North Carolina Drop-In / Short-Term Child Care
CHILD CARE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)
WHAT IS DROP-IN/SHORT-TERM CHILD CARE?
Drop-in/short-term child care is defined by law in G.S. 110-86(2)(d)(d1)
as a child care arrangement where care is provided while parents participate
in activities that are not employment related, and where the parents
are on the premises or otherwise easily accessible.
These arrangements are available in health spas, health clubs, bowling
alleys, shopping malls, resort hotels, or other similar locations.
Drop-in/short-term care child care would be used by parents who need
care while they occasionally run errands or participate in leisure
activities. The operation must be able to reach the parent by telephone,
cell phone, or pager, etc., if they are not on the premises. The parent
must be able to get back to the program within 15 minutes.
CAN THE OPERATOR OF THE BUSINESS ALSO OFFER DROP-IN/SHORT-TERM
CHILD CARE FOR THE CHILDREN OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
The law allows an employer to offer drop-in/short-term child care
for the children of their part-time employees, if the child does not
receive care for more than 2 and a half hours during the same day,
the parent is on the premises, and there are no more than 25 children
in any one group in any one room.
WHO REGULATES DROP-IN/SHORT-TERM CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENTS?
Drop-in/short-term child care arrangements are not required to be
licensed or regulated by any state agency, including the Department
of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the Division of Child Development
(DCD). These arrangements must complete a Registration Application
and receive a notice that must be posted in a prominent location to
notify parents that they are not required to be and are not licensed
HOW IS DROP-IN/SHORT-TERM CHILD CARE DIFFERENT FROM CHILD CARE?
Child care is defined by law in G.S. 110-86 (2) as a program or arrangement
where three or more children less than 13 years old, receive care
away from their home on a regular basis (at least one time per week)
for more than four hours but less than 24 hours per day from people
other than their parents or legal custodians. Child care programs
that meet this definition must be regulated by the Division of Child
Development to ensure that children are in healthy, safe and educational
settings while not in the care of their parents or legal custodians.
There are a few situations, in addition to drop-in/short-term child
care arrangements that do not meet the definition of child care and,
therefore, are not required to be regulated by the Division of Child
• When all of the children being cared for are related to each
other and care is provided in their home, and no more than two additional
children are in care;
• Recreational programs that operate for less than four consecutive
months in a year;
• Special activities or instruction like athletics, dance, art,
music lessons, horseback riding, gymnastics, or organized clubs for
children, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H groups or boys and
• Public schools;
• Private schools accredited by the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools that operate a child care facility for less than
6 and a half hours a day, either on or off the school site;
• Vacation Bible schools;
• Care provided in Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities,
and Substance Abuse facilities;
• Cooperative arrangements between parents to provide care for
their own children as a convenience rather than for employment;
• Any child care program that has two or more separate components,
each of which operates for four hours or less per day with different
children attending each component.
WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK A DROP-IN/SHORT TERM CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENT
SHOULD BE REGISTERED (HAVE A NOTICE POSTED) AND THEY AREN’T?
Contact your local Resource and Referral agency or the Division of
Child Development’s hotline # at 1-800-859-0829 and ask to speak
with a customer service representative.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A DROP-IN/SHORT-TERM CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENT
BEFORE I DECIDE TO LEAVE MY CHILD(REN) THERE?
What are the education and training qualifications of your staff?
Do you require a criminal background check on your staff?
How many children will be in the group with my child?
How many staff members will be supervising my child’s group?
What types of activities will be available for my child?
Do you offer meals and/or snacks to my child?
What type of security measures does your arrangement have in place
to assure my child’s safety? (staff required to be first aid
and CPC certified, sign in/sign out procedures, staff knowledgeable
of evacuation procedures like fire drills or tornados, safety caps
on outlets, etc.)
Do you use physical punishment? What is your discipline policy?