Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Department of Children and Families

Child Care Regulation

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 two primary responsibilities.
  • 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 licensure of child care facilities and homes in 62 out of 67 counties. 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 756,053 children in Fiscal Year 2019-20. 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. The     Department has prioritized trauma-informed training and is working with child care providers within Florida to increase this capacity among providers.  

How many inspections are performed?

In Fiscal Year 2019-20, program staff conducted 13,684 inspections of child care facilities and 1,549 inspections of child care homes; 99.7% of child care facilities and 99.86% of child care homes met state standards. Due to COVID-19, no home inspections were performed after February 2020.

How many provider staff received training?

In Fiscal Year 2019-20, the program provided training to 55,132 child care staff in instructor-led courses and administered 143,409 competency exams.

How are these activities funded?

The Child Care Regulation program is funded as part of the Family Safety Program budget entity.
Fiscal Year: 2022-23
Fund Dollars Positions
PROGRAM: FAMILY SAFETY PROGRAM
FAMILY SAFETY AND PRESERVATION SERVICES
1,887,136,239
3,864.00
TOTAL
1,887,136,239
3,864.00

Updates

Early Learning and Early Grade Success. Chapter 2021-10, Laws of Florida, revises statewide governance and accountability for early learning programs by repealing the Office of Early Learning and establishing a Division of Early Learning within the Department of Education (DOE), placing oversight and rulemaking authority with the State Board of Education. Additionally, the law provides for a type two transfer of the Gold Seal Quality Care Program from the Department of Children (DCF) and Families to the DOE and revises requirements to become an accrediting association. For purposes of accreditation under the Gold Seal program, new standards will be based on nationally recognized standards rather than only those established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Association of Family Child Care, and the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation Commission.

Child Care Facilities. Chapter 2021-120, Laws of Florida, requires that after January 1, 2022, all vehicles used by child care facilities to transport children must be equipped with an approved alarm system that prompts the driver to inspect the vehicle for the presence of children before leaving the area. DCF will adopt minimum safety standards for reliable alarm systems and maintain a list of alarm manufacturers and alarm systems that are approved to be installed in vehicles.

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?

Other Reports

Selected Administrative Activities and Child Care Provider Regulation Prior Audit Follow-Up. Report No. 2021-082, December 2020.

The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.

Office of Child Care Should Strengthen Its Oversight and Monitoring of Program-Integrity Risks, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-20-227, April 2020

Most State Offer Preschool Program and Rely on Multiple Funding Sources, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-19-375, June 2019 

State Child Care Actions in Response to COVID-19, Hunt Institute, March 2020

Trends in Child Care Center Licensing Regulations and Policies, National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, March 2020.

State Early Childhood Data Systems, Child Trends, The Early Childhood Data Collaborative, September 2018

Coordinated State Early Care and Education Data Systems, National Conference of State Legislatures, October 2010.

Websites of Interest

National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations

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

Early Childhood Data Collaborative  

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

Performance Information
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?

ss. 402.26 through 402.319 and s. 1002.55, Florida 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 

Website