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Announcements Announcements

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Product Recall Product Recall

Office of Child Care Licensing

The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) has been granted the authority to regulate child care in the State of Delaware by the Delaware Child Care Act.  This act states, “No person may conduct child care, nor may any institution, agency, association or organization conduct child care, unless first having obtained a license from the Office of Child Care Licensing.”  The types of care regulated by OCCL include:

  • Family Child Care Homes
  • Large Family Child Care Homes
  • Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers
  • Residential Child Care Facilities and Day Treatment Programs
  • Child Placing Agencies

The Office of Child Care Licensing has the responsibility to ensure that applicants seeking to provide child care services have met the requirements of The Delaware Child Care Act and DELACARE Rules prior to the issuance of a license. Monitoring of each Licensed Provider continues throughout the entire period of licensure and findings are documented in the Provider record. Monitoring includes: site visits to conduct a review of compliance with DELACARE Rules, investigations of complaints made against a Provider or to follow-up on tips from the public or reports from other agencies or organizations of possible violations of DELACARE Rules. These reports may come from a variety of sources such as law enforcement, Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Probation.

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Selecting Child Care Selecting Child Care

Selecting child care is one of the most important decisions a parent or guardian will make on behalf of their child.  The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) advocates the use of Licensed Child Care Providers.   The National Association for Regulatory Administration has issued a “joint paper” on the issue of licensing all child care.  This “joint paper” is available on this site. OCCL encourages parents and guardians to be educated and wise consumers.  Under the “RESOURCES” heading are many helpful tools and checklists that will provide valuable information about choosing child care as well as other information “you can use”.

Indicators of high quality child care:
Several research studies have found that high quality child care programs have certain characteristics in common. These characteristics can help parents make better child care choices for their children because they indicate a much greater likelihood of high quality care. Quality indicators measure the conditions that generally foster a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children. They are:

  • Low child  to teacher ratios
  • Low teacher turnover
  • Staff with higher education
  • Prior experience and education of the director
  • Well-compensated teachers who receive good benefits
  • Accreditation or a higher-than-minimum license

Questions to ask in selecting child care:

Here are some helpful links that will provide questions and guidelines to use in selecting quality child care:

The first question that should be asked when interviewing someone to provide child care is: “Are you licensed by the State of Delaware?” .  Licensed Providers are required to post their licensee in a prominent place where visitors can view it.  Licenses are issued for a maximum time period of one year.  The effective and end dates of the license are on the license.

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Risks and Disadvantages of Unlicensed Child Care Risks and Disadvantages of  Unlicensed Child Care

Unlicensed Care

Licensed Care

It’s Illegal!

In Delaware, DE Code, Title 31, Chapter 3, Subchapter III, The Delaware Child Care Act, requires a person or entity to be licensed whenever child care services are provided for a fee, on a regular basis and outside of the child’s home for even one (1) unrelated child.

No Background Checks are Conducted!

A licensed provider and anyone living in the provider’s household or staff member at a licensed child care facility, who is eighteen (18) years of age or older, must be fingerprinted for a background check.  This check includes Delaware and Federal criminal history, child protection registry and adult abuse registry search.

No Education or Training Requirements!

To offer child care, a licensed provider is required to have current CPR certification and First Aid along with training in the topics of child development, educational activities, positive behavior management, health, safety, nutrition, families/communities, and professionalism/business practices. Each year additional clock hours of training are required as a part of the licensure renewal process. There are a variety of grants and scholarship opportunities to help licensed child care staff cover the cost of education/training and for resources to enhance or expand the program.

No Limits on the Number of Children!

A licensed provider can only provide child care to a limited number of children in accordance with the type of care provided and as may be limited to protect children.  The maximum number of children in a licensed Family Child Care Home is six (6) children preschool-age or younger and three (3) school-age children.  The provider’s own preschool-age or younger children count toward the number of children allowed.

No Health Appraisal Required!

A licensed provider and his/her household members or staff member will have had a health appraisal from a licensed health care provider to assess for any health concerns that could affect the care of children.

No Safety Requirements!

Licensed child care must meet safety requirements and must have an electrical inspection, fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.  Care will be limited to certain areas of the home or facility.  They must also meet any requirements of the Fire Marshal, Division of Public Health or State, County and Local offices of land management/zoning.  Providers must follow proper cleaning, sanitation, hand washing, food preparation, food storage, and standard precautions to prevent infection and disease.

No Health Requirements!

All licensed child care facilities are required to follow proper procedures for cleaning (sanitation), hand-washing, diapering changing and toileting, standard precautions, first aid, food safety, and napping/sleeping especially concerning safe sleep for infants (Back to Sleep). 

No Nutritional Requirements!

A licensed provider is required to provide or ensure balanced meals and snacks are served throughout the day and can participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to receive reimbursement to help with the cost of food.  Delaware has adopted the best practices in nutrition of any State in the U.S.  Nemours Health and Prevention Services and DOE CACFP collaborated with OCCL on this.

May Lack Insurance!

Licensed centers must carry insurance.  Basic homeowners insurance does not normally offer coverage for the business of providing child care in a home. Although not required for licensure, licensed family child care providers are informed of the need to look into the appropriate “riders” on his/her homeowner’s insurance or extra nsurance that covers the business of providing child care.  Centers are required to have liability coverage.

May Not Be Paying Taxes and/or Allow Parents to Claim Child Care Expenses!

A licensed child care facility has been informed of the obligation to pay taxes and provide parents with the appropriate information such as the yearly amount of child care paid and the provider’s tax identification or Social Security number so that child care expenses can be properly claimed by parents or guardians of children in child care.

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File Review File  Review

It is important to note that the Office of Child Care Licensing’s website “SEARCH” provides only limited information on Licensed Providers .  More extensive information is available to the public through a “FILE REVIEW”.  At a file review the public has the opportunity to review the Provider’s history of compliance with DELACARE Rules, obtain specifics about “substantiated” complaints against a Provider and see if at any previous time a Provider was placed on a “Warning of Probation”, “Probation”, or had a license suspended, revoked or denied in Delaware.

The Office of Child Care Licensing maintains a compliance file on each licensed facility. Each file includes copies of compliance reviews, applications for licensure, and reports of any complaints filed against the facility. These files are available for public review under the Parents Right to Know Act.  If you wish to review a file, you should contact one of the Licensing Offices to schedule a time to review the file. You may contact the Office either by letter or telephone. You will be asked to put your request in writing prior to actually reviewing the file. Should you wish to have copies of documents in the record, there is a per page charge for the copying. The cost per page is $0.25(25 cents).

Providers may object to a notation of non-compliance, conclusions of a complaint investigation, or the decisions by OCCL to issue of a “Warning of Probation”, “Probation”, to deny an application, suspend or revoke a license.  When a Provider does disagree with the action of the Office of Child Care Licensing, the Provider has the opportunity to voice their grievances and submit written objections to the findings and request that their objections and any supporting materials be placed in the non-confidential portion of their record.  This information is then made available to the public.

Contact Information:

New Castle County 

Ellen Linen, Adm. Support Specialist
Office of Child Care Licensing
1825 Faulkland Rd. Wilmington, DE 19805
(302) 892-5800

Kent or Sussex Counties

Naomi Gosch, Adm. Support Specialist
Office of Child Care Licensing
821 Silver Lake Blvd., Suite 103
Dover, DE 19904
(302) 739-5487


Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility.  While the Office of Child Care Licensing has the primary responsibility for monitoring child care it views parents, neighbors, law enforcement, health care professionals and the general public as a partners in this effort.  If you have information that a licensed provider is not complying with DELACARE Rules or unlicensed care is being provided click on the line below:

How to file a complaint against a child care facility

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Early Care and Education - Not Just Babysitting Anymore! Early Care and Education - Not Just Babysitting Anymore!

No longer is child care for young children thought of as “babysitting”. Child care is in a transition process changes the focus beyond providing caretaking.  The accent is now placed on the development of the child in areas that prepare a child to succeed in school and in life.  The trend is partly due to high parent and school expectations; it's also attributable to research that shows that kids are capable of learning early academics and other skills that previously were not taught until later.  Children learn more from birth to age five than any other time in life. During this time, what we do matters and will determine to a large extent the way our children learn, think and behave forever. Considerable research has also pointed to the social and emotional wellness of children as a key to their learning success.  Because of these findings more emphasis is being placed on the preparation of the child care workforce to better be able to address both “academics” and social skills.

Persons providing care are the key to positive outcomes.  While much has been touted about fancy computer learning tools research is demonstrating that such tools do not have the intended effect, especially long-term.  There is no replacement for a caring adult in the life of a child.  A Provider who takes advantage of every interaction with a child to make that a teachable moment is the ideal. Whether it’s preparing a meal, changing a diaper, or helping with homework each of these events presents a learning opportunity.  DELACARE Rules specifically address these kinds of positive interactions. (see How DELACARE Rules Are Moving Quality Forward later in this section)

The Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware conducted a study on child care in Delaware in 2002.  The conclusions of the “Delaware Early Care and Education Baseline Quality Study” became a call to action to change the child care system to better meet the needs of children.

Beginning in July 2003, Delaware launched a statewide effort to coordinate both public and private efforts to achieve common objectives and measurable results for its youngest children. This initiative received funding from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau to assist in development and implementation of the state plan. The Delaware Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative (ECCS) encompasses both immediate action and creating a blueprint, or strategic plan, for Delaware's early childhood system of programs, services and support aids for all children from birth to age five.  The early childhood system is a collaboration of families, programs and services that support children from birth to five year of age as they grow, develop, and learn.

ECCS is an initiative that will better coordinate the services the State of Delaware provides for its children. The initiative is collaborating with other public and private agencies to The early childhood system is a collaboration of families, programs and services that support children from birth to five year of age as they grow, develop, and learn. Early Success focuses on the whole child and his or her family.

Early Success: Delaware’s Early Childhood Plan (revised 2006) provides the road map of how we move forward to improve the future of Delaware’s children.  Early Success focuses on the whole child and his or her family.   It defines the components of a comprehensive early childhood system to support Delaware’s youngest children and their families. When fully implemented and funded, Early Success will provide the necessary programs and resources so that all of Delaware’s children can become successful adults, contributing members of our community, and participants in a global economy.

How DELACARE Rules Are Moving Quality Forward

The Office of Child Care Licensing implemented revised Rules for Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers effective January 1, 2007.  Revised Rules for Family and Large Family Child Care Homes became effective January 1, 2009.  These revised Rules have increased the requirements for training and education of people working in child care in Delaware, delineated age appropriate activities and child-caregiver interactions, strengthened safety requirements and instituted the most comprehensive food and nutrition standards in the Nation.  A complete copy of all the Rules may be found on this website at: .

Recognizing the important role of personal interaction between the Provider and child in the success led to the inclusion of some very specific expectations in DELACARE Rules.  These Rules specify separate programs for infants, toddlers, pre-school children and school-age children.  Each program Rule is appropriate to the development stage of the children.  Activities and materials should also reflect children’s cultures, and communities.  As an example the requirements for pre-school programs are listed here as an example:

Rule # 397, DELACARE Rules for Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers.
“A licensee shall ensure that staff interact with preschool-age children at their eye level, and whenever appropriate, sitting on the floor with the children, providing the following opportunities throughout the day:

A.  Offering frequent face to face interactions with children;
B.  Having conversations with children during play, meals and routine care;
C.  Reading to and looking at books with children individually and in groups;
D.  Using rhymes, songs, and other ways to help children connect sounds and letters and develop other literacy skills;
E. Helping children develop mathematical and scientific concepts through play, projects, and investigations of the Center’s environment;
F.  Supporting the development of social competence through play and cooperative work with other children;
G.  Providing materials and encouragement for more extended and complex pretend play alone and with other children and staff;
H.  Providing varied materials, sights, sounds, and other experiences for children to investigate and talk about;
I.  Providing opportunities for children to walk, run, climb, stack, balance, scribble, draw, write and refine fine and large motor skills;
J.  Responding to children’s words and actions with interest and encouragement;
K.  Giving names to objects and experiences in the children’s environment; and
L.  Supporting children’s development of independence and mastery of skills.”

Providers will now have to meet increased qualifications to provide licensed care.  Time was granted for people already working in Centers or providing Family Child Care to meet qualify for child care positions under the new standards.  There are several providers which already meet or exceed these standards.  Everyone working in licensed child care must qualify under these new Rules by no later than December 31, 2010.  All persons qualifying will be issued a certificate from Delaware First, Department of Education or the Office of Child Care Licensing, Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.  When interviewing Providers you may want to inquire as to how many Staff have qualified for the new child care positions.  Those positions are:

  • Early Childhood Administrator
  • Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator
  • Early Childhood Teacher
  • Early Childhood Assistant Teacher
  • Early Childhood Caregiver
  • Early Childhood Intern
  • School-Age Administrator
  • School-Age Site Coordinator
  • School-Age Site Assistant
  • School-Age Intern
  • Level I Family Child Care Provider
  • Level I Family Child Care Provider – Grandfathered
  • Level II Family Child Care Provider
  • Large Family Child Care Provider
  • Large Family Child Care Assistant
  • Large Family Caregiver – Grandfathered
  • Large Family Associate Caregiver – Grandfathered

Training and education requirements are more specific.  The Rules require training and/or education in the core topic areas of:

  • administration (for those in administrative positions)
  • health
  • business practices
  • child development safety
  • developmental curriculum/educational activities for children
  • nutrition
  • positive behavior management
  • professionalism
  • family and community

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Delaware Stars for Early Success Delaware Stars for Early Success

Delaware Stars Early Success logo Delaware Stars is a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), which is a method used to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care and education and school-age settings.  It establishes quality standards for those programs and provides technical assistance and limited financial support to programs involved in Stars as they engage in quality improvement efforts. Delaware Stars is designed as a voluntary system that expects programs to work on improving quality by moving up the Star Levels.  Delaware Stars has only completed the first year of reviewing programs.  It is not yet possible for all Providers to participate in Delaware Stars.

Learn more about Delaware Stars: 
Description of Delaware Stars for Early Success

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The National Association for Regulatory Administration Position Paper The National Association for Regulatory Administration Position Paper


WHEREAS: all children regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, or social-economic status deserve nurturing and protection;

WHEREAS: children in the care of unlicensed child care providers may experience greater risks to their health, safety and optimum development;

WHEREAS: parents value safe and nurturing settings with appropriate regulations and oversight and monitoring using equal standards;

WHEREAS: licensed providers recognize the value of positive, appropriate regulation and monitoring to ensure protection and stimulate quality;

WHEREAS: equitably enforced licensing regulations provide a floor of protection, assuring environmental health and safety including qualifications and training of teachers and staff-child ratios, age-appropriate activities and furnishings, and a variety of learning opportunities; these factors are recognized as being essential building blocks to achieving quality child care programs that reduce cumulative long-range risks to children’s social, academic and economic success;

WHEREAS: children served in unregulated exempt services do not benefit from the same level of health and safety protection, program standards, staff criminal record checks, qualified and trained staff, staff-child ratios, building and fire code approvals, or licensing staff oversight, consultative assistance and investigation of complaints;

WHEREAS: the cost of adequately and effectively supporting the protections provided by state licensing agencies must be borne by the public;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: The National Association for Regulatory Administration and the National Child Care Association oppose exemptions to licensing laws and regulations because they put children at increased risk of harm.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: These organizations endorse and support appropriate regulations and the benefits of licensing and monitoring of services for children in out-of-home care, including relative care and before- and -afterschool programs for school age children, regardless of who provides those services and where those services are provided.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: These organizations support a realignment of public resources to support additional funding for licensing agencies due to an expanded scope created through the elimination of exemptions.

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Resources Resources

Early Success logo
NCCIC Home logo
Nemours Health & Prevention Services logo 5-2-1 Almost None Banner logo

Family Child Care Homes Will print "brochure-style" on legal-size paper.

Family Child Care Homes Will print on letter-size paper.

Early Childhood Educators' and Family Web Corner Teacher Pages

Family & Workplace Connection  

Large Family Child Care Homes

Birth to Three(Delaware DHSS web site):

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Choosing Child Care" brochure

Child Care Aware

Cold and Flu Learning Center

Criminal History and Abuse Registry Checks

Delaware Early Learning Foundations for School Success

Delaware Central Directory of Services for Young Children with Special Needs, 2004

Early Success: Delaware's Early Childhood Plan [PDF 7mb]

Family & Workplace Connection

Hand Hygiene (AAP)

H1N1 Child Care Guidance

Informative Guide to Children’s Safety Resources

Nemours Health and Prevention Services

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education

National Child Care Information Center

National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Other Infectious Disease Emergencies (AAP)

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Zero to Three (National Center For Infants, Toddlers and Families web site)

Resources for Infant and Family Professionals

Resources for Parents

Stopping the Spread of Germs at Home, Work & School (CDC) ,
Excerpts from "Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide, Second Edition" (Copyright American Academy of Pediatrics 2009).

Child Care Subsidy is a program administered by the Delaware Division of Social Services.  This is an income-based program that provides funds to help parents pay for child care.  For information and/or an application contact:

New Castle County...302-255-9670

Kent County ............302-739-4437

Sussex County.........302-856-5569

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Click box to search for child care providers
Search for Child Care Providers