Tennessee Tennessee

Licensing Standards for DayCare Centers

Homepage           Login          Sign-Up         Forum      Toys & Products        About Us           


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.) 



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-




        (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 


                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 



        (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 


                3.  The adequate financing of the 


                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.  



        (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 


        (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. 




In the following rules, references to several appendices in 

the 1987 edition have been removed. 

Homepage         Login            Sign-Up         Forum        Toys & Products        About Us           

Daycare.com a Resource for Parents and Providers