NAFCC accreditation logo

The Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation and the accreditation process were developed through a consensus building process that included hundreds of educators, parents, resource and referral staff members, and many other early childhood experts.

NAFCC would like to thank all contributors for their hard work and dedication to the field of family child care.

The standards are divided into the following content areas:


The most important aspect of a high-quality family child care program is its human relationships. FCC educators set the emotional climate of the program. Good quality relations with the children and their families form the foundation of support needed for great experiences. Children thrive when they feel nurtured, appreciated, and have a sense of belonging to a group that is part of a community. All kinds of development are supported in the context of warm, responsive human relationships.

The Educator with Children

The Educator with Children

1.1 *The educator demonstrates interest in, respects, and is committed to helping each child develop to their full potential.
1.2 The educator is responsive to the needs of children.
1.3 The educator respects children’s individual needs for comfort to ensure that their well-being.
1.4 The educator holds or carries infants depending on their individual preferences as shown by expressions of discomfort, such as crying or fussing, expression of well-being, such as smiling and cooing, as well as their body language of settling in or pulling away.
1.5 *The educator is sincere and comfortable with children, as indicated by laughing with the children, smiling often, and listening during conversations.
1.6 *The educator enjoys being around children, as indicated by body language and verbal interactions.
1.7 *The educator observes and documents children’s abilities and behavior, including verbal, non-verbal, and body language. Examples of acceptable documentation include written, electronic, photo and video.
1.8 *The educator uses documentation to coordinate and adapt activities, routines, and interactions to meet the individual child’s needs.
1.9 The educator seeks information about each family’s cultural traditions.
1.10 The educator demonstrates interest in and respects each family’s cultural traditions when communicating with children and families.
1.11 The educator shows positive attitudes toward adapting to individual children’s needs, such as bottle weaning, diapering, toilet learning, and positive guidance techniques.
1.12 The educator recognizes signs of stress in children’s behavior.
1.13 The educator responds to children’s signs of stress with appropriate stress-reducing activities.
1.14 *The educator or anyone who comes in contact with children in the family child care home never uses any form of physical punishment or physical roughness.
1.15 *The educator or anyone who comes in contact with children in the family child care home never uses any form of verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse. Verbal abuse consists of yelling, bullying, criticizing, shaming, teasing hurtfully, and/or threatening.
The Educator with Parent and Families

The Educator with Parent and Families
Trust and Respect

1.16 *The educator encourages families to visit whenever their children are in the familychild care home.
1.17 *The educator is available to communicate with parents when children are present or regularly checks and responds to messages from family members. Communication may be via text, email, phone, or in person.
1.18 The educator respects diverse family structures and recognizes the strengths of each family.
1.19 The educator is attentive to parents’ specific requests, preferences, and values.

Communication and Involvement

1.20 The educator informs families daily about how their children spend time in care.
1.21 In addition to ongoing conversations about children’s progress, the educator schedules conferences with each child’s family at least twice yearly.
1.22 The educator and family review the child’s developmental progress and needs.
1.23 The educator, with family input, sets developmental goals for the child.
1.24 The educator shares concerns with families when they arise, and together, they develop a mutually agreed upon plan.
1.25 The educator encourages breastfeeding and offers a place for on-site breastfeeding.
1.26 The on-site breastfeeding area should be private with an outlet and seating.

The Children with Each Other

1.27 The educator helps children develop friendships by recognizing and demonstrating positive ways for the children to interact with each other.
1.28 The educator supports children in identifying and describing their own feelings and the feelings of others.
1.29 The educator encourages children to help and support each other.
1.30 The educator ensures children are engaged in play, activities, or conversations witheach other throughout the day.
1.31 The educator ensures the family child care home reflects a positive social andemotional environment built on caring and responsive relationships.
Other Relationships

Other Relationships
Family and Community Engagement

1.34 The educator plans occasional activities that promote family connection and engagement that align with the families’ interests, culture, and time availability.
1.35 The educator has a supportive social network, including family and other educators.
1.36 The educator participates in local/state/national family child care associations, community events and/or organizations.
1.37 If the educator does not speak or write in the family’s language, the educator finds an effective way to communicate with the family. Examples of effective communication include an interpreter, translation device, or written communication.
1.38 The educator and family work together on positive guidance, eating, toileting while considering developmentally appropriate approaches and the child’s best interests.

The Environment

The next important aspect of quality in family child care is the environment. The educator’s home is welcoming and comfortable, with enough materials and equipment to engage children’s interest in a variety of ways, supporting their activities across all the domains of development.

Home Environment

Home Environment

2.1 The areas of the home used for the purpose of family child care are welcoming and friendly and reflect the children and families who attend, those who live in the surrounding community, and the diversity of children and families in the world.
2.2 If the home is used as a private residence and for a family child care program, activities of others living in the home do not occur in the area designated for child care during hours of operation.
2.3 If the home is not used as a private residence, most areas are specifically designated for the family child care program.
2.4 *The family child care home is well organized and arranged so children can access only appropriate materials for their age group.’
2.5 *The arrangement of the family child care home and use of space are flexible to meet the needs of each child (for example, quiet, noisy, and private areas), the family child care program, and the educator’s family and home demands.
2.6 The family child care home has adequate heating, ventilation, and a room temperature between 68-90°F. If the temperature is over 90°F, air conditioning or safe fans are used. Portable heating, air conditioning, and fans are out of the reach of children.
2.7 The educator maintains equipment according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
2.8 The family child care home’s areas where children read, make art, or play with manipulatives have adequate light for children and adults to see and accomplish the different tasks in each area.
2.9 There are areas in the family child care home with soft or, preferably, natural light.
2.10 The family child care home is free from the smell of toxic and other harmful substances, including urine, feces, garbage, pets, tobacco smoke, and mildew.
2.11 The family child care home is aesthetically pleasing without overstimulating children through colors, lighting, music, or acoustics creating echoes.
2.12 The family child care home is free of background noise, such as music, radio, and electronic games, at least half of the time.
2.13 The family child care home has enough indoor space used to allow for approximately35 square feet of usable space per child so that children move freely and safely when engaged in active play. If there is no space for outdoor activities, more usable floorspace should be made available.
2.14 The family child care home’s outdoor play area has open space for active movement, some play equipment and materials, and places for open-ended explorations.
2.15 The educator selects outdoor play areas free from environmental hazards such as unhealthy air quality, unsafe drinking water, and loud noises.
2.16 The educator ensures the family child care home includes soft and developmentally appropriate furnishings and cozy, quiet spaces for children to use out of the way of busy traffic patterns.
2.17 The educator ensures there is adequate space for storing each child’s personal belongings without touching another’s.
2.18 Spaces for storing children’s personal belongings are labeled with the minimum of the child’s name and photo.
2.19 The educator ensures the family child care home has space for infants to crawl, stand, and explore safely and freely. Sturdy, low furniture is available for those who are learning to walk.
2.20 The educator ensures the family child care home is organized to meet each child’s individual needs. For example:

    • Infants can experience floor time without being exposed to small objects that are not developmentally appropriate.
    • Toddlers and Preschoolers have enough space to move about freely without being a safety risk to Infants.
    • Preschoolers have a space to play with small manipulatives that is out of reach of infants and toddlers.
    • School-age children have a quiet space to do homework.
    • Children who require the use of a wheelchair or other means of support have sufficient space to move around.


Equipment and Materials

Equipment and Materials

2.21 The educator accommodates children’s individual needs by modifying equipment and materials.
2.22 The educator models and teaches respect for materials, equipment and the environment.
2.23 The educator provides multiple toys and materials, home-made or purchased, to engage all children in developmentally appropriate ways.
2.23 The educator monitors all play and assists children in setting appropriate boundaries to ensure appropriate levels of safety.
2.25 The educator discourages play in the family child care home that is intended to harm others.
2.26 The educator does not offer children materials and toys designed for harm (for example, toy guns) for play.
2.27 Media or materials that depict violence, are sexually explicit, perpetuate stereotypes, or are otherwise inappropriate are prohibited in the family child care home.
2.28 The educator rotates materials in and out to stimulate children’s interest and development.
2.29 The educator ensures toys and materials do not present stereotypes of races, cultures, ages, ability, or gender roles but demonstrate diversity in a positive way.
2.30 The educator does not demonstrate prejudiced behavior against others.
2.31 Appreciation of diversity is a part of learning activities, toys, and materials.
2.32 Books are displayed and in good condition. This means they are clean, do not have tears, are not missing pages, and do not have stains.
2.33 The educator uses only non-toxic art supplies approved by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI).
2.34 The educator only uses food for art projects when the ingredients and project will be eaten.

(See Accreditation Materials Inventory Checklist in Appendix)

Art, Math Science, Dramatic Play and Real Tools

Art, Math Science, Dramatic Play and Real Tools

2.35 The educator provides developmentally appropriate art materials to children aged 12 months and older. Infants younger than 12 months are exposed to art materials and activities with adult support and supervision.
2.36 The educator provides developmentally appropriate math materials to children aged 12 months and older. Infants younger than 12 months are exposed to math materials and activities with adult support and supervision.
2.37 The educator provides developmentally appropriate science materials to children aged 12 months and older. Infants younger than 12 months are exposed to science materials and activities with adult support and supervision.
2.38 The educator provides developmentally appropriate dramatic play materials to children aged 12 months and older. Infants younger than 12 months are exposed to dramatic play materials and activities with adult support and supervision.

Developmental Learning Activities

Children’s spontaneous play is ideally suited to helping them practice their developing skills and gain understanding of their world. As the educator observes their activities and interests, the educator supports and extends their play and offers new activities and materials to build upon their learning.

The early years are a prime time for children’s development. Most basic, is learning to get along well with others and to feel secure in one’s own identity. From infancy through the school years, children are capable of learning and building competency across a wide range of areas. These include physical development, cognition and language, social and self- development, and creative development. A high-quality educator has individualized goals for each child as well as goals for the group as a whole. The educator plans activities and builds on spontaneous opportunities to support these learning goals.

Child-Directed Activities

Child-Directed Activities

3.1 *The educator offers children opportunities to make choices and explore their interests with the materials provided.
3.2 *The educator allows children to choose their own free play for at least one hour in the morning and at least one hour in the afternoon.
3.3 *The educator offers opportunities for child-directed free play outdoors when the weather permits.
3.4 Children are engaged in learning experiences during routine times throughout the day.
3.5 The educator minimizes transition and waiting times by attending to children’s needs in a flexible manner and preparing the following activity ahead of time.
The Educator's Activities

The Educator’s Activities

3.6 The educator supports children’s self-directed play by offering learning experiences and materials that are appropriate and develop their abilities and interests.
3.7 The educator supports children’s self-directed play without interrupting or taking over their play.
3.8 The educator uses a developmentally appropriate child needs assessment to gather and document information about each child’s interests, behavior, development, and learning progress.
3.9 The educator analyzes the results from a developmentally appropriate child needs assessment and sets goals that support each child’s development.
3.10 The educator plans learning experiences that build on the needs and interests of the children, being flexible in adapting the plans.
3.11 The educator conducts at least one annual developmental screening of each child to support early intervention.
3.12 The educator ensures a formal plan is created if the child is professionally diagnosed with health-related issues and/or developmental delays (for example, Individualized Family Service Plan [IFSP]).
3.13 The educator follows the prescribed plan (for example, IFSP) and assists with services and activities that support learning.
3.14 The educator seeks information about each family’s cultural traditions and demonstrates sensitivity when incorporating this information during curriculum planning and other learning activities.
3.15 The educator ensures most of the children’s learning experiences promote many kinds of development simultaneously; the curriculum is integrated and holistic rather than focusing on one area of development at a time. For example, a play dough activity includes art, math, science, self, social, and language development.
3.16 The educator ensures children can pursue special interests or hobbies, working on projects that may evolve over days or weeks.
3.17 The educator offers opportunities to practice and explore new skills in various developmental areas (for example, motor skills, approaches to play and learning, communication, language, and literacy).
3.18 The educator offers scaffolding support so children feel comfortable trying new activities in a range of learning experiences.
3.19 When appropriate, the educator develops children’s learning by describing their actions and asking open-ended questions.
3.20 The educator helps children engage in activities by breaking complex tasks into simple ones.
3.21 The educator helps children engage in activities by increasing the difficulty of activities by combining familiar materials in innovative ways and contexts.
3.22 The educator finds opportunities to support children in learning specific skills and concepts when they show interest in learning them.
3.23 The educator takes advantage of and builds upon natural learning experiences and “teachable moments” associated with daily life in a home.
3.24 The educator supports children’s play without dominating it by simply observing, offering materials, joining in, or making gentle suggestions as needed.
3.25 The educator plays interactive games with children (for example, imitating infants’ sounds, peek-a-boo, call-and-response rhymes, Simon Says, and card or board games).
3.26 The educator encourages but does not force children into activities except for necessary routines and transitions (for example, children can move in and out of an activity, stand and watch, or choose not to participate at all).
3.27 The educator allows or sets up alternative activities for children not interested in group play.
3.28 The educator is physically active enough to keep up with the children.
3.29 The educator or an assistant educator can lift infants and toddlers.
Schedules and Routines

Schedules and Routines

3.30 The educator maintains a consistent yet flexible sequence of daily events and learning experiences, adapted to meet each child’s individual needs and the changing group.
3.31 The educator ensures learning experiences and transitions are smooth and unhurried.
3.32 The children usually finish activities at their own pace.
3.33 The children appear to know their routine/schedule.
3.34 *The educator greets children and families warmly every day.
3.35 *Upon arrival, based on the child’s needs, the educator helps the child engage in what is happening or provides a quiet place until the child is ready to be engaged.
3.36 The educator helps children and families cope with separation, for example, at drop- off and pick-up times.
3.37 The educator takes the children outdoors (when neighborhood conditions are safe) at least one time during the day, for at least 60 minutes each time, weather permitting (i.e., no active precipitation, extreme weather conditions, or advisory warnings that may affect the health or safety of the children).
3.38 The educator ensures children dress appropriately for outdoor play during various temperatures and conditions.
3.39 The educator ensures rest time is appropriate, relaxing, and comfortable to meet children’s individual needs. Non-sleepers can have books and quiet toys during rest time.
3.40 The educator allows children to nap when they are sleepy. If needed, the educator helps children fall asleep (for example, rocking, patting, and/or soft music).
3.41 The educator talks to the children throughout the day during transitions and routines about what is happening at the moment.
3.42 For children who wear diapers (disposable or cloth), the educator does a visual check at least once every 2 hours and changes the children if they are wet or soiled.
3.43 For children who wear underwear (disposable or cloth) and are new to using the toilet, the educator does a visual check at least once every 2 hours and changes the children if wet or soiled.
3.44 For children who wear underwear and regularly use the toilet, the educator reminds the children to go to the toilet once every 2 hours.
3.45 If a child is learning to use the toilet, the family and the educator agree on toilet learning approaches based on each child’s developmental readiness, not on age. The process is respectful and free from embarrassment, punishment, or power struggles.
3.46 The educator models a positive attitude about cleaning up and encourages children to clean up after themselves as they are able.
3.47 The educator provides school-age children with an age-appropriate, comfortable space and time that meets their needs to relax.
Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline

3.48 *The educator provides positive and appropriate guidance for each child’s developmental abilities.
3.49 *The educator guides children to gain self-control and accept responsibility for their own behavior.
3.50 The educator ensures expectations are appropriate and clearly explained to children in a positive, developmentally appropriate way.
3.51 The educator minimizes toddlers’ frustrations (for example, through redirection).
3.52 As opportunities arise, the educator allows children to experience the natural consequences of their own negative behavior in a safe, non-threatening manner.
3.53 The educator provides children opportunities to experience responsibility as leaders and helpers within the group.
3.54 The educator provides children with opportunities to self-regulate their behavior in a safe and quiet place until they are ready to return to the group. Time-outs are not used.
Social and Self Development

Social and Self-Development

3.55 The educator helps children gain awareness of other people’s feelings and understand how their own actions affect others.
3.56 The educator supports children in resolving conflicts and disagreements (for example, assists children in communicating their feelings and finding solutions).
3.57 The educator helps children learn to respect the possessions, personal space, and activities of others.

Belonging to a Group

5.58 The educator encourages children to work together for a common purpose (for example, working on projects and playing games together).
5.59 The educator provides opportunities for children to learn about taking turns, sharing, and working together.
5.60 The educator provides children opportunities to help safely prepare food, set the table, or clean up after meals.
5.61 The educator helps children know neighborhood helpers (for example, mail carrier, health professionals, firefighters, and police officer) by meeting them or through pictures, books, videos, or play experiences.

Respecting Differences

3.62 The educator helps children understand and respect people who are different from themselves.
3.63 The educator responds factually to children’s curiosity about similarities and differences among people.
3.64 The educator ensures children and their families are treated fairly.
3.65 The educator ensures children and their families of all identities have equal opportunities to participate in all activities and use all materials.
3.66 The educator helps children notice incidents of bias.
3.67 The educator helps children learn effective ways to stand up for each other and themselves in the face of teasing, bullying, or other forms of discrimination.
3.68 The educator introduces cultural activities based each child’s and their family’s authentic experiences.

Self-Esteem and Self-Awareness

3.69 The educator supports children in their growing self-awareness and self-acceptance.
3.70 The educator verbally acknowledges and recognizes each child’s accomplishments and efforts using specific rather than generalized language.
3.71 The educator accepts children’s emotional needs and balances their demands for both independence and dependence.
3.72 The educator practices and teaches acceptance and demonstrates inclusion in the family child care home.
3.73 The educator does not criticize, tease, bully, or allow criticizing, teasing, or bullying to take place.
3.74 The educator helps children take responsibility for themselves and their belongings, building self-help skills when they are ready.

Physical Development

3.75 *The educator ensures children are engaged in large motor activities for at least 60 minutes each half day. These activities may occur at one time or may be accumulated during each half day.
3.76 *The educator supervises non-crawling infants when they are awake and alert. Tummy time is progressive and involves gradually increasing the time until the infant gains head and neck control and can roll over independently.
3.77 *The educator provides children with daily opportunities for developmentally appropriate small-motor activities (for example, grasping, scribbling, cutting with scissors, buttoning, tying shoes, using art materials, or playing with manipulatives).
3.78 The educator ensures children, especially infants and toddlers, have developmentally appropriate large-motor daily activities.
Cognition and Language

Cognition and Language
Cognitive Development

3.79 The educator facilitates activities and guides children’s understanding and learning experiences through various methods (for example, interactions with others, audio, visual, hands-on exploration, books, music, and movement).
3.80 The educator encourages children to develop their understanding of objects, events, and people by providing various activities (for example, pretend play, art materials, and songs involving imitation).
3.81 The educator actively interacts with children during these activities to help develop their understanding.
3.82 The educator introduces time concepts through consistent routines.
3.83 The educator helps children age 2 and older recall past experiences and plan future events.
3.84 The educator implements strategies so that children can think for themselves, solve problems independently and with others, and gain confidence in their ability to find solutions.

Language and Communication

3.85 The educator listens with interest and respect and encourages children to express their thoughts and feelings.
3.86 *The educator takes time every day for meaningful conversation with each child (for example, the educator takes an interest in and responds in a soothing tone to infants’ vocalizations and imitates their sounds).
3.87 The educator encourages children to listen to and respond to each other.
3.88 The educator adapts communication, especially their vocabulary, to meet the needs and understanding of each child.
3.89 The educator learns and uses keywords or songs in the child’s home language when the child’s home language differs from theirs.


3.90 *The educator reads to each child individually or as a group for up to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.
3.91 *The educator uses books to stimulate conversation that expands children’s interests and imagination, build vocabulary, or introduce new ideas and information.
3.92 *The educator allows reading time for infants and toddlers to occur in brief moments and consists of showing and talking about the book’s pictures, colors, and textures.
3.93 *The educator provides children who can read independently literacy opportunities in both teacher-directed and free play (for example, reading, writing, listening to stories, or performing plays).
3.94 *The educator does not force children of any age to sit during reading.
3.95 *The educator ensures children of all ages have access to age-appropriate books daily.
3.96 *The educator encourages children to look at or read books independently.
3.97 *The educator teaches children to take care of books.
3.98 The educator builds on children’s emerging interest in print and writing according to each child’s developmental level (for example scribbling, recognizing signs and alphabet letters and their sounds, writing names,

Math and Science

3.99 The educator ensures children learn math and science concepts in the context of everyday activities (for example, setting the table, preparing food, sorting the mail, cooking, gardening, and playing games).
3.100 The educator ensures children learn to match, sort, arrange things in sequence, count things, measure, and recognize and create patterns.
3.101 The educator provides children with opportunities (indoors and outdoors) to explore the natural and physical environment (for example, watching insects, planting seeds and caring for plants, playing with water and sand, and playing with cars or balls and ramps, and creating buildings or other infrastructures).
3.102 The educator encourages children to observe and make predictions about things in the learning environment using language, hands on activities, analysis, reasoning, problem solving, and experimenting by asking “who, what when, where, why, how and what if” questions.

Creative Development

3.103 The educator encourages children’s creativity by offering a variety of daily opportunities for children to explore and use their imagination.


3.104 The educator sets out inviting art materials based on the children’s developmental levels.
Children aged 3 and older have direct access to basic art materials during free play opportunities.
3.105 Children under the age of 3 have access to basic art materials during free play opportunities with supervision.
3.106 The educator ensures most art activities allow the children to decide what they will create and how they will create it.
3.107 The educator comments on specific aspects of children’s art, focusing on the children’s exploration and use of the materials and descriptions of their work. The educator is careful in the use of language during praise, encouragement, or affirmation, and does not show preference for work that looks more realistic or pretty.
3.108 The educator comments on specific aspects of children’s art, focusing on the children’s exploration and use of the materials and descriptions of their work. The educator is careful in the use of language during praise, encouragement, or affirmation, and does not show preference for work that looks more realistic or pretty.
3.109 The educator values all children’s work and helps parents appreciate children’s creative art, games, and books.
3.110 The educator displays some work is displayed throughout the learning environment(for example, on the refrigerator, wall hangings and mobiles, photo albums, scrapbooks, or portfolios) including spaces where children and parents have access.

Music, Movement, and Dramatic Play

3.111 The educator uses music in a variety of ways (for example, singing, finger plays, clapping games, playing instruments, and listening to a variety of recorded music).
3.112 The educator provides children with opportunities to participate in music making activities, using their own voices or with purchased or home-made instruments.
3.113 The educator encourages children to dance or use movement as a method of self-expression, to recreate meaningful experiences, tell stories, or act out concepts.
3.114 The educator offers daily opportunities for children’s pretend play and facilitates
children’s creativity throughout the day.

Television and Computers

3.115 The educator ensures the screen media is appropriate for the ages of the children using or viewing the source (for example, content is free from violent, sexually explicit, stereotyped content, and advertising).
3.116 The educator ensures children’s use of screen media, including computers, is limited to no more than 30 minutes per day, and for educational use or physical activities. Engaging alternative activities are offered to all children when screen media is offered.
3.117 The educator ensures children under the age of 24 months do not participate in screen time except for video chatting with a family member.
3.118 The educator supervises each child’s use of technology and limits technology time to no more than 30 minutes at a time or until over-stimulated. When school-age children are engaged in an educational project or if children require the use of assistive technology, computer time may be extended.
3.119 The educator supervises all children’s computer use and ensures it is developmentally appropriate, promotes positive learning experiences, and requires children’s active involvement, group participation, creativity, or fun.
3.120 The educator actively monitors children’s internet use on various devices (for example, computers, tablets, smartphones, and television).

Safety and Health

Children’s physical well-being is assured through careful supervision, preparation for emergencies, minimizing the spread of disease, and serving of nutritious food.



4.1 *The educator or assistant educator always keeps children under the age of 3 in their line of sight, including when falling asleep, sleeping, and waking up, except when the educator or assistant educator attends to personal needs for up to 5 minutes. The educator or assistant educator assures the safety of all children while attending to their personal needs.
4.2 *The educator remains close by and listens carefully when children aged 3 and older are out of sight for short periods.
4.3 *The educator ensures children under the age of 6 are never inside or outside by themselves. Specifically, when children are inside, the educator is inside, and when children are outside, the educator is outside.
4.4 *The educator listens to children when they are sleeping. Monitors are permitted.
4.5 *The educator visually checks on infants under the age of 8 months every 15 minutes.Visual monitors are not permitted as a substitute for a visual check.
4.6 *The educator’s own children may sleep in their own bed regardless of age.
4.7 *The educator only allows the children to participate in high-risk activities that could be potentially dangerous based on the children’s developmental readiness and the educator’s own ability to supervise the children/activity. Examples of high-risk activities include swimming, water play, woodworking, cooking, and field trips.
4.8 *The educator only allows and supervises high-risk activities when all children present are developmentally able to participate.
4.9 The educator does not leave children in equipment that restrains their movement for more than 20 minutes at a time and no more than half their time in care, except when eating or sleeping. Examples of equipment include cribs, playpens, swings, baby seats, high chairs, and exercisers. Back and front packs are excluded.
4.10 The educator uses a comprehensive, written plan describing how children will be kept safe and supervised during outings (for example, during transportation, walking, or field trips).
4.11 A qualified assistant educator is present when there are more than 6 children in care; there should not be more than 12 children in care at any one time.
4.12 When there are 6 or fewer children present, the educator ensures no more than 2 are under the age of 2 years. When there are 7 or more children present, the educator ensures no more than 4 are under the age of 2 years.

Checklist for Outings

4.13 The educator brings the following items during scheduled outings:

  • a first-aid kit;
  • emergency contact information for all children and adults;
  • coins for a pay phone, calling card number, or cellular phone;
  • note paper and pen;
  • items that meet children’s basic health and personal care, such as medications, food or snacks, and toileting necessities;
  • individual care plans and medications;
  • any additional items to ensure the safety and well-being of the adults and children present.
4.14 For outings, the educator ensures each child carries the educator’s name and telephone number and the child’s own name, where it is not visible, in case they become separated from the educator.
4.15 *If children are transported in the educator’s vehicle, the educator ensures:

  • All passengers and the driver always use seatbelts.
  • All vehicle restraint systems used meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Section 571.213.
  • All vehicle restraint systems used, including car seats, booster seats, and seat belts, are approved for the height and weight of the child using them and have been properly installed and fitted according to the instructions of both the vehicle and the restraint system manufacturers.
  • Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children under the age of 12 do not sit in the front seat.
  • Children are never left unattended in a vehicle.

Emergency Preparation

4.16 *The educator keeps a first-aid kit readily accessible but out of reach of children. The first-aid kit includes:

  • First-aid instructions
  • Disposable non-porous gloves
  • Soap and water
  • Tweezers
  • Bandage tape Sterile gauze Scissors
  • A thermometer, infant-safe if infants are enrolled (may be kept separately from first aid kit)
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Cold pack
  • CPR mouthguard
4.17 The educator conspicuously posts the following information near a working telephone:

  • Address and phone number of the family child care home;
  • Emergency contact information for the educator;
  • Child abuse and neglect reporting hotline;
  • Emergency contact information for at least three individuals per child; and
  • Phone numbers for an ambulance, police, fire department, poison control, a nurse, doctor, or another medical consultant, and an emergency substitute educator.
4.18 The educator helps children, as they are able, learn their full names, addresses, phone numbers, and how to dial 911 using equipment that is available, accessible, and familiar to them.
4.19 The educator identifies an area for children to go to if they become separated from the group and people to talk to if they need help.
4.20 *If the educator’s primary language is not English, the educator can communicate basic emergency information in English and understand English instructions printed on children’s medication.

Fire Prevention

4.21 *The educator ensures flammable materials, including matches and lighters or any other combustible substances, are kept in a locked cabinet and out of children’s reach.
4.22 *The educator ensures flammable materials are not stored in areas used for child care.

Injury Prevention

4.23 *The educator ensures that all indoor and outdoor equipment and materials meet the following criteria

  • Are safe for the ages and abilities of the children who use them and are in good repair.
  • Do not have sharp points, rough edges, peeling paint, or missing parts.
  • Do not have openings that could entrap a child’s head.
  • Do not have small parts that may become detached during normal use.
  • Do not present foreseeable abuse of the equipment and do not present a choking, aspiration, or ingestion hazard to a child.
4.24 The educator ensures children using high chairs or boosters have a wide base or are securely attached to a table or another chair.
4.25 The educator ensures the chair has a T-shaped restraint/harness that is fastened every time it is used unless the child is able to get in and out of the seat independently.
4.24 The educator ensures the seat is used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for age and weight.
4.25 The educator ensures the chair has a T-shaped restraint/harness that is fastened every time it is used unless the child is able to get in and out of the seat independently.
4.26 The educator ensures the seat is used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for age and weight.
4.27 *The educator ensures heavy furniture, climbing equipment, swings, and slides are stable or securely anchored in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
4.28 The educator ensures shock-absorbing materials are placed under all climbers, swings, and slides over 36 inches high, both indoors and outdoors, according to the specifications listed in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook.
4.29 *The educator ensures there are no movable infant walkers or saucers.
4.30 The educator ensures helmets are fitted to each individual child and are always worn when riding bicycles, skateboards, and scooters or when using in-line or roller skates.
4.31 *The educator ensures all toy chests have safety hinges and air holes or there is no lid.
4.32 The educator uses an effective system to check for new safety hazards indoors and outdoors.
4.33 The educator conducts monthly emergency drills for fire, natural disasters, threatening persons and animals, and the educator keeps a log that includes the type of drill, date, and time practiced.
4.34 The educator ensures children under age 6 do not wear necklaces (unless the necklace can be easily broken), pacifiers on a cord around the neck, or clothing with draw strings around the neck.
4.35 The educator ensures there are no toys or other items, such as window blinds with cords, strings, or straps long enough to wrap around the neck (over 12 inches long).
4.36 The educator ensures there are no latex balloons within reach of children under the age of 8 in the family child care home.
4.37 *The educator ensures any working fireplace, wood stove, or space heater is safely screened and inaccessible to children when in use or cold to the touch when not in use and accessible to children.
4.38 *Fireplaces, woodstoves, and space heaters follow manufacturers’ guidelines for safe use.
4.39 *The educator keeps poisonous items in a locked location. Examples include:

  • Medications
  • Poisons
  • Pesticides
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Air fragrance products
  • Poisonous plants
4.40 *The educator keeps certain items out of the reach of children. Examples include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco
  • Cosmetics
  • Purses
  • Pet care products
4.41 The educator stores all poisonous items in their original containers.
4.42 *The educator ensures weapons and firearms are in a locked place inaccessible to the children.
4.43 *The educator ensures firearms are unloaded and stores ammunition in a separate, locked place.
4.44 *The educator notifies families in writing that firearms and/or other weapons are on the premises and the precautions they have taken to ensure children’s safety.
4.45 The educator helps children understand dangerous situations and the reasons for safety rules. The educator involves all children in discussions about their safety according to their level of developmental readiness.

Special Precautions for Infants and Toddlers

4.46 For children under 3 years old, the educator keeps toys or objects less than 1¼ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches in length (or fits inside of a cardboard toilet paper roll) out of reach.
4.47 *The educator ensures children are never left alone on a changing table. The educator keeps one hand on the child when the child is on the changing table or ensures diapering occurs on a non-porous mat on the floor.
4.48 The educator ensures infants up to 12 months of age are placed for sleep in a supine position, wholly on their back, without the use of a positioning device for every nap or sleep time unless an infant’s primary health care provider has completed a signed waiver indicating that the child requires an alternative sleep position.
4.49 The educator ensures all staff, families, volunteers, and others who care for infants in the family child care home are trained to follow required safe sleep practices as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
4.50 The educator ensures infants are not swaddled. Bibs, necklaces, and garments with ties or hoods are removed.
4.51 The educator ensures infants are placed for sleep in safe sleep environments, which include ONLY a firm crib mattress covered by a tight-fitting sheet in a safety-approved crib. The crib should meet the standards and guidelines reviewed/approved by the U.S. CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International. The educator ensures infants who arrive asleep or fall asleep while at the family child care home should be immediately placed in a safe sleep environment.
4.52 The educator ensures no items are in a crib occupied by an infant except for a pacifier.
4.53 The educator ensures only one infant is placed in each crib.
4.54 When placing infants in their cribs for sleep, the educator ensures the temperature in the room is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult and checks the infants to ensure that they are comfortably clothed (not overheated or sweaty).
4.55 The educator ensures bedding is changed between use by children, and if mats are used, they are cleaned between uses.
4.56 The educator ensures that when children under the age of 3 participate in water play, water play is limited to:

  • A stable water table with a height at or above the chest level of the smallest child, and the water is less than 6 inches deep.
  • Sprinklers and containers less than 6 inches wide or water less than 1 inch deep.
4.57 The educator ensures children cannot lock themselves into rooms. Privacy locks on bathroom or bedroom doors are inaccessible to children, or locks can be opened quickly from outside.
4.58 *The educator ensures working smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Although it is not required, NAFCC strongly encourages devices to be hard-wired rather than battery- operated.
4.59 *The educator ensures smoke and fire devices are on each floor of the home. Smoke and fire devices and carbon monoxide detectors are adjacent to or where children sleep.
4.60 *The educator conducts and records monthly maintenance checks of all equipment, including changing batteries annually or as needed.
4.61 *The educator ensures a fully charged and operable ABC-type fire extinguisher is in plain sight and available in or near the kitchen and on each floor of the home used for child care but inaccessible to children.
4.62 *The educator ensures instructions for use are posted on or near the fire extinguisher.
4.63 *The educator ensures all fire extinguishers are inspected and tagged annually. Non- rechargeable extinguishers must be replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
4.64 *The educator ensures staff is trained in the use of fire extinguishers.
4.65 *The educator ensures hot radiators and water pipes are covered or out of children’s reach.
4.66 *The educator ensures all tap water used by children does not exceed 120°F.
4.67 *The educator keeps hot items, including beverages, out of children’s reach. Hot foods and/or drinks over 120°F are not in child care areas when children are present.
4.68 The educator ensures paint on the walls, ceilings, woodwork, and any other surface is not peeling or flaking.
4.69 The educator ensures there are no paint chips or paint dust on floors or windowsills. Walls and ceilings are free of holes or large cracks.
4.70 The educator conducts annual inspections of paint.
4.71 The educator performs routine maintenance to ensure that paint remains intact in homes built before 1978.

Electrical Cords and Outlets

4.72 The educator ensures all cords, including power and non-power cords, are safely secured and out of children’s reach.
4.73 The educator ensures cords are not placed under rugs or carpeting.
4.74 *The educator ensures every electrical outlet in the reach of children must use a tamper-resistant electrical outlet or a safety cover attached to the outlet using a screw or other means that prevents removal by the children.

Exits and Stairs

4.75 The educator ensures each floor used by children has at least two exits that lead to the ground level.
4.76 The educator ensures exits are unobstructed and usable by toddlers and older children.
4.77 The educator ensures stairs with more than 3 steps, or a total rise of 24 inches or more, have railings usable by the children.
4.78 The educator securely installs safety gates or barriers to close access to all stairs that adjoin areas used for children under the age of 5.
4.79 The educator ensures gates at the tops of stairs are hardware mounted with latching devices that can be easily opened by adults (but not children) in an emergency.


4.80 *The educator ensures windows are accessible to children and are more than 3 feet above ground, the windows cannot be opened more than 4 inches, or they are opened from the top and have safety guards with bars no more than 4 inches apart. The safety guards must be removable from the inside by an adult in case of an emergency.
4.81 The educator ensures windows that can be opened have screens in good repair.


4.82 The educator ensures stove and other cooking appliances are used safely, including

  • Turning pot handles to the back.
  • Using back burners when available.
  • Removing or covering knobs when not in use.
  • Using safety knobs or ensuring knobs are out of children’s reach.
4.83 The educator ensures children do not play within 3 feet of the stove while in use.
4.84 The educator supervises school-age children when they are cooking on the stove.
4.85 The educator ensures lower cupboards are free of dangerous items or have child- proof latches.
4.86 The educator washes dishes, utensils, cooking and serving items, and bottles in a dishwasher, or washed in clean, hot, soapy water, then rinses and air dries them. Disposable dishes, cups, and utensils may also be used.
4.87 The educator cleans and sanitizes highchair trays and other surfaces where food is prepared and served daily.
4.88 The educator boils items used for bottle feeding for one minute after being rinsed.
4.89 The educator ensures garbage containers are plastic-lined, covered, and hands free, or are located out of reach of children.
4.90 The educator ensures all plastic bags are stored out of children’s reach.
4.91 The educator ensures a cold pack or equivalent is easily accessible when needed for first aid.

Bathroom and Diapering Area

4.92 The educator ensures diapering and toileting areas are separated from food areas.
4.93 If the same sink is used for hand washing after toileting or diaper changing, the educator disinfects it before using it for hand washing for any other reason, including food preparation.
4.94 The educator ensures infants and toddlers are only diapered in the diapering area. All other children wearing diapers are diapered in an area offering privacy, such as the bathroom.
4.95 The educator ensures the diapering surface is made of non-porous padding or wax paper and disinfects or properly disposes of it after each diaper change.
4.96 The educator disposed of diapers in a plastic-lined, hands free container, out of children’s reach.
4.97 The educator places soiled cloth diapers and/or clothing in a sealed bag that is not accessible to children and is sent to the child’s home at the end of the day.
4.98 *The educator washes, sanitizes, and disinfects potty chairs after each use.
4.99 *The educator ensures potty chairs are only used in the bathroom area, under direct supervision.
4.100 *The educator cleans and sanitizes the sink that is used to clean the chair after each use.
4.101 The educator ensures a safe and age-appropriate step stool is located next to any sink where children wash their hands, or the educator ensures children can reach faucets without a step stool. Children may be held by the educator while washing their hands.
4.102 *The educator provides soap, running water, and paper towels or single-use towels.
4.103 *The educator ensures written procedures for toileting, diapering, and handwashing are available.

Sleeping Areas

4.104 *The educator ensures that cribs, porta-cribs, or playpens meet current federal safety standards for use.
4.105 The educator provides children with individual sleeping spaces that allow their faces to be at least 3 feet apart from each other and a minimum of 18 inches, head to toe.
4.106 The educator provides a written policy regarding safe sleep practices to all staff in the program and all families.

Outdoor Safety Checklist

4.107 The educator creates an outdoor play site free of obstacles that could cause injuries (for example, low overhanging tree branches, overhead wires, tree stumps and/or roots, large rocks, bricks, and concrete).
4.108 The educator chooses a level location for the outdoor equipment.
4.109 The educator locates play equipment at least 6 feet from any structure or obstacle, such as a house, fence, shed, trees, or poles.
4.110 The educator locates bare metal platforms and slides them out of direct sunlight to reduce the likelihood of serious burns
4.111 The educator ensures the play space, including the neighborhood playground, if used, is free of animal feces, broken glass, paint chips, and trash. There is no flaking, peeling paint, or bare soil within 15 feet of a structure.
4.112 The educator ensures a fence or natural barrier, at least 4 feet in height, encloses the play space.
4.113 *The educator ensures ponds, wells, tool sheds, and other hazards are not accessible to children.
4.114 The educator ensures trampolines are not accessible to the children in care, except for therapeutic equipment used with supervision.

Swimming Pool

4.115 If there is a swimming pool, the educator ensures:

  • It is inaccessible to children except when supervised by more than one adult, one of whom is a certified lifeguard.
  • It has a barrier, such as a gate or door, which is locked when the pool is not in use.
  • In-ground pool is surrounded by a barrier at least 4 feet above grade that children cannot climb.
  • Above-ground pool sides are at least 4 feet high, and the ladder is locked or removed when not in use.
  • Life-saving equipment is located nearby.
4.116 *The educator ensures any hot tub or spa that is not fenced off has a locked cover strong enough for an adult to stand on.


4.117 The educator ensures swings are safe and meet or exceed current standards from the
U.S. CPSC for outdoor home playgrounds

  • Swings are surrounded by a clearance area and fall zone that extends at least 6 feet beyond the stationary swing.
  • Each swing hangs at least 30 inches away from the support poles and frame.
  • There are no exposed, moving parts that may present a pinching, crushing, or entanglement hazard, including all swing seat hooks.
  • All connecting devices or fasteners, such as hooks, are closed, including those at the top of the swing ropes or chains.
  • Swing sets must be securely and adequately anchored.
  • Swing sets are constructed and installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.


4.118 If a child has been diagnosed as having a special need, the educator understands the diagnosis, requests a copy of the child’s plan, and works with parents and specialists to follow the plan.
4.119 The educator has a detailed, written plan for children with special health or medical needs, including modifications required and emergency procedures.
4.120 (Major Revision 2024) Illegal activities of any kind do not occur on the premises at any time regardless of child care hours. The educator ensures smoking materials, alcohol, and mind-altering substances, and controlled/scheduled substances are inaccessible to the children and not used on the premises during child care hours unless prescribed by a medical professional.
4.121 *The educator only administers prescription medication from the original container with the original label intact, listing the child’s name.
4.122 *The educator follows written prescription directions. The educator obtains written permission from the family and administers medications as prescribed by the child’s health care professional.
4.123 *The educator may administer non-prescription remedies when they have received both written directions and permission from the child’s family.
4.124 *The educator ensures the initial dose of any medication, including prescribed medications, topical ointment, and other non-prescription remedies, is first administered outside of child care.
4.125 The educator teaches children about personal safety, physical activity, good nutrition, and healthy habits.

Nutrition and Food Preparation

4.126 *The educator serves nutritious and sufficient food following the national Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines.
4.127 *If families bring food, the educator ensures the food is nutritious and/or supplements it to meet the national CACFP guidelines.
4.128 *The educator stores, prepares and serves food, including breast milk and/or pre- made formula bottles, to children in a safe and sanitary manner.
4.129 *The educator cuts solid food into cubes no larger than 1/4 inch for infants and 1/2 inch for toddlers.
4.130 The educator ensures all bottles are labeled with the child’s name and date. The educator discards all unused milk/food/formula immediately.
4.131 The educator does not heat baby bottles containing milk, other liquid food, or beverages in a microwave. Liquids should always be checked to ensure that it is at a safe temperature before offering it to a child.
4.132 The educator allows foods heated in the microwave to rest for several minutes to ensure that it is at a safe temperature before offering it to a child.
4.133 The educator ensures baby bottles prepared by the family for use within the family child care home are labeled with the child’s name and display a date within 24 hours
4.134 The educator does not hold infants while heating food or preparing infant food that requires heating.
4.135 The educator refrigerates perishable items immediately when families bring in food for their child.
4.136 The educator ensures infant formula is in factory-sealed containers. The educator ensured powdered formula is provided in its original container.
4.137 The educator ensures all food brought by families is labeled with the child’s name and date of preparation.
4.138 The educator ensures breast milk is labeled with the date and time it was expressed.
4.139 The educator dates the current daily or weekly menu and shares it with families unless families provide food.
4.140 The educator notes menu modifications when changes occur.
4.141 The educator ensures children’s food allergies and special diet information are posted in the food preparation and/or eating areas in a manner that will both accurately and efficiently identify the child while maintaining confidentiality to visitors. If there are no children with food allergies or special diets enrolled in the program, the educator posts the following in the food preparation and/or eating areas: “There are no children with food allergies enrolled at this time”.

Meals and Snacks

4.142 The educator ensures meals or snacks are available at least every 3 hours.These times are relaxed, with some conversation between the educator and children.
4.143 The educator encourages children to drink water, and it is always available.
4.144 The educator only uses cold-water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula.
4.145 The educator flushes water at the tap before each use for food preparation.
The educator should contact their local water utility to gather more information on suggested flushing times.
4.146 The educator introduces children to new foods but does not force children to eat anything they do not want.
4.147 *The educator ensures children always sit down to eat meals and drink beverages.
4.148 *The educator ensures meals and snacks are not rushed and does not force children to stay at the table for more than a few minutes after they have finished eating.
4.149 *The educator ensures no use of screen media use during meals and snacks.
4.150 *The educator never uses food as a reward or withholds it as a punishment.
4.151 *The educator feeds infants when they are hungry.
4.152 *The educator holds infants under the age of 8 months when bottle feeding and beyond eight months if the child is unable to hold their own bottle.
4.153 *The educator never props bottles.
4.154 *The educator ensures infants over 8 months who are able to hold their own bottle sit while drinking from a bottles.
4.155 *The educator is attentive and responsive to infants during feeding.
4.156 The educator does not bottle feed more than one infant at a time.
4.157 The educator provides children with opportunities to help plan and prepare meals and snacks according to their abilities.

Minimize Disease

4.158 The educator uses their discretion when deciding whether to allow children with mild symptoms of illness may stay in the home.
4.159 The educator separates any child with severe or contagions symptoms are separated from other children and contacts the family to pick up the child.
4.160 The educator consults with the health department or other health consultants to determine if an unimmunized child should be excluded in the event of a vaccine- preventable illness being reported in the program (for example, chicken pox).
4.161 The educator notifies families in the event of a contagious condition with specific information. The child with the contagious condition will not be identified.
4.162 Upon enrollment, the educator examines children’s immunization records to ensure they are consistent with local and national standards.
4.163 If, after resources are made available, a child remains unimmunized, the educator gives notice to the family that the child will be excluded from care until the immunizations are up to date or progress is being made on receiving needed immunizations.
4.164 The educator is up to date on all immunizations recommended for adults unless a health or religious exemption is in place.
4.165 *The educator practices standard health precautions. The educator wears disposable, non-latex, non-porous gloves when they have contact with blood, other bodily fluids, or feces.
4.166 *The educator immediately cleans and disinfects any surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids or fecal matter.
4.167 *The educator wraps contaminated articles in plastic and carefully disposes of them or sends them home with families.
4.168 *If educator is unable to use disposable gloves to wipe a child’s nose, the educator washes their hands with soap and water immediately after wiping.
4.169 *The educator removes gloves and washes hands with soap and water before touching non-contaminated items and prior to handling another child.
4.170 The educator ensures children do not share personal items (for example, combs, brushes, toothbrushes, bibs, towels, washcloths, bedding, or personal clothing).
4.171 The educator stores toothbrushes in a manner that prevents the bristles from coming into contact with one another or dripping on one another.
4.172 The educator offers an opportunity for children to brush their teeth after eating at least once a day.
4.173 The educator assists younger children with brushing their teeth as needed.
4.174 Each day, the educator sweeps all floors used by children with a damp mop and/or vacuums with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
4.175 Each day the educator mops washable floors used by children with fragrance-free soap and water or third-party certified environmentally friendly cleaner (for example, Green Seal, EcoLogo or EPA’s Safer Choice). The educator cleans washable floors in child diapering and toilet areas first with fragrance-free soap and water or third-party certified environmentally friendly cleaner and then disinfects with an EPA-registered, fragrance-free disinfectant.
4.176 Each month, the educator cleans window frames and windowsills using a damp mop, paper towel with warm water, and an all-purpose, fragrance-free cleaner or third- party certified environmentally friendly cleaner.
4.177 The educator cleans and sanitizes toys and surfaces regularly.
4.178 The educator ensures that toys that are mouthed by a child are not used by others until the toys are sanitized.
4.179 If there is water play, the educator empties the water containers and sanitizes them daily.
4.180 If there is a sand area or box, the educator covers it when not in use and inspects it for cleanliness before use.
4.181 The educator ensures individual children’s bedding is laundered at least once a week, when visibly soiled, or before being used by another child.
4.182 The educator stores each child’s bedding is stored so that it does not come into contact with other bedding.
4.183 *The educator washes hands with fragrance-free soap and running water and dries with individual disposable or single-use cloth towel at the following times:

  • Upon arrival at the program, or before the first child arrives;
  • Before and after: handling food, eating, or feeding a child, giving medication or applying a medical ointment or cream, diapering a child, joining children in water play or playdough that more than one person uses;
  • After: using the toilet or helping a child use the toilet, contact with bodily fluids, handling animals and/or their waste, cleaning, handling garbage, coming inside from outdoors, and
  • When needed.
4.184 *The educator may use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60-90% alcohol) as a suitable alternative for hand hygiene only when running water is unavailable.
4.185 *The educator may not use pre-moistened wipes as a substitute for washing hands with fragrance-free soap and water.
4.186 The educator washes children’s hands with soap and running water and dried with individual disposable or single use cloth towels at the following times:

  • Upon arrival;
  • Before and after: handling food or playing in water or with sand, or playdough that more than one person uses; and
  • After: toileting, diapering, contact with bodily fluids, handling animals, cleaning, handling garbage, and playing outdoors.
4.187 Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a suitable alternative for children over the age of 24 months only when running water is unavailable.


4.193 *The educator ensures there are no exotic or poisonous animals, hermit crabs, birds from the parrot family, ferrets, or wolf hybrids.
4.194 *The educator keeps all reptiles and amphibians behind a glass wall in a tank where children cannot touch them.
4.195 *If there are animals in the home, the educator ensures current rabies and distemper immunization records are on file and a document signed by a veterinarian within the past year verifying that the animals are rabies free.
4.196 The educator ensures litter boxes, pet feces, pet food, pet medications, and pet toys are kept out of children’s reach.

Professional and Business Practices

As a small business owner, the educator is ethical and caring in relations with children and families. The educator’s contracts and policies are sound. The educator is reflective and intentional about her work, seeking continuing education and support from others. The educator abides by legal requirements and makes use of resources in the community.

Ethics and Legality

Ethics and Legality

5.1 The educator uses reflective practices to intentionally implement policies and programming that respect the dignity, worth, uniqueness, and diversity of each child and each family.
5.2 *The educator maintains confidentiality and respects the privacy of potential, enrolled, and previously enrolled children and their families, including their records, unless mandated by law or within the parameters of parental permission. This excludes the responsibility of being a mandated reporter of child abuse.
5.3 The educator does not discriminate against a child or family based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or disability. The educator follows any state laws that prohibit discrimination against additional protected classes.
5.4 The educator has a written policy available to families, indicating that the program welcomes all children and is committed to developmentally appropriate practices that support each and every child.
5.5 *In the family child care home, the educator ensures there is no physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, exploitation, or neglect, including self-neglect, mental mistreatment, or abandonment.
5.6 *The educator ensures children only leave the family child care home with an individual that is the child’s legal parent or guardian, someone that is communicated to the program by the legal parent or guardian in writing or verbally (only in the case of an emergency), or someone noted in official documents in the child’s file. This policy is in writing and shared with the family.
Professional Activities

Professional Activities
Continuing Education and Support

5.7 *The educator has a written plan aligned to meet or surpass the professional development requirement for NAFCC annual training and re-accreditation to keep abreast of current research and best practices in family child care programming and business practices.
5.8 The educator maintains a multi-level, continuous, quality program that includes early screening and early intervention.
5.9 The educator is actively involved in a local and/or state family child care or early childhood-related professional group. If none is available, the educator is informally active with a group of other educators or professionals.
5.10 The educator takes precautions and is proactive in maintaining their own mental health.
5.11 (New 2024) The educator prepares a 1, 2, or 3-year strategic plan that identifies quality improvement opportunities and includes input from staff and families.
5.12 (New 2024) The educator completes an annual program evaluation incorporating the perspectives of families and staff to monitor and assess program objectives and goals.
5.13 The educator shares information and develops a collaborative connection with families about common child-rearing issues/practices, such as temper tantrums and signs of infectious disease.

Resource and Referral

5.14 *The educator knows how to detect signs of child abuse and neglect, understands the responsibility to report suspicious cases to child protective services, and, if appropriate, files a report.
5.15 The educator has information about school and family partnerships and community resources in the family’s primary language whenever possible. These resources may include physical and mental health, nutrition/fitness, child care resource and referral, special needs, care for infants, including breastfeeding support and child care subsidies.
5.16 If available, the educator informs families about tax information, such as tax credits, child care subsidies, and employer child care benefits.

Business Contracts and Policies

5.17 The educator uses an enrollment process that facilitates an exchange of information between the educator and family, working to assure a good match. Theses discussions include a description of the program and policies as well as families’ values and wishes around such topics as eating, sleeping, toileting, and discipline.
5.18 The educator provides prospective families with the names and phone numbers of three current or recently enrolled families, with those families’ permission. If unavailable, the educator provides character references.
5.19 The educator or sponsoring agency has a signed child care contract with each family. The child care contract includes hours of service, fees, payment schedule, educator’s and child’s vacations, educator’s and child’s sick leave, educator’s and child’s absence policy, responsibility for alternate care, and termination policy.
The educator operates according to the agreed-upon terms of the contract with families.
5.20 The educator operates according to the agreed-upon terms of the contract with families.
5.21 If there is a contract amendment, the family is notified, and the change is reflected in an addendum with a date.
5.22 If there is a major contract modification that affects all families, the educator provides a minimum of 60 days advanced notice, offers meetings to explain the modification, and requires new signatures of all parties.
5.23 The educator provides paid receipts for payment of fees and for families receiving scholarships or subsidized funding upon request.
5.24 The educator sends each family an annual statement of fees paid or funding received by January 31st.
5.25 The educator should have an employee identification number (EIN)/9-digit Federal TaxIdentification number and share it with families upon request.
5.26 *In the case that a child sustains an injury beyond a minor scrape or bruise, the educator contacts the family immediately, provides the family a written accident report within 24 hours of the incident that describes the incident, actions taken, any professional medical attention and the outcome, how the child responded, location and time of the incident, and the name of the persons involved, and retains a copy ofthe report for no less than 3 years.
5.27 The educator implements and shares with families an illness policy defining:

  • When ill children will be accommodated and/or separated from the other children to provide comfort and minimize transference of the illness.
  • Severe and/or contagious symptoms that comply with local licensing requirements or Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs (CFOC3) guidelines, whichever is most restrictive, and require notification of the family or another emergency contact to pick up the child, including how the educator will contact the family.
  • How families are notified in the event of a contagious condition in the program.
5.28 The educator gives written policies to families about various topics (for example, substitute care arrangement, persons authorized to pick up child, illness, medication administration, emergencies, guidance and discipline, developmentally appropriate learning activities, inclusion, mandated reporter of child abuse, confidentiality, safe sleep, the use of screen media, family participation and conference, developmental and academic assessment, and transitions).
5.29 The educator ensures they have insurance, including accident insurance for children and assistants (if the educator has staff),

Record Keeping

5.30 The educator uses an organized system to create a child intervention/assessment program that is trauma-informed/sensitive, responsive, and includes developmental protocol at entry, ongoing, and referral (if needed) for each child.
5.31 The educator ensures intervention/assessment documentation includes:

  • Information about the child’s interests, accomplishments, concerns, and behaviors in the form of observation notes, photos, checklists, and work samples on a frequent and consistent basis.
  • Information across all the cognitive (creative [music, art], math, social studies, science, communication/language/literacy), affective (social/emotional), and psychosocial (physical development, motor skills, and approaches to playing and learning) learning domains.
5.32 Intervention/assessment documentation is used to inform program planning, family conferences, conversations, and monitor progress.
5.33 The educator gathers information about the children and their families to guide programming and planning, such as special needs, fears, food preferences, important holidays and traditions, and updates the information as needed.
5.34 *The educator maintains updated medical information for each child which the child’s family signs. Examples include the child’s allergies, chronic illness, immunizations (or written documentation of objections), hearing, visual, dental, and other known health or medical conditions.
5.35 *If children are transported or go on field trips, the educator ensures they have signed permission from the child’s family. The educator shares details of the trip with the family before departure (for example, address, leave time, return time, and adults present).
5.36 The educator keeps accurate daily attendance records of children, ensuring they are signed in and out each time they enter or leave the family child care home by the adult who brings the child and the adult who picks up the child.
5.37 The educator ensures the family has permitted an authorized adult to sign the child in if they are school-age or use alternative transportation.
5.38 *The educator keeps records of all business and income expenses.
Assistants and Substitutes

Assistants and Substitutes
Assistants are scored on all standards, together with the provider.

5.39 (New 2024) The educator provides sufficient orientation and training to assistant educators and substitutes, including CPR/first aid, safe sleep practices, basic child health and safety practices, recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect, guidance/discipline, security, and emergency procedures.
5.40 The assistant educator understands and supports the goals of each child, as well as the rules and routines of the family child care program.
5.41 The educator ensures families have met any regular assistant educator or substitute, except in emergencies.
5.42 The educator provides training to assistant educators on how to create a child assessment program for each child.
5.43 The educator and assistant educator collaborate on a written plan designed to meet the professional development requirements for NAFCC annual training and re- accreditation.
5.44 The assistant educator, including an adult family member of the educator, has a written job description defining duties and responsibilities.
5.45 The educator annually reviews the assistant educator’s job performance if job responsibilities include teaching or assisting with the children.
5.46 The educator complies with all federal and state payroll tax rules and purchases worker’s compensation when required under state law.
5.47 The educator pays the assistant educator at least the minimum wage.
5.48 Assistant educators or substitutes who work more than 5 hours a day with the children have a break of at least ½ hour.
5.49 Assistant educators or substitutes who work less than 5 hours a day with the children have a break of at least 10 minutes.

Substitute Educators

5.50 Except in emergencies, families are notified in advance when a substitute educator will be responsible for their children.
5.51 Co-educators must meet all eligibility requirements and submit all documentation as required of a family child care educator.
5.52 Co-educators must be onsite actively involved with children individually 60% of the time.
5.53 *If an assistant educator is left in charge of children in the educator’s absence, they meet all the requirements of a substitute.

Qualifications of Substitutes

5.54 *Except in emergencies, any adult left alone with children should be:

  • At least 21 years of age;
  • Hold a current certificate in first aid and pediatric CPR; Have an acceptable tuberculosis screening;
  • Have spent time with the children before being left in charge; and
  • Understand the program policies and routines, children’s special health and nutrition needs, including allergies and emergency procedures.
5.55 The educator ensures substitutes receive the same training and orientation as an assistant educator.
5.56 The educator documents in writing the substitutes’ training.
5.57 * Substitutes left alone with children should meet minimal NAFCC eligibility requirements:

  • At least 21 years of age;
  • Have a high school diploma or GED;
  • Follow all regulations of the authorized regulatory body; Have a favorable state and federal criminal history;
  • Be in good health to provide a nurturing and stable environment for children; Maintain a current First Aid and Pediatric CPR certification; and
  • Adhere to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Code of Ethical Conduct.

Accreditation Terms

Accreditation – a process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is

Accreditation Commission – The NAFCC body responsible for accreditation decisions.

Accreditation Council– The Council ensures that NAFCC Accreditation policies and standards are current and relevant.

Accreditation Period – A family child care provider is accredited for a period of three years
based on successful completion of annual renewals.

Age Groups – Age groups in NAFCC accreditation are defined in the following ways:

  • Infants – under the age of 1
  • Toddlers – age 1 and older and under the age of 3
  • Preschoolers – age 3 and older and under the age of 5
  • School-Agers – age 5 and older and under the age of 12

Ages – Ages in the standards are stated as either “age and older,” or “under the age of .”

  • Ex. Children age 3 and older. This applies beginning on the 3rd birthday.
  • Ex. Children under the age of 3. This applies until the 3rd birthday.

Appeal – The process used to request that an accreditation decision be reconsidered.

Application – Educator eligibility is assessed, which includes verification of CPR and First Aid certification, background checks, and family child care specific training.

Assistant – An assistant to the educator works with and under the supervision of the educator. An assistant must be age 16 or older.The assistant is not left in charge of the children unless he or she meets all the qualifications of a substitute.

Candidate – A family child care provider who is in the accreditation process.

Child-Directed Activities – Times during which the children take the lead role in choosing or designing how activities will take place.

Cognitive Theory – acquiring knowledge and to develop or construct a mental model of the world.

Conditional Accreditation – A temporary decision given in cases when an issue concerning a standard can be easily resolved and the resolution documented for NAFCC. When a conditional accreditation decision is made, the candidate receives specific feedback which includes the resolution that is required and a time frame within which the resolution must be made.

Conflict of Interest – A relationship or perceived relationship between an accreditation candidate and an observer that might influence the observer’s objectivity

Co-Educators – Two educators who share equally in the decision making and responsibility of the program. Both educators must meet all eligibility requirements and submit all educator documentation. Each co-educator must be on site and actively involved at least 60% of the time. Both co-educators are scored on all standards during the observation visit and both participate in the interview.

Cultural Difference Theory – stresses that it is important for teachers to be aware of the difference between the school atmosphere and the home environment.

Decision – NAFCC reviews documentation from the observer and the candidate, as well as data from the parent surveys. The Accreditation Commission uses that information to determine the candidate’s accreditation status

Deferral – A decision given in cases when the Commission concludes that significant improvements need to be made in the child care program and additional time is needed in self-study. The provider may apply for accreditation when eligible.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice – This important concept (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, 2009), identified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), means that a caregiver’s practices are appropriate for the developmental levels of the children enrolled, as well as being appropriate for each individual child in his or her social and cultural context. The concept applies throughout the accreditation standards.

Document Theory – a field that examines both the concept of a document and how it can serve with other concepts to understand better the complex areas of communication, documentation, information, and knowledge.

Documentation – Educator – Data required from a educator to process an accreditation application. Educator documentation includes certificates, forms, and specific written information.

Educator – The person in charge of the family child care program. NAFCC Accreditation requires the educator to be on site and actively involved at least 80% of the time care is offered.When a standard refers to “the educator,” it also applies to the co-educator, assistant, or substitute.

Educator Interview – A time built into the observation visit during which the educator is able to give NAFCC additional information about what was seen or not seen during the observation. The educator interview also includes a series of scripted questions the educator is asked to answer.

FCC / Family Child Care – Child care that is offered in a home environment for children from infancy through the school-age years. Many educators have their own children and/or relatives in their family child care programs.

Field Trip – An outing where children go to a destination other than their home or school. The outing may or may not require transportation. Walking field trips are included in this definition.

Free Play – An unhurried time for children to choose their own play activities, with a minimum of adult direction. Educators may observe, facilitate, or join the play, as needed. Free Play may be indoors or outdoors. Several choices must be available.

Fully Met – The designation used to refer to a standard when there is full and consistent evidence demonstrating high-quality care.

Intentional No – Educators may choose not to meet a non-starred standard if there is sound reason to do so, however, the intention of the standard must be met in some way. The reasoning must take all health and safety aspects into consideration. NAFCC will make the decision as to whether the intentional no is accepted or not.

Mandatory Standard – A standard that has been determined to be required for high quality care. Educators must meet all mandatory standards. A mandatory standard is also referred to as a “starred” standard.

Manipulative Toys – Small toys that foster small-motor development and eye- handcoordination, such as nesting cups, puzzles, interlocking blocks, and materials from nature.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – Physiological, safety, love, esteem and self-actualization. Mentor – An individual who offers support and guidance.

NAFCC – The National Association for Family Child Care is the professional organization dedicated to promoting high quality care by strengthening the profession of family child care.

Not Applicable – The designation that a standard does not apply to the family child care program. Not applicable standards are not considered when deciding about a candidate’s accreditation status.

Not met – The designation that there is little or no evidence that a standard is being met. Not Observed –The designation that there is not observable evidence that a standard is being met.

Observation – NAFCC trained observers conduct observations of candidates and their programs. The observer gathers information based on the Quality Standards and objectively documents what is seen and heard.

Observer – A professional trained by NAFCC who observes the family child care environment home to document if the accreditation standards are being met and interviews the educator to inquire about any standards that are not fully met or that were not observed. Observers have experience and knowledge about family child care programs, as well as knowledge of child development.

Open-Ended Art – Open-ended art allows children to construct their own creations.Children decide what they will make, draw, or paint, etc. and deicide how they will go about the creative process.

Open-Ended Questions – Open-ended questions have many possible answers, not just one correct answer. They include “what if” questions which require children to make predictions and other questions that encourage children to use their imaginations.

Parent – In the NAFCC system, the term “parent” includes parents, grandparents, foster parents, same-gender co-parents, and any guardian or other adult committed to caring for the child.

Partially Met – The designation that a standard is met some of the time, orsome of the standard is met, but not most of the time or most of the standard.

Power Struggle – On-going competition for power where each person tries to control and subdue the other.

Project (Accreditation Facilitation) – An entity offering accreditation support services to family child care educators.

Psychosocial Theory – Several stages that influence an individual’s development.

Re-accreditation – The process an accredited educator engages in to maintain current accreditation status at the end of the three-year accreditation period.There is no limit to the number of times a educator can be re-accredited.

Relocation – The term used when the accredited educator moves their program during the three-year Accreditation period.

Renewals – Educators assess themselves and their programs to ensure continuous compliance with the Quality Standards, verify they continue to meet all eligibility requirements, and report the professional development activities and quality improvements they have completed during the previous 18 months.

Safety Hinge – a hinge on a toy box or other lidded box, that prevents the lid from closing quickly. The lid is also able to be opened from the inside of the box, preventing someone from being trapped.

Scoring – The designation chosen by the observer to indicate whether the educator fully meets, partially meets, or does not meet a standard. Scoring in the Decision Phase refers to the process of assessing the observer’s documentation, the educator’s self-observation and the parent surveys prior to the Accreditation Commission’s decision.

Screen Media – Screen media is any electronic device which has a screen for viewing TV, videos, DVD’s, internet, or for playing games.

Self-Certified Standards – Standards that are not assessed by the observer which must be certified by the educator. If an educator indicates that a self-certified standard is less than fully met, an explanation of circumstance or rationale must be included. The educator must sign and date a self-certified compliance affidavit.

Self-study – During self-study, educators evaluate themselves and their programs using the Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation and make quality improvements.

Separation Anxiety – recurrent and excessive distress about anticipating or being away from home or loved ones.

Social Learning Theory – where family, provider, peers and the wider society and culture plays a crucial role in mental development.

Special Needs – Children with special needs are not usually placed in a separate category in the NAFCC Accreditation. The educator should respond to the unique needs of every child.

Standard – The designation used by NAFCC to refer to accreditation criteria.

Substitute – A person who is left in charge of children, when the educator or an assistant is absent. Substitutes must meet the qualifications described in the Quality Standards.

Support Group – Educators who come together to identify ways to meet accreditation standards and offer each other support in preparation for accreditation.

Teachable Moments – Unplanned events that can be used as learning opportunities. They provide meaningful contexts to introduce or expand on something you want children to learn about. Teachable moments can include meal times, experiences with pets, or events children witness while traveling.

The Family Child Care Project – The Family Child Care Project is dedicated to improving the quality of family child care through research, demonstration, and dissemination. Kathy Modigliani, Ed.D., is the project director.

Tourist Curriculum – Inappropriate cultural activities in which children are exposed to a sampling of exotic holidays, heroes, events, foods, or customs from other cultures with no real exploration of how people truly live or any understanding of their values.

Waiver – Educators may request a waiver for any of the requirements to become accredited by writing and sending supportive documentation to the NAFCC Commission. The commission reviews each request on individual bases and responds accordingly.

What if Question – Questions that require a prediction.