What are “Quality Early Childhood Programs?”
Quality early childhood programs provide experiences that optimize each child’s development, learning and health, engage families and communities in partnerships and cultivate life-long learners and productive members of society.
NH’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
NH has a voluntary quality rating system for licensed child care providers. NH currently has three designations for quality child care: Licensed; Licensed Plus; and Accreditation (accredited programs). Families can use this information to inform their choices for quality child care.
Licensed programs include child care centers and family child care homes. The Child Care Licensing Unit regulates quality based on the following aspects of child care:
- Ratio: The number of children per adult in a home or classroom;
- Group Size: The total number of children;
- Health: Policies and practices around illness, immunization, nutrition, cleanliness, and preventing the spread of germs;
- Safety: Practices to make sure the environment is safe, both indoors and outdoors. This includes practices around First Aid and Infant and Child CPR training for staff, fire precautions, criminal background checks, etc.; and
- Training, education and experience of the provider: Assures that providers are knowledgeable in child development and other related topics.
For more information visit CCAoNH’s Child Care Licensing page.
Licensed Plus is a quality rating in New Hampshire. It means that a child care program has practices above and beyond required licensing standards. Programs who are Licensed Plus may be in the process of becoming accredited. To learn more visit Licensed Plus.
Click here to view programs that have a Licensed Plus designation.
Accredited programs have gone through a process of self-study and outside evaluation and have met higher standards of quality child care.
National accrediting associations include:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children(NAEYC)-accredits child care centers.
- National Association for Family Child Care(NAFCC)-accredits providers that care for children in the provider’s own home.
- Council on Accreditation(COA) – accredits programs that provide care when school-age children are not in school.
What do Families consider when looking for a quality early childhood program?
There are many factors families take into consideration including types of care, price, availability, quality care and location. This consumer statement provides families with information on how to support them with making a choice. Click here to view the Consumer Education Report.
NH Child Care Licensing Unit
The Child Care Licensing Unit (CCLU) ensures that children attending NH child care programs are in safe and healthy environments and are provided with care, supervision and developmentally appropriate activities that meet each child’s physical and emotional needs.
The CCLU licenses and monitors seven categories of child care programs: Family Child Care Homes, Family Group Child Care Homes, Group Child Care Centers, Child Care Nurseries, School Age Programs, Night Care Programs, and Residential Child Care Programs. The CCLU also monitors license exempt providers enrolled to accept NH DHHS Child Care Scholarship.
Click here to learn more information about the different types of child care programs.
Monitoring of Child Care Providers
All licensed programs and license exempt providers who are enrolled to accept NH DHHS Child Care Scholarship are required to be monitored by the CCLU. Child care programs are also required to meet health and safety training requirements.
Click here to view more information on how the CCLU monitors child care providers.
The CCLU provides monitoring inspection reports for each on-site visit to a child care program. This report outlines if there were any health and safety violations and includes action step(s) the child care program took to correct the violation(s).
Click here to search for the licensing history and inspection reports of a child care program.
Criminal Background Checks
All licensed programs and license exempt providers who are enrolled to accept NH DHHS Child Care Scholarship are required to complete a criminal background check.
Click here for more information on criminal background check requirements for child care providers.
Click here for more information on offenses that prevent individuals from being employed by a child care provider or providing child care.
How to Report a Concern about a Child Care Provider
The Child Care Licensing Unit will investigate concerns/complaints:
- That are based upon first-hand knowledge or information reported directly by a child who has first-hand knowledge;
- When there is sufficient specific information for the department to determine that the allegation(s), if proven to be true, would constitute a violation of any Child Care Licensing Rule or Law;
- That involve an incident that occurred within the last 6 months; or
- That involves an incident that occurred anytime if the complaint alleges physical injury or abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, or the danger of physical injury to one or more children.
Click here to contact CCLU with any questions about a child care program or if you are not sure if your concern meets the complaint criteria.
Services for Children and Families
DHHS helps individuals and families find and receive assistance programs including financial assistance, Food Stamps, Medical, Child Care, Nutrition, and Community Services.