What is the purpose of the program?
The purpose of the Child Care Regulation program is to ensure a healthy and safe environment for children in child care settings and to improve the quality of care through regulation and consultation. The program ensures that licensing requirements are met through on-going inspections of child care facilities and homes, thereby preventing the continued operation of substandard child care programs.
What types of child care providers are regulated?
The program regulates licensed child care facilities, licensed family day care homes, licensed large family child care homes, and licensed facilities for the mildly ill. The program also registers family day care homes that operate in areas that do not require licensure.
What are the program's responsibilities?
Child Care Regulation has three primary responsibilities.
- Gold Seal Designations. Child care facilities and family daycare homes who choose to be accredited by one of the 15 accrediting associations approved by the department, whose standards reflect quality in the level of care and supervision provided to children, receive a Gold Seal Designation from the program. Subsidized child care providers (i.e., school readiness and voluntary prekindergarten) may receive a higher reimbursement per child as well as tax incentives through the Department of Revenue or county tax appraiser for participating in the Gold Seal Quality Care Program. Child care facilities that participate in the voluntary prekindergarten program can use the Gold Seal designation as proof they are maintaining the higher standards and accreditation requirements for participating in that program.
- Licensing and Regulation. The program is accountable for the statewide licensure of Florida's child care facilities, specialized child care facilities for the care of mildly ill children, large family child care homes, and licensure or registration of family day care homes. The program is currently responsible for the inspection and liscensure of child care facilities and homes in 62 of the 67 counties as well as registration of family day care homes in those counties which do not require licensure. The other five counties (Broward, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Sarasota) have elected to regulate licensing of child care facilities and homes at the county level as provided in s. 402.306, Florida Statutes. In addition, the Department of Children and Families uses the statewide screening database, known as The Clearinghouse, which provides a single data source administered by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) for background screening results for persons screened for employment or licensure that provide services to children. Child care licensing staff license and regulate child care facilities and family day care homes that had the capacity to serve an average of 658,910 children in Fiscal Year 2018-19. As part of its regulatory responsibilities, the program conducts on-going inspections of child care facilities and homes, thus preventing the continued operation of substandard child care programs. The program also registers family day care homes that are not required to be licensed or inspected. Registered family day care homes are required to annually submit information to the department, such as the number of children in care, proof of screening and background checks, training completion, and proof that immunization records are current. Registration in 15 counties (Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and Saint Johns) is not permitted as they have local ordinances requiring licensure.
- Training. The program is responsible for training child care provider staff. Statutory required training is offered online and in classroom settings to child care personnel who must successfully pass competency exams to be employed in the child care industry. All child care facility personnel must complete and pass a department approved competency exam for the 40-hour introductory training program. Elements of the training program include child care facility rules and regulations; health safety and nutrition; and identifying child abuse and neglect. Following the completion of this 40-hour training, facility personnel must also complete literacy training, fire extinguisher training, and a minimum of 10 hours of in-service training.
How many inspections are performed?
In Fiscal Year 2018-19, program staff conducted 19,749 inspections of child care facilities and 2,541 inspections of child care homes; 99.53% of child care facilities and 99.77% of child care homes met state standards.
How many provider staff received training?
In Fiscal Year 2018-19, the program provided training to 63,944 child care staff in instructor-led courses and administered 154,495 competency exams.
How are these activities funded?
The Child Care Regulation program is funded as part of the Family Safety Program budget entity.
Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?
A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website
Where can I get more information?
Regulation of Child Care Providers and Licensing of Foster Homes. Report No. 2019-101, January 2019.
The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.
State and Territory Licensing Agencies and Regulations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care, January 2016.
Trends in Child Care Center Licensing Regulations and Policies, National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, 2014.
Coordinated State Early Care and Education Data Systems, National Conference of State Legislatures, October 2010.
Websites of Interest
Department of Children and Families, Provider Search
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care Technical Assistance
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care
Child Care and Early Education Research Connections
Mathematica, Early Childhood Policy Research
National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan and Planning and Performance Measures, which reports the department's performance on external and internal measures for its various programs. The measures allow the user to view performance at both a statewide and geographic region level.
What are the applicable statutes?
Whom do I contact for help?
Child Care Program Office, 850-488-4900
Child Care Training and Credentialing Information, 1-888-352-2842
Background Screening Information Center, 1-888-352-2849