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If a parent, guardian or other concerned citizen thinks that a child care program is not meeting the licensing requirements, a complaint can be made to the Division. Examples of issues that might be reported include:

  • Children not being fed nutritious meals
  • Activities or materials not appropriate for the ages of children in care
  • Staff responsible for too many children
  • Children being left in classrooms without an adult present

The Division will also investigate any reports of child maltreatment. Child maltreatment is similar to serious child neglect and child abuse. The law defines child maltreatment as: "Any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Acts of commission include, but are not limited to, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Acts of omission include, but are not limited to, failure to provide for the physical, emotional, or medical well-being of a child, and failure to properly supervise children, which results in exposure to potentially harmful environments.”

Note: The Division has no authority over areas such as operational policies about payment, hours or days of operation, if a program chooses not to administer medication, or enrollment or termination policies. If you have any concerns about operational policies, please talk to the child care operator.



Documentation of Administrative Penalties

Effective January 1, 2006, following the substantiation of any abuse or neglect complaint or the issuance of any administrative action against a child care facility, the child care operator shall notify parents of children currently enrolled. The notification shall be in writing and shall include information on the nature of the substantiated complaint or the type of administrative action taken. This includes administrative actions that are under appeal with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The operator shall maintain copies of documentation of the substantiated complaint investigation or the administrative action issued against the facility for the past three years in a binder, which shall be accessible to parents.



Complaint Investigation Procedure for Licensing Requirements

The Division offers several ways to file a complaint:
  • Call the Division at 800.859.0829 (In-State only) or 919.527.6500. Ask to speak to someone in Intake Unit (calls can be made anonymously).
  • Fax Information to the Intake Unit at 919.715.1013
  • Email our Webmaster at webmasterdcd@dhhs.nc.gov. A link to this email can be found on our home page/left margin/contact us tab
  • Mail Information to: DCDEE 2201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-2200
When filing a complaint, you will need to have the following information:
  • The name of the program
  • The location
  • Details about the concern
  • Any specific information about individuals involved in the incident
  • Date and/or time the incident occurred
  • Any additional information that you have

Division Investigates

The Division makes an unannounced visit to discuss the complaint with the provider. Dependent upon the nature of the complaint, various aspects of the program will be monitored. For example, if the complaint was about the nutritional content of meals, the consultant would generally visit during lunchtime and review what was being served. Menus from current and previous weeks could also be reviewed, and a discussion with the provider about the program's policy for meals could also take place.


Complaint Resolution

If it is determined that the incident did occur, there are various actions that can be taken:

  • Follow up visits can be made to ensure that the incident is not repeated
  • The provider can submit a corrective action plan that details what action will be taken to correct the item
  • The Division can take administrative action against the program, ranging from a written reprimand, to the issuance of a provisional license, to a summary suspension if there is an immediate and present danger to children

Following the issuance of any administrative action against a child care facility, the child care operator shall notify parents of children currently enrolled. The notification shall be in writing and shall include information on the type of administrative action taken. This includes administrative actions that are under appeal with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The operator shall maintain copies of documentation of the administrative action issued against the facility for the past three years in a binder, which shall be accessible to parents.

If the consultant is unable to confirm that the incident did occur, then the report is unsubstantiated.



Master File Documentation

A copy of the complaint report, and any supporting documentation, is placed in the program's master file, and available to the public for review.



Complaint Investigation Procedure for Child Maltreatment

Any individual who suspects that child maltreatment has occurred, or is occurring in child care, has a legal responsibility to make a report.

The Division offers several ways to file a complaint:
  • Call the Division at 800.859.0829 (In-State only) or 919.527.6500. Ask to speak to someone in Intake Unit (calls can be made anonymously).
  • Fax Information to the Intake Unit at 919.715.1013
  • Email our Webmaster at webmasterdcd@dhhs.nc.gov. A link to this email can be found on our home page/left margin/contact us tab
  • Mail Information to: DCDEE 2201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-2200

When filing a complaint, you will need to have the following information:
  • The name of the program
  • The location
  • Details about the concern
  • Any specific information about individuals involved in the incident
  • Date and/or time the incident occurred
  • Any additional information that you have

Investigations of child maltreatment

The Division employs investigations consultants, located throughout the state, to conduct investigations of child maltreatment in child care. When allegations of child maltreatment are received by the Division, an investigations consultant conducts a visit at the facility to investigate. The investigations consultant interviews the facility administrator, teachers, parents, children, and any other individuals who may have information about the allegations. The investigations consultant may conduct multiple visits to facilities to follow up on the investigation. Additional visits may be conducted for a variety of reasons such as to:

  • Conduct interviews
  • Monitor for compliance with child care requirements
  • Monitor a protection plan
  • Follow up on corrective action

DCDEE has a Child Maltreatment Registry that is a list of individuals who have maltreated a child in child care. Before an individual is placed on the Child Maltreatment Registry, she or he will be given the opportunity to appeal the decision


The law defines a “caregiver" broadly and includes: the operator of a licensed child care facility or religious-sponsored child care facility, a child care provider (as defined in G.S. 110-90.2(a)(2)), a volunteer, or any person who has the approval of the provider to assume responsibility for children under the care of the provider


All pending investigations are confidential.


Complaint Resolution

While every complaint is considered a high priority, the Division defines a major substantiated complaint as one that is a confirmed allegation of any licensing requirement that puts a child in potential harm.


As a result of an investigation, DCDEE may cite violations and issue an administrative action. All violations cited and information regarding whether an administrative action has been issued within the last three years will be available on the Division’s facility search site. If DCDEE determines child maltreatment occurred, that information will be displayed on the Division’s facility search site.


If DCDEE determines that the incident occurred, there are various actions that DCDEE can take:

  • DCDEE can make follow-up visits to ensure that the incident is not repeated
  • The Division can cite violations of child care requirements and require immediate corrective action
  • The provider can submit a corrective action plan that details what action will be taken to correct the violations of child care requirements
  • The Division can put a Protection Plan in place to ensure children are in a safe environment
  • The Division can take administrative action against the program, ranging from a written reprimand, to revocation or summary suspension (if there is an immediate and present danger to children)

Following the substantiation of child maltreatment or the issuance of any administrative action against a child care facility, the child care operator shall notify parents of children currently enrolled. The notification shall be in writing and shall include information on the nature of the substantiated complaint or the type of administrative action taken. This includes administrative actions that are under appeal with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The operator shall maintain copies of documentation of the substantiated complaint investigation or the administrative action issued against the facility for the past three years in a binder, which shall be accessible to parents.


If the consultant is unable to confirm that the incident did occur then the report is unsubstantiated.


Master File Documentation

Violations of child care requirements cited during an investigation and any administrative action issued as a result of an investigation will be posted on the Division facility’s search site and placed in the Division’s public file.


Serious Injuries/Child Fatalities/Child Maltreatment

The Division strives to ensure the health, safety and well-being of every child. However, serious injuries do occur in child care. The Division defines Serious Injury as a wound or other specific damage to the body such as, but not limited to, unconsciousness, broken bones, dislocation, deep cut requiring stitches, concussion, a foreign object lodged in eye, nose, or other orifice, 2nd or 3rd degree burns, and swallowed objects. If a child receives medical attention as a result of an injury/incident that occurred while in child care, the facility is required to complete an incident report, and submit the report to their Child Care Consultant within seven calendar days.


The total number of serious injuries, maltreatment and fatalities that occurred in licensed child care facilities can be found by clicking on the quarterly data link.



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2201 Mail Service Center | Raleigh, NC 27699-2200
919-527-6335 | 1-800-859-0829 (In State Only)

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