Press Releases

Report: Most States Fail to Protect Children in Family Child Care Homes

March 21, 2010

Arlington, VA -  The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) released its latest report today, ranking states on their current small family child care home standards and oversight policies. The report, entitled Leaving Children to Chance: NACCRRA’s Ranking of State Standards and Oversight of Small Family Child Care Homes, 2010 Update reveals that most states fail to protect the health, safety and well-being of children being cared for in small family child care homes. According to the report, only four states scored 70 percent or higher on the basic requirements needed to ensure that children are safe and in settings that promote healthy development.

The report ranks every state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense (DoD) child care system on 14 different standards focused on ensuring the health, safety and well-being of children while in home-based child care programs serving six or fewer children.  States were ranked based on a point system with states earning a possible 140 points – 10 points for each standard examined  (Scores were adjusted if states allowed more than six children in care before applying any regulations).  Standards include: inspections prior to licensing, number of annual inspections and complaint-related inspections; type of inspections (announced or unannounced); type of background check; people in the household required to have a background check; provider education/training; initial training requirements; subject areas required in initial training; annual training requirements; parent-provider communication; toys and materials required; learning activities requirements; group size limitations; and health and safety requirements.

According to the report, the average state score was a 42 out of a possible 140 points among all states.  Seventeen states received a score of zero.   About half the states do not conduct inspections at least annually.  Twenty-six states have no minimum education requirements for family child care providers.  Only 27 states require criminal background checks of family child care providers using fingerprints.  And only nine states meet all of the health and safety requirements needed to keep children safe and healthy in child care.

“Although states have had two years since the release of our first Leaving Children to Chance report to improve their regulations, this updated report clearly shows that most states are still not doing enough to make sure that our children in small family child care homes are safe and healthy,” said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA.  “With the security of nearly 2 million children at risk, it is crucial that states revisit and improve their regulations to guarantee children are safe, healthy and learning in family child care.”

According to the report, the top 10 states included: Delaware (110); Oklahoma (108); Washington (103); Massachusetts (101); Department of Defense (96); Alabama (93); Maryland (88); District of Columbia (86); Colorado (78); and Florida (76).  States receiving a score of zero included: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

“Care offered in a family child care home is one of the largest segments of the child care industry,” said Smith.  “Nearly 2 million children are in some type of family child care home setting each week.  Even in the top 10 states, there is much room for improvement.  For example, Florida was 10th, but earned a 54 percent, a failing grade in any classroom.  States are leaving children to chance and that is simply not good enough for a state or national policy.”

To ensure children’s safety, NACCRRA recommends that Congress: (1) require regulation of family child care homes in which paid providers regularly care for unrelated children, (2) require all paid providers to undergo a comprehensive background check based on fingerprints, (3) require an inspection/site visit prior to licensing and unannounced inspections throughout the year, (4) require 40 or more hours of initial training and 24 hours of annual training (in basic areas like CPR, first aid, safe sleeping practices for infants, etc.), (5) require states to meet each of the 10 health and safety standards, (6) grant the Child Care Bureau the authority to assess state child care plans for content and compliance and withhold funds from states with insufficient policies and oversight, (7) require states to justify any categories of providers who are exempt from regulation, and (8) require states to post inspection results on the Internet. 

To download a copy of the full report, visit