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    Best Practices for Operating Campus Child Care Centers

    How to minimize risks that child care centers on your campus can create

    Child care centers your K-12 school, college, or university operates for children of faculty, staff, or students may provide significant benefits.

    To minimize liability risks, centers must follow state licensure regulations and detailed guidelines experts in the field develop. These best practices will help you develop policies and actions to protect a vulnerable population.

    Examine Facility Design, Maintenance, and Safety

    Consider using the design guide developed for child care centers in federal buildings.

    Include the center in your annual facilities audit. Inspect playgrounds monthly. Establish procedures for these practices and for timely completion of maintenance issues.

    Collaborate with sanitation services to develop procedures for cleaning:

    • Toys and equipment
    • Food preparation and service areas
    • Changing areas

    Properly train care providers on sanitary techniques.

    Restrict access to authorized people. Require visitors to sign in and out. Always supervise them.

    Screen and Train Staff

    The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies recommends conducting comprehensive screening on center employees and volunteers — such as interns — and requiring paid care providers to get state licenses.

    Regularly train employees and volunteers on:

    • Age-appropriate activities
    • Positive discipline
    • Proper boundaries
    • Reporting suspected abuse as state law requires

    Follow the staffing ratios and room capacity guidelines the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. Consider ways to eliminate secluded areas where bullying and abuse could occur. Never let a child be alone with an adult.

    Examine Operations

    Based on children’s ages and special needs, develop procedures for:

    • Admissions
    • Accommodations
    • Emergency response

    In emergency plans, detail response procedures for crises, sick or injured children, and flu containment. Also include an emergency closure policy.


    • Medication administration
    • Temporary exclusion of sick children
    • Communicable disease reporting requirements in a health plan

    Provide the policy to parents.

    Require immunization records and a health clearance for annual enrollment, and require parents to sign an authorization for emergency care.

    Train employees on prompt parental notification of incidents. Also establish procedures for:

    • Sign-in/sign-out authorization
    • Field trips and transportation
    • Back-up child care

    If your institution leases facilities to third-party child care providers, consult with state agencies regarding their landlord responsibilities. Allocate inspection and maintenance responsibilities in the lease.

    Additional Resources

    Healthy Child Care America: Resource Library
    Healthy Child Care America: State Contacts
    National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): Pursuing Accreditation
    NAEYC: Position Statements on Ethical Conduct

    By Alyssa Keehan, Esq., CPCU, ARM, Director of Risk Research. Alyssa oversees the development of UE’s risk management content, ensuring reliable and trustworthy guidance for our members. Her areas of expertise include campus sexual misconduct, Title IX, threat assessment, campus security, contracts, and risk transfer. She previously handled UE liability claims and held positions in the fields of education and insurance.

    January 2012, Reviewed November 2020