What is the difference between regulated and unregulated child care?

Regulated child care means that the caregiver has been licensed by the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of Child Care (OCC). In order to be licensed, child care providers must meet minimum health, safety and program requirements including the following:

  • The child care facility must pass an inspection to show that it is safe, clean and appropriate for child care.
  • There must be an adequate supply of safe and age-appropriate activity equipment and materials for children.
  • The caregiver and program staff must undergo criminal background checks, child abuse and neglect clearances, physical examinations and have substantial training in child care.
  • For added protection, the Office of Child Care checks the Sex Offender Registry to ensure that registered sex offenders are not working in a child care facility.

Only regulated care guarantees that the minimum legal requirements are met. Ask to see a child care provider’s license or certificate of registration to show that they are regulated. Using unregulated care can be dangerous and put children at risk because the provider has not met the health, safety and professional standards required of regulated providers.