care centers, at any moment or right after a request, the parents of the child must be allowed to see their child. Similar requirement applies to group family day care homes.
FOOD SERVICE AND NUTRITION
Nutritional content of the food served in the child care facility must be considered and be given importance. The pyramid guide consisting of different food groups must be the basis of providing meals. Minimum of one-third (1/3) of the nutritional requirement of the child must be met. Between meals, there must be snacks served that also complies with the nutritional requirement. To be able to serve meals, the child care facility should meet first the requirements for food service, also set by the South Dakota state. In the event that the center cannot serve meals due to inability to pass the requirements for food service, food can be brought from another facility outside the center as long as it was able to comply with the requirements. There must be an in-file copy of the license for food service from the Department of Health in the child day care center or group family day care home.
Children needing special feeding procedures must be attended accordingly, like infants. Infants needing bottle feeding should be held and well-attended to avoid accidents to happen. Their feeding schedule must also be followed.
Storage of food served in the child care facility, as well as the formula and snacks prepared by the parents of the child, must be on storage in accordance to the set rules and guidelines of the state regarding food storage, until disposed or consumed.
Weekly menu should be posted in which the actual food to be served daily will be indicated. The said menu, though already used in the past weeks, must not be discarded and must be kept for six months for inspection of the department.
Health requirements must be set by the child care provider, before admitting the child. This necessary to ensure that spreading of communicable diseases will be prevented.
It is required that the parents of the child submit health certifications of their child, including that from a licensed physician and his or her assistant, certified nurse, or a community health officer. Required immunizations must have been done, which is a requirement of the Department of Health. These immunizations must also be current. If ever the child is behind the immunization levels for about one month, current progress must be exhibited going to obtaining enough recommended immunization levels. Licensed physician or his or her assistant, community health officer, or certified nurse can do the recommendation. Department of Health does the auditing of immunization levels of children annually.
When a child gets sick inside the day care center or group family day care home, he or she has to be separated from other children to prevent spreading of illness. The parents also must be notified right away, as well as the Department of Health in case a communicable disease is present in the child. It is important that proper addressing of the situation be done, as instructed in the recommended procedures of the health department for communicable diseases. Necessary information must be filed, including name and contact details of the health care provider of the child.
Exemptions on immunization levels requirement are allowed for children who are not advised to do so due to certain constraints. An example of such constraint is when the immunization can endanger the health or life of the child. A statement that is written has to be made by the parents, which needs licensed physician certification. Another constraint is religious beliefs, because in some religions certain tests and immunizations do not adhere to their doctrine.
Lastly, it is important that the child care operator obtain a permission to be written by the child’s parents stating that they allow emergency medical procedures be applied to their child.
HEALTH RELATED SERVICES
Administering of medicines can be done only if the child care provider has a written permission from the parents or guardian of the child, in which dates of medication are indicated. Storage of medicines is important. They must be put back inside their respective containers with proper labeling. Improperly labeled or label-less medicines are not allowed. Medicines must also be kept out of children’s reach. Also, prescriptions are to be filed and child care staff must see to it that in the prescription the child’s name, name of the physician who prescribed the medicine, the drug use directions and expiry date of medicine must be indicated.
BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS
Building plans or renovation plans are to be submitted to the South Dakota Department of Social Services before starting on building or renovation. It must be indicated in the proposal all actions to be done, the interior specifications of all parts of the building, the use of every room, the appliances and furnishings location, and the fixture locations in bathrooms and kitchen. It is also important to declare in the proposal the outdoor and indoor space for playing.
Day care centers and group family day care homes need to comply with certain standards on environmental health, before acquiring or renewing their license. Compliance to these standards means following the set standards of the department in Chapter 67:42:11. Upon obtaining license, the Department of Health conducts annual survey on environmental health, aside from the initial survey before acquiring of license.
INDOOR AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITY SPACE
For day care centers, there is a requirement when it comes to floor area and indoor space for children. At least thirty-five square feet for indoors is required for each present child, and at least fifty square feet outdoor play space. It must be noted that measurement of floor space does not include the floor space occupied by fixed or permanent furnishings of the day care center, including bathrooms, kitchens, offices, and storage. On the other hand, if there are cribs present, half of the floor space they occupied can be included in floor space determination.
CHILD SAFETY AND FIRE SAFETY
Occurrence of disasters like fire needs to be prevented in order to prevent loss of lives and properties. This is also the reason why the state has requirements for child care provider facilities, which includes proper building and construction that complies with the set requirements of the South Dakota Department of Social Services. Aside from compliance to the requirements, the facility must be able to pass the inspection by the city authority on fire inspection, the city authority on health, and the Department of Public Safety. This is done before license issuance and the year after issuance. Every inspection, a copy of inspection results indicating that the day care center or group family day care home is compliant to the requirements for life and fire safety, are then to be given to the department for filing and for issuance of license or renewal of it.
The department requires a minimum of four fire drills every year, as well as one (1) tornado drill that are conducted during start of summer. Documentation or proof of completion of these drills has to be done by the child care provider facility.
In order for everyone to be prepared for any emergency and possible evacuation, the department requires child care provider facilities to post emergency evacuation plans. Accessible exits must be indicated, and all members of the child care staff must be aware of the location of them. They must also be aware of the procedures when certain disasters occur, like fires, floods, tornado, and other similar events.
NIGHT-TIME CHILD CARE
Day care centers and group family day care homes can operate in between seven o’clock in the evening until six o’clock in the morning. This is what is meant by night-time child care. It must be remembered that the capacity of the day care center should always be considered, even when overlapping of child care schedule occurs between day child care and night child care. This means that when there is an overlapping, the total number of children under overlap is counted.
It is important to take note of the maximum child care a child can have per twenty-four-hour period. The child should always have less than or equal to eighteen hours period of attendance by a child care staff. In addition, staff-to-child ratio has to be considered at all times, even during night.
Attending staff in night-time child care should be alert and aware to whatever needs of the children under the child care facility. If the children under supervision are sleeping, the attending child care staff should at least be around on the similar floor as the children sleeping so that he or she can cater the needs of children when they wake up.
CHILD CARE VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers in child care providing facility are needed to fill vacant positions for staff members. These positions include, teacher, workers, secondary workers, and others. They must be able to secure needed requirements in whatever position they are filling into.
REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE
Any incident of child neglect or abuse is to be reported immediately. This is one of the responsibilities of all the staff members of the child care facility, as stated in the law. Staff members have to be in compliance to SDCL 28-8A-3 and 26-8A-8. Suspected child abuse should also be reported so that the child care provider administrators, executive director, designees or operators will be able to monitor or investigate on the case. These individuals must then report all incident related to child neglect or abuse to the authority, like the South Dakota Department of Social Services, the police, state lawyers, or others. More importantly, the child care provider facility must be in full cooperation on the proceedings and investigations on the criminal incident.
SUSPECTED ABUSE HANDLING
Handling of child abuse suspected cases, particularly in-house ones, is highly sensitive and must be attended carefully. Written procedures for doing this must be available in the child care facility. Handling procedure must include one of the following parameters:
- Evaluation whether the child care staff involved in the incident will be allowed to continue or be terminated from his or her duty in the facility.
- Practices to ensure that there will be no recurrence of the suspected incidence, while processing and waiting for the authorities’ investigation. The department of law enforcement handles the investigation.
PERSONAL ITEM STORAGE
Since one of spreading of communicable diseases is through the use of other person’s personal belongings, mix-up of articles has to be prevented. The child care facility must be able to provide individual lockers or containers for each child’s articles like clothing, towels, combs, and brushes. Cross-contamination will be minimized by this guideline and diseases are most likely to be prevented.
State Licensing Contact
South Dakota Department of Social Services
Division of Child Care Services
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: (605) 773-4766
Toll Free: (800) 227-3020
Fax: (605) 773-7294