One of the primary ways to ensure that a daycare has adequate supervision for its children is to review state licensing teacher/child ratio requirements. Each state has strict regulations regarding daycare licensing and the number of children that can be under a single adult’s supervision. Ratios vary greatly based on the age of the children. Teacher/child ratio regulations are in place to protect the safety of the children. When daycare ratio requirements are not observed, daycare licensing representatives follow a prescribed course of action as defined by state law.
The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education developed broad recommended national guidelines for daycare ratio requirements. This group published a document called “Thirteen Indicators of Quality Childcare: Research Update." They found that even though there are research-based recommendations for staff/child ratios, most states have developed their own ratio regulations. The greatest variance, among the thirteen indicators, occurs among the recommended national standards for the ratio and the actual state ratio regulations for daycare.
Typical Ratio Requirements
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states vary greatly in their teacher/child ratio regulations. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education has established recommended guidelines that states can use for determining teacher/child ratios. These guidelines are: when caring for children under one year of age, a daycare teacher may be responsible for three or four children; when caring for children one to two years of age, teachers may be responsible for four to 10 children; and when caring for children between three and five years of age, teachers may be responsible for eight to 25 children. There are school-age programs where teachers are responsible for a large number of children from ages 6-12.
Violating Ratio Requirements
All states have penalties for violating teacher/child ratio requirements. It is the responsibility of each daycare's specific licensing case worker to report infractions. States typically give a warning for a first offense. When a daycare repeatedly violates ratio requirements they are fined, sometimes up to $6000, and will be shut down for a period of time. The closure of the daycare is to ensure that they have enough time to find adequate staffing and fix any other issues. Some states, like Colorado, allow home daycare providers to simply file a form to request an exception be made for ratio requirements.
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