Oklahoma Child Care
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How the State of Oklahoma Licenses and Regulates Child Care

Oklahoma has strong regulations that require most types of child care to have a license. A licensed program must have permission from the State to operate and must meet specific standards. Licensing does not insure quality, but it does set minimum health, safety and caregiver training requirements. The goal of regulation is to protect the safety and well-being of children while in out-of-home care. The Oklahoma State Department of Human Services is responsible for regulating child care. Their information is summarized below. To contact OKDHS Child Care Division directly, use the following link for contact information.

You may link to the Oklahoma standards for different types of licensed child care by clicking here:

Review a Licensing File
Star Ratings
Ratio and Group Size
Caregiver Training
Criminal History Checks
Health and Safety
Unlicensed Care
How to Make a Complaint

Licensed child care programs in Oklahoma are regularly inspected three times per year. Inspections are unannounced. Additional inspections may be made when there is a complaint or to follow-up on a violation.

Review a Licensing File
The licensing inspection files of Oklahoma child care programs are public record. After you have narrowed down your child care choices, call the OKDHS Licensing office in your county for an appointment to view the files in person. A summary for the last two years can be mailed or faxed to you. The file will include inspection reports and a history of any complaints. It will not include confidential information. To locate the OKDHS Licensing office for your county, use this link: www.okdhs.org/programsandservices/cc/lic/docs/requirements.htm

Star Ratings
Oklahoma was one of the first states in the nation to develop a quality rating system for child care facilities. Star ratings are based on compliance with licensing regulations, increased education of caregivers, parent involvement, the learning environment for children and participation in national accreditation systems.

  • One Star programs meet minimum licensing requirements.
  • One Star Plus programs meet additional quality criteria which includes: additional training, reading to children daily, parent involvement and program assessment.
  • Two Star programs meet additional quality criteria or are nationally accredited.
  • Three Star programs meet additional quality criteria and are nationally accredited

Click here for more information on Stars.

Ratio and Group Size
Oklahoma licensing regulations limit the number of children per adult caregiver. The ratio of children per adult is important because it has a direct effect on how much supervision your child receives. Count the number of children and the number of adult caregivers when you visit a child care program. A small number of children per adult is most important for babies and younger children.

Licensing standards also limit the number of children who can be grouped together for care. Generally, children do better in small groups because small groups are usually safer and calmer. So, no matter how many adults are on hand, the total number of children who are grouped together for care is also important.

Child Care Centers    
  Staff-Child Ratio Maximum Group Size
Infants (up to 12 months) 1:4 8
Toddlers (12 -23 months) 1:6 12
Two-year-olds 1:8 16
Three-year-olds 1:12 24
Four & five-year-olds 1:15 30
Six-year-olds & over 1:20 40

Regular Family Child Care Homes     Capacity limit:   
Adult caregiver/s Children under 2 years Children 2 years & over Total # of children
1 0 7 7
1 1 6 7
1 2 5 7
1 3 3 6
1 4 1 5
1 5 0 5
2 3 4 7
2 4 3 7
2 5 2 7
2 6 1 7
2 7 0 7

Large Family Child Care Homes Capacity limit:    
Adult caregiver/s Total # of children Ages of Children Staff-Child Ratio
1 5 Any age 1:5
1 6 No more than 3 under age 2 1:6
1 7 No more than 2 under age 2 1:7
1 7 All age 2 and older 1:7
1 8 All age 3 and older 1:8
1 10 All age 4 and older 1:10
1 12 All age 5 and older 1:12
2 8 All under age 2 1:4
2 12 No more than 6 under age 2 1:6
3 12 No more than 8 under age 2 1:4

Caregiver Training
Oklahoma licensing standards set requirements for how much training caregivers must receive every year. The training and education of caregivers can tell you a lot about the quality of a child care program. Studies have shown that the more caregivers know about how young children grow and learn; the more likely they are to offer a high quality of care. Ask about college degrees and certificate programs like the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA). Programs that have earned higher Star ratings are required to have more hours of on-going training.

On-going Training Requirements

    CPR & 1st Aid 1 Star Programs     Meet basic licensing requirements 1Star Plus Programs 2 Star 3 Star Meet quality criteria above basic licensing requirements
Child Care Centers        
  Directors   20 clock hrs/yr 30 clock hrs/yr
  Teachers x 12 clock hrs/yr 20 clock hrs/yr
Family Child Care Homes        
     Regular Caregiver x 12 clock hrs/yr 20 clock hrs/yr
     Large Caregiver x 15 clock hrs/yr 20 clock hrs/yr
  Assistant x 12 clock hrs/yr 20 clock hrs/yr

Criminal History Checks
Oklahoma licensing regulations require criminal background checks for caregivers. In centers, this includes owners and directors of programs, all caregivers, substitutes and support staff. In family child care homes, it includes all adults living in the home and any assistant caregivers or substitutes. The checks are made by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Health and Safety
Oklahoma licensing standards have many detailed regulations intended to protect children from illness and harm. Here are a few of the topics covered in the standards.

  • The space should be clean, free of hazards, kept at a comfortable temperature, well lighted, and smoke free.
  • Toys and furniture should be clean, safe and in good repair.
  • All children should be up-to-date on their immunizations.
  • Children who are sick should be separated from the group to prevent the spread of illness. Rules for giving and storing medications are followed
  • The program should have emergency procedures and a disaster plan including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, evacuation plans, regular fire drills and tornado drills.
  • Caregivers and children should wash hands often, especially before meals, and after toileting or diapering.
  • Nutritious meals are served to children. Food is stored properly and prepared in a clean environment.
  • Parent's permission is required to transport children. Seat belts and safety seats are used, and vehicles are safely operated.
  • Each child should have their own sleeping space with clean bedding. Babies are placed on their backs to sleep in order to reduce the risk of crib death.
  • There is enough space for children; 35 square feet per child indoors and 75 square feet per child outdoors.
  • Outdoors, there should be shade, and a soft place to land under swings and other large playground equipment. Most programs must have a fenced play area.

Unlicensed Care
Some types of child care are exempt from the Oklahoma licensing law. No license is needed if care is provided by a relative of the child or by a nanny or housekeeper in the child's own home. Programs that operate less than 15 hours per week are not required to be licensed. Programs where children attend on a drop-in basis and parents are nearby in the same building do not require a license. Licensing regulations do not apply to informal arrangements which parents make with friends or neighbors to care for their children once in a while. Be extra careful if you choose unlicensed care because it will be up to you to make sure the care is safe for your child.

How to Make a Complaint about a Child Care Program
If you think there is a problem, make a surprise visit to see for yourself how things are going. Talk to your child's caregiver and try to work together on a solution. If your concern involves a non-compliance with licensing requirements, you may file a complaint by contacting the regional licensing office for your county. Just click on the following link and select the area of Oklahoma in which the child care provider operates. http://www.okdhs.org/programsandservices/cc/docs/default.htm

You may request a follow-up contact after the investigation has been completed.

4200 Perimeter Center, Suite 235, Oklahoma City OK 73112
Toll Free: 888.962.2772 Phone: 405.942.5001 Fax: 405.942.3740
© 2007 OCCRRA