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Best Practices for Operating Campus Child Care Centers

Alyssa Keehan, Esq., CPCU, ARM
January 2024
Child Care Masthead
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.


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Additional Resources

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): Pursuing Accreditation

NAEYC: Position Statements on Ethical Conduct

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