Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 10: Licensing and Community Action

10.4 Facility Licensing

10.4.2 Facility Inspections and Monitoring Frequency of Inspections for Child Care Centers, Large Family Child Care Homes, and Small Family Child Care Homes

The licensing inspector should make an onsite inspection to measure compliance with licensing rules prior to issuing an initial license and at least two inspections each year to each center and large and small family child care home thereafter. At least one of the inspections should be unannounced and more if needed for the facility to achieve satisfactory compliance or is closed at any time (1). Sufficient numbers of licensing inspectors should be hired to provide adequate time visiting and inspecting facilities to insure compliance with regulations

The number of inspections should not include those inspections conducted for the purpose of investigating complaints. Complaints should be investigated promptly, based on severity of the complaint. States are encouraged to post the results of licensing inspections, including complaints, on the Internet for parent and public review. Parents/guardians should be provided easy access to the licensing rules and made aware of how to report complaints to the licensing agency. 

Licensing inspections are important to assist facilities to achieve and maintain full compliance with licensing rules. Supervision and monitoring of child care facilities are critical to facilitate continued compliance with the rules in order to prevent or correct problems before they become serious (2). Technical assistance and consultation provided by licensing inspectors on an on-going basis are essential to help programs achieve compliance with the rules and go beyond the basic level of quality. These positive strategies are most effective when they are coupled with the non-regulatory methods used by other parts of the early care and education community to promote quality (such as professional development, quality and improvement rating systems, accreditation, peer support, and consumer education) (3). All of these methods are most effective when they work together within a coordinated early care and education system. Research has demonstrated that posting of licensing information on the Internet has a positive effect on compliance with licensing rules (3).
  1. National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA). 2010. Strong licensing: The foundation for a quality early care and education system: NARA’s call to action.
  2. National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA). 1999. Licensing workload assessment. Technical assistance bulletin #99-01. Lexington, KY: NARA. 
  3. Witte, A. D., M. Queralt. 2004. What happens when child care inspections and complaints are made available on the internet? Faculty Working Paper 10227, Wellesley College Department of Economics and National Bureau of Economic Research, Wellesley Child Care Research Partnership.