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Our Mission

The mission of the NC Department of Health and Human Services is, in collaboration with our partners, to protect the health and safety of all North Carolinians and provide essential human services.

Our History

North Carolina boasts one of the highest rates of working mothers with young children in the nation, making the availability of quality child care essential for the State's economic development and stability. The creation of the Division in 1993 reflected the growing importance of child care to North Carolina families and the role of the state in ensuring quality standards and access for families to child care services. The creation of a quality rating system for child care licenses promoted higher quality and more informed choices or families.

1971. North Carolina's first child day care licensing law was passed. As a result, the North Carolina Department of Administration, Office of Child Day Care Licensing was created.

1985. The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that consolidated the Office of Child Day Care Licensing and the NC Department of Human Resources, Office of Child Day Care Services. This consolidation led to the creation of the Child Day Care Section, which was housed in the NC Division of Health Service Regulation (formerly Division of Facility Services) under the NC Department of Human Resources.

1993. The Child Day Care Section and some other parts of the Department of Human Resources (now referred to as the Department of Health and Human Services) agencies were reorganized into the Division of Child Development which has now become the Division of Child Development and Early Education (the Division).

1999. The Division implemented a new five-level Star Rated License for child care facilities based on achieving higher voluntary standards than the minimum requirements for licensure.

2005. The Star Rated License was revised to give parents the best indication of quality, awarding the star rating on the basis of staff education and program standards, and requiring higher compliance with licensing rules as a minimum standard.

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Our Organization

The Division is the result of a longstanding commitment by the state of North Carolina to protect and serve its young children. The mission of the Division is performed by various organizational units that work together, each sharing in the overall responsibility of the agency. The responsibilities for these units are provided below:

    Director's Office, 919.527.6530

    The Director's Office is responsible for managing all personnel within the division; reviewing research on early childhood development issues; responding to requests from the public; preparing and presenting information and data about activities within the agency; and acting as a conduit between the Division's units to ensure the effective coordination of services. The Director's office focus is on our customers: our employees, children, parents, providers, and our partners in delivering services to the public. The following offices are under the Director's Office umbrella:

      Licensing Enforcement Section

    • Oversees the administrative actions taken by the Division
    • Works in collaboration with the Division's attorney on hearings regarding administrative actions and negotiation of settlement agreements

    • Policy Unit

    • Researches and analyzes agency policies and procedures for consistency and to increase child care quality
    • Coordinates Child Care Commission rulemaking, legislative tasks, federal block grant projects, website content, and all division communication
    • Provides support for the Division Director by researching ways to improve child care quality, communicating with strategic partners, and creating presentations
    • Manages the federal Child Care Development Fund plan
    • Manages contracts and grants supporting child care resource and referral services, professional development, workforce support, and general child care quality improvement and evaluates outcomes from division contracts to support overarching goals for child care quality

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    Administration Section, 919.527.6510

    The Administration Section supports the rest of the Division by helping with implementation of programs and policies. Key responsibilities include:

    • Preparing and managing the budget
    • Purchasing equipment and supplies
    • Developing and monitoring contracts and financial reports
    • Designing and support of information systems to support policy and programmatic functions
    • Maintaining all automated office support systems
    • Developing administrative procedures that support the safe and smooth functioning of the Division

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    Child Care Workforce Standards Section, 919.527.6600

    The Workforce Section focuses on the individual staff working (or planning to work) in child care across North Carolina. The section promotes and assures the education/training requirements of individual providers and the prevention of harm to children in group care via criminal record checks of staff working in all facilities regulated by the Division. In addition, the section supports a variety of programs to assist individuals in meeting staff requirements. Key responsibilities include:

      Education/Training Unit

    • Developing and maintaining credential requirements for the North Carolina Early Childhood Credential, the North Carolina Administration Credential (three levels), the Family Child Care Credential and the School-Age Credential Program(s) and assessing additional post secondary coursework
    • Coordinating with Early Educator Certification to support the education component of child care facility licensing
    • Improving safety and well-being of children in child care centers and family child care homes through in-service training

    • Department of Health and Human Services Criminal Record Check Unit

      Most criminal record check functions were consolidated within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 2005 and housed in the Workforce Section at the Division. The DHHS Criminal Record Check Unit performs state and federal criminal record check functions, including but not limited to the sex offender database, for applicants involved in:

    • Adoption
    • Child Care
    • EMS
    • Foster Care
    • Long Term Care
    • Employees of the 33 DHHS agencies, schools and facilities

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    Regulatory Services Section, 919.527.6640

    The Regulatory Services Section monitors and licenses all child care programs in North Carolina. Key responsibilities include:

    • Assuring a safe and healthy child care environment in licensed Child Care Centers and Homes
    • Promoting the overall availability of child care
    • Increasing the availability of child care that meets higher than minimum licensing standards
    • Increasing the amount of information provided to the public regarding child care arrangements and children's needs
    • Monitoring child care arrangements for compliance with requirements
    • Investigating complaints about child care arrangements, including reports of child abuse or neglect, and taking appropriate action
    • Investigating reports of illegal operations
    • Issuing licenses and other operating permits to child care arrangements
    • Providing technical assistance and training to child care providers, potential providers and local agencies
    • Providing consumer education and increasing parent outreach efforts by making information about North Carolina child care providers available on the Internet through the Division's Facility Search Site

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    Subsidy Services Section, 919.527.527.6590

    The Subsidy Services Section increases access to child care for low income families in North Carolina by managing and providing oversight for the Subsidized Child Care Program. This includes the development and issuance of policy to local purchasing agencies that administer the subsidy program at the county level. Key responsibilities include:

    • Allocating state and federal funds to local purchasing agencies
    • Ensuring program integrity through providing training, technical assistance, policy clarification and monitoring for county staff in all 100 counties that are charged with implementing the Subsidized Child Care Program
    • Responding to requests for information related to child care subsidy from customers, the news media, and other states
    • Producing and maintaining statistical data related to child care services in North Carolina
    • Facilitating advisory groups and committees on topics related to child care services
    • Maximizing funding and all available resources with key stakeholders to serve low-income families and their children
    • Providing leadership in the development and improvement of technology used in the delivery of the Subsidized Child Care Program

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Our Accomplishments

   Frequent advisor to other states on child care licensing and subsidy policies and systems

   Continuously conduct rulemaking to improve outcomes for children

   In 2010, formed the North Carolina Professional Development Advisory Committee based on regional representation from early childhood professional development planning groups across the state

   In 2010, with the NC Institute for Child Development Professionals, established and implemented Early Educator Certification, advancing the professionalism of the child care workforce

   In 2009, formed the North Carolina Quality Rating and Improvement System Advisory Committee to provide a vision and recommendations for a stronger system

   In 2005, revised the Star Rated License to give the best indication of quality based on staff education and program standards

   2004 finalist for Innovations in American Government Award, a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government

   Supported restructuring of the Child Care Resource and Referral system in 2003, establishing Council leadership, regionalization, core services and special initiatives

   Selected by Working Mother magazine in November 2000 as one of the top six states for child care

   Spotlighted as innovative state by the Southern Institute on Children and Families for innovative subsidy policy

   In 1999, received Innovation in Government Award from the Council of State Governments for Smart Start

   In 1999, implemented a new five-level star rated license for child care facilities based on achieving higher voluntary levels of program standards, staff education, and compliance history

   Recipient of 1998 Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for Smart Start

   Expanded Smart Start from 12 pilot partnerships in 1993 to 83 partnerships in all 100 counties

   Supported the development of early childhood programs at all 58 schools in the North Carolina Community College System



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