How do I see what violations a child care center has had in the past?

In many states, state licensed child care providers are required to have licensing inspections each year. However, the number of required inspections depends on the state. The results of the licensing inspections are public information. In some states, parents can view inspection reports online. In other states parents must contact their local licensing office for that information.

You can see if your state has online inspection reports by using our State by State Resource Map. Click on your state in the drop-down box to the right and click “Search Now.” Look under the Child Care category for the Inspection Reports resource. If your state or region posts inspection reports online, the link will take you to a tool to search for child care providers. On each provider listing, you should be able to see the program’s licensing status and inspection history. Many inspection reports allow you to see what violations and complaints, if any, a child care program has had in the past. Other reports may simply show which regulation was cited and when the issue was corrected.

If your state does not post inspection reports online, you can contact your state child care licensing office to request a copy of a provider’s inspection and complaint history. The licensing phone number or a list of local offices will be listed on our State by State Resource Map. Look under the Child Care Licensing resource for your state. You also may contact licensing if you have questions about an inspection report online. Keep in mind that they may not be able to share information about an ongoing investigation.

When reviewing inspection reports you should look for any violations that would concern you as a parent. For example, excessive discipline and inadequate supervision are two types of violations that may be of particular concern. If there are any other issues you see and consider concerning, it may be a sign that you should look into other child care options. It is important to have a program that you can trust. In addition, look for patterns of uncorrected or repeated violations. Many child care programs will have minor violations. However, providers should always show that they are willing to correct issues quickly for the safety of children in care. You should also keep an eye out for programs with a high number of areas that need correction. You will want to find a child care provider that shows attention to detail and organization in all areas. Child care requirements are put into place for children’s health and safety. Quality child care programs will show a commitment to following these rules to protect the children in care.

Teresa Valdez-Bain, MSW
Writer Associate, Family and Community Engagement
Child Care Aware® of America

Teresa joined Child Care Aware® of America in August of 2010 as a Parent Liaison Specialist with the Child Care Aware® program. In December 2015, she transitioned to the National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement initiative as a Writer Associate. Before joining the organization, Teresa worked to support homeless families and children in Arlington, VA. During her Master’s program, Teresa worked as a School Social Work Intern for the school system in Falls Church, VA and as a Case Manager for a local advocacy group in Alexandria, VA. Mrs. Valdez-Bain earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011.