The Licensing Branch of MSDE's Office of Child Care is directly responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with child care licensing regulations. By conducting regular inspections of child care programs and providing technical assistance and consultation to child care providers on compliance-related issues, Licensing Branch staff help providers achieve and maintain compliance. However, when a child's health or safety may be placed at risk because a provider cannot or will not comply with licensing regulations, an enforcement action against the provider's license may become necessary. This action may include suspension or revocation of the license.
Each enforcement action is initiated at the OCC regional licensing office level by the regional manager, who submits a recommendation concerning the type of action and the reason for it. The recommendation is evaluated for appropriateness by the statewide manager of the Licensing Branch. It is also evaluated by OCC's Legal Enforcement Unit to determine if it is supportable under regulations; whether it is based on competent evidence; and whether the action is consistent with previous enforcement actions that have been taken.
An enforcement action may also include an intermediate sanction (for example, a limitation on program capacity or the ages of children that may be served). This kind of action is typically used when there is a significant compliance problem, but the situation does not warrant a license suspension or revocation. Intermediate sanctions allow providers to continue to operate and provide child care to the community with structured provisions for the achievement of full compliance with regulations.
Examples of reasons for enforcement actions include: multiple regulatory violations; child physical and sexual abuse; neglect; criminal histories; drug and alcohol abuse; noncompliance with zoning laws; fire code violations; and illegal child care.
Child care providers have the right to appeal enforcement actions taken by the Office of Child Care. The appeal process is started when a provider submits a "Request for Hearing" form (PDF) to OCC. OCC's Legal Enforcement Unit then contacts the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to schedule an appeal hearing. The Legal Enforcement Unit represents OCC in all appeal hearings heard by OAH.
For family day care homes, regulations governing the appeal process are set forth at COMAR 13A.15.14. For child care centers, the applicable regulations are found at COMAR 13A.16.18. For letter of compliance facilities, the applicable regulations are found at COMAR 13A.17.16. And for large family child care homes, the applicable regulations are found at COMAR 13A.18.15.