Guide: Day Care

March 10, 2010 

Public and private organizations and individuals offer day care. In addition, public schools and organizations such as the YMCA offer after-school care. Check with your child’s school for after-school care programs. There are several resources that can help you to find reputable, licensed day care for your child.


The N.C. Division of Child Development has a record of all licensed providers in the state. It also has a North Carolina Star Rated License system. (Religious-based providers don’t receive star ratings.) One star is given for providers who meet the minimum licensing standards. Providers can voluntarily apply for two to five stars. For information visit N.C. childcare.

Operation Regulations

The N.C. Division of Child Development regulates day care in North Carolina. All providers with two or more children who aren’t related and are providing care at least four hours a day should be licensed. There are two categories of day care:

  • Family Child Care Home, which has five or fewer preschool children and three or fewer school-age children.
  • A Child Care Center has more than five preschool children in a nonresidential setting. The number of children allowed is based on the facilities and equipment provided. There are some exemptions to the licensing requirement. For a list visit N.C. child care licensing requirements.

Reporting Complaints

Call the N.C. Division of Child Development at (800) 859-0829 or (919) 662-4499. Ask to speak with someone in the Intake Unit. Calls can be made anonymously. For further details visit child care complaints.

Opening an In-Home Child Care

Contact the N.C. Division of Child Development to request a Family Child Care Home Application Packet. Call (800) 859-0829 or (919) 662-4499. There is no cost for the application packet. It contains age and education requirements, an operator checklist, application forms and a printed materials order form.

N.C. child care requirements.

North Carolina Childhood laws and rules

In addition, a public file is available for every licensed Family Child Care Home and Child Care Center in North Carolina. Call (800) 859-0829 to request a file, or stop by the main office in Raleigh, 319 Chapanoke Road, or see N.C. child care research.

Related information

N.C. Smart Start

N.C. Child Care

Family Child Care Assocition

Day Care Match

Child Care Aware

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