Licensing Standards for DayCare Centers
1) PURPOSE OF LICENSING The primary purpose of licensing is the protection of children. Minimum requirements seek to maintain adequate health, safety, and supervision of children while in day care. Developmental child care as provided for in the "Recommendations" provides educational experiences and guidance, health services, and social services to children and their families. (2) Child care services may be offered by family day care homes, group day care homes, day care or child development centers, nursery schools, day nurseries, and kindergartens, among others. (The term day care has been changed in this revision to child care because of the many types of care now available.) (3) LEGAL BASIS FOR LICENSING. T.C.A. ¤¤ 71-3- 501 through 71-3-531 provide for the defining, inspection, licensing, and regulation of child care agencies. The Tennessee Department of Human Services has responsibility for licensing most agencies offering child care to groups of children. The Tennessee Department of Education regulates child care provided by schools pursuant to T.C.A ¤ 49-2- 203 and by church-related schools as defined in T.C.A ¤ 49- 50-801. (4) DEFINITIONS. (A) For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions are applicable: 1. Annual License - An annual permit issued by the Department to a child welfare agency, authorizing the licensee to provide child care in accordance with provisions of the license, the law, and requirements (rules) of the Department. Issuance of a license is not an endorsement of child care methods or of an agency's operational philosophy. A license is not transferable from one location to another or from licensee/operator to another. The license may be revoked at any time upon 90-days notice to the licensee, or if the health, safety, or welfare of the children in care imperatively requiring it may be summarily suspended. 2. Approval - Public agencies, as defined in T.C.A. ¤¤ 71-3-501 and 71-3-518, receive an approval rather than a license. An approved agency must meet the same requirements and is evaluated in the same manner as a licensed agency. The term is also applied to homes with fewer than five children that are satellites of a licensed day care center or child-placing agency (see T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-504). 3. Central Operator - The person(s), corporation, partnership, cooperative, or other private or public organization which, in addition to other activities, if any, operates a child care system consisting of two or more day care homes. The central operator must be a licensed child placing agency or an incorporated child care center, unless it is an approved public agency meeting the requirements of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-518. The central operator may also provide the homes in the system with administrative or support services such as, but not limited to, training, technical assistance, supervision, and provision of or referral to health and social services. 4. Child - A person under 17 years of age. 5. Child Care - The wide variety of arrangements made by parents (or guardians) for the care outside of their home of children under 17 years of age, for less than 24-hour periods. 6. Child Care Center - Any place operated by a person, society, agency, corporation, institution, or religious organization or any other group which receives 13 or more children under 17 years of age for less than 24 hours a day, without transfer of custody. 7. Child Care Handbook - The publication provided by the Department to the operator of child care centers (day care centers) which contains references to these rules, recommended practices, guidelines, and appendices related to the operation of the child care center. Any conflicts between rules and appendices therein and these rules shall be resolved by reference to these rules. 8. Child Care System - A group of two or more approved day care homes in which each is related to a licensed or approved central operator through contractual or employment arrangements. 9. Conditional License - A permit issued by the Department to a new child welfare agency or to a new child care system central operator, permitting and authorizing the licensee to begin child care operations. It is valid, unless suspended, for 90 days or until the application for an annual license if finally determined and is issued upon application by the operator only if the staff and facility do not present any apparent hazards to the children that may be in care and only if the facility has received fire safety and environmental sanitation approval. If, at the end of the 90- day period, evidence is provided by the applicant/licensee that such child welfare agency is suitable and properly managed and that the agency is in compliance with these rules, the Department will issue an annual license to the child welfare agency. 10. Day Care - Synonymous with definition of child care, above. 11. Department (DHS) - The Tennessee Department of Human Services and its representatives. 12. Director - The person with overall responsibility for the program. 13. High School Diploma - As used in the context of caregivers' qualifications, refers to a document recognizing graduation from an accredited institution, public or private, based on the issuing state's required number of academic credits, including passing a GED test. As used in this Chapter, a certificate or statement of attendance or similar document, or correspondence or video courses, do not qualify as or for a high school diploma. 14. Infant - A child who is six weeks through 15 months of age. 15. Kindergarten - For licensing purposes, the definition of a child care center excludes kindergarten programs for five-year-old children operated on essentially the same time schedule as public school kindergartens. A kindergarten may be part of a public or private school system or may be operated independently. If the agency serves children under five years of age or exceeds the time schedule normally observed by public kindergartens, it must be licensed. 16. Law - Statutory or regulatory provisions affecting the operation of a child welfare agency including the licensing law as contained in T.C.A. ¤¤ 71-3- 501 through 71-3-531 and these rules. 17. Licensee - The person, agency, or group to whom a license to operate a child care center is issued and who must assume ultimate responsibility for the child care center. References to a licensee in the requirements also applies to operators of an agency seeking or having received an approval. 18. Parent - A biological or adoptive parent, guardian, or custodian who has primary responsibility for a child. 19. Preschool Child - A person who is 31 months through five years old; use of the term also includes infants and toddlers. 20. School-age child - A person who is five years of age and in kindergarten or older (generally through grade six). 21. Staff - Full and part-time caregivers, employees, or unpaid volunteers. 22. Toddler - A child who is 12 months through 30 months of age (5) BASIS FOR APPROVAL FOR LICENSE (A) Annual License-Standards: Tennessee law requires that all child welfare agencies, as defined in T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-501, must be licensed annually by the Department. The license is based on standards developed and published in accordance with the following six points of excellence: 1. The present need for the proposed child welfare agency; 2. The good character and intention of the applicant; 3. The adequate financing of the organization; 4. The capability, training, and experience of the workers employed; 5. The facilities for and the methods of care provided and the consideration of the best interest of the child and the welfare of society in any placement of children to be made; and 6. The probability of permanence of the child welfare agency. (B) Conditional License: The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-506 and Chapter 1240-5-11 are applicable. (6) LICENSING PROCEDURE. (A) Issuance of License - Fees. The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-506 are applicable. (B) Inspection of Licensed Agencies - The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-519 are applicable. (C) Public Agencies - Inspection and Report. The provisions of T.C.A ¤ 71-3-518 are applicable. (D) Penalty for Unlicensed Operation - The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-513 are applicable. (E) Denial, Suspension, and/or Revocation of License - The provisions of T.C.A ¤ 4-5-320, 71-3-508, 71- 3-509, 71-3-521, 71-3-530, and Chapter 1240-5-11 are applicable. (F) Appeals from Board of Review - The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-512 are applicable. (G) Annual Reports - The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-517 are applicable. (H) Consultation: 1. The provisions of T.C.A. ¤ 71-3-505 are applicable. 2. The Department has responsibility for offering consultation to existing child care agencies. Consultation is given directly to staff and boards, on both an individual and group basis, in developing and improving programs and physical facilities. The Department also provides consultation to organizations or individuals interested in opening a child care facility and will direct persons to the proper officials governing health, fire, building, and zoning requirements in each community. STANDARDS FOR CHILD CARE CENTERS In the following rules, references to several appendices in the 1987 edition have been removed.