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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How often is a child care center inspected by the Health Department?

State sanitation regulations require that licensed child care centers be inspected at least twice a year. The Health Department may also make inspections of child care centers upon request of the operator, after receiving applicable complaints, in response to a communicable disease occurrence, upon an ownership change, when a Provisional Classification has occurred, or when renovations are proposed. Other agencies may also make child care inspections including child care nurses for immunization checks, the Fire Department, and the NC Division of Child Development which licenses child day cares.

Q. How many licensed child care centers are there in Mecklenburg County?

There are 507 (July 2010) licensed centers, according to Health Department records. Centers are classified as those providing fulltime care for 6 or more pre-school age children, be it in a residence or commercial setting. This number does not include family child care homes, normally found in a private residence, licensed for fulltime care of 5 or less pre-school age children.

Q. Who issues a license to the child day care?

The N.C. Division of Child Development has the statutory authority to register and issue licenses to day care homes and centers. Before such licenses are issued, child care operators must normally meet all applicable health. fire, and building standard regulations.

Q. Who do I contact about opening a child day care?

The N.C. Division of Child Development at 800-859-0829.

The Land Use and Environmental Services Agency (LUESA):

License for 6-12 children = Residential Technical Services 704-336-8984,
License for 13 or more children = Commercial Technical Services 704-336-3829.

Health Department: 704-336-5101. 

Q. What does the sanitation card mean?

The sanitation card that is posted by the Health Department represents the sanitation status of the child care center at the time of that inspection. The amount and type of demerits that a child care center receives on that date determines which of the current four categories the child care center is classified (or scored) as. A ` Superior' or ` Approved' status, for example, does not require a follow up inspection of the child care center until the next routine inspection. A ` Provisional' status indicates significant sanitation violations which require immediate correction and mandate that a re-inspection be performed within a specified time period. A ' Disapproved' status indicates either a failure to correct a `Provisional' status within the specified time period or a considerable number of identified sanitation violations.

Q. How do child care sanitation scores make it on the evening news or in the newspaper?

Inspection reports denoting are public record under N.C. State law. Anyone can obtain a copy of an inspection report by requesting such from the Health Department.

Q. When does the Health Department close a child care center?

The Health Department does not issue licenses to child care centers and therefore does not have the statutory authority to suspend or revoke an operating license. A child care center may operate, under Health regulations, with a Disapproved classification for an undetermined amount of time. The N.C. Division of Child Development (DCD) has the authority to initiate licensure suspension or revocation and works closely with this Department when conditions warrant such action.

Certain emergency or unanticipated events do trigger immediate Health Department response whereby child care centers are strongly encouraged to close for the health and safety of children and/or avoid a potential Disapproved sanitation score. These include:

  • No electrical or water service
  • Ventilation system failure
  • Kitchen out of service
  • Bathrooms out of service
  • Contaminated water supply
  • Flooding
  • Sewage backup
  • Activation of carbon monoxide alarm

Q. Are child care centers required to get permission to remodel a center or replace/add new equipment?

Yes, in many cases. Equipment replacement such as toys, cribs, or office equipment might not require Health Department prior approval, but might be regulated by the NC Division of Child Development . Adding or replacement of any plumbing, electrical, or mechanical fixture or system likely would require Health, Code Enforcement, and Division of Child Development permission prior to approval. Replacement, addition, or deletion of any kitchen equipment or handwashing sinks in a center will always require prior Health Department approval.

Q. Who do I call about concerns, questions, or complaints related to abuse, nutrition, curriculum, or treatment of my child?

The N. C. Division of Child Development at 1-800-859-0829. DCD has a number of licensing consultants who work with day cares in Mecklenburg County.

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