Never assume that a referral, a license, or an accreditation means that a program meets your standards of quality. It's important that you visit and evaluate a program before enrolling your child. We can help you know what to look for.
Licensed and Inspected
Licensed programs are state-inspected by the Department of Health and Senior Services - Section for Child Care Regulation to ensure they meet health and safety standards, staff/child ratios, group sizes, equipment, staff qualifications, training, and other requirements. All complaints are investigated, but only substantiated complaints are placed in the public record. Licensing records are open for public review, by contacting the child care licensing office at 573-751-2450.
- A Licensed Child Care Center is a facility licensed for more than 20 children.
- A Licensed Group Child Care Home is a facility licensed for 11-20 children not related to the operator (allows additional related children). These programs meet the same standards as centers, but may be located in the operator's residence.
- A Licensed Family Child Care Home is operated by an individual in her/his residence, and licensed by the state to care for up to 10 children not related to the operator (allows additional related children).
Licensed Exempt and Inspected
According to state law, center-based programs operated by religious organizations or as a part-day nursery school are required to follow health and safety requirements, but are exempt from following other licensing requirements such as staff/child ratios, discipline practices, and staff training. By law, certain programs are exempt from licensure, but are required to be regulated. These include child care programs that are under the exclusive control of a religious organization and any nursery school program for preschool children that operates no more than four (4) hours per child per day.
Any of these programs could also be accredited by a state or national organization. Typically, a strong interest in quality leads these programs to meet these health, safety and educational standards that are far beyond the minimal licensing requirements.
Exempt Family Child Care Home
A caregiver caring for no more than four unrelated children in their home is not required to be licensed or follow state regulations.
Other Exempt Child Care Programs
By state law, the following programs are also exempt from licensure and regulation:
- A facility operated in connection with a business establishment as a convenience for its customers or employees for not more than 4 hours per day.
- Graded boarding schools, summer camps, hospitals, or other entities as explained in state law.
- Residential facility or day programs licensed by the Department of Mental Health.
- Elementary or secondary school systems.
The Department of Health and Senior Services - Section for Child Care Regulation has more information on child care licensing.
If you cannot find quality child care in your area, or cannot afford child care, you may have other options. Click here to learn more.
Staff at the Child Care Aware® of Missouri Referral Center can also explain the differences in regulations for child care centers, family child care homes, part-day and full-day programs, and after-school programs. Call 866-892-3228 for assistance.