iStock-1402700314.jpgThe New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Family Development (DFD) administers the New Jersey Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which can help income-eligible parents who are working, in school or in job training to pay for child care.

If you are a child care or early learning program that participates in or would like to participate in CCAP, you must comply with the requirements set forth by the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization (CCDBG) Act of 2014. CCDBG is a law that authorizes the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program. CCDF outlines how federal funds will be used to provide financial assistance to low-income families to access child care. CCDBG has two overall goals: give working parents access to affordable, easy to get child care, and improve the health, safety and quality of child care and early learning programs through more rigorous requirements. These requirements, among other things, clearly define who must be fingerprinted, what kinds of child care programs must be inspected and monitored and requires that all child care programs complete health and safety training. Specific information about the status of a child care program's license and whether any complaints have been filed are made public online. 
In addition to all the requirements required by CCDBG, child care providers who are interested in participating in CCAP are required to be licensed or registered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Office of Licensing (OOL) or approved by the DHS/DFD. This includes child care centers, school‐based programs, summer youth camps and home-based providers, such as family child care providers and approved homes. All programs that are license exempt, such as public and charter school or faith-based organizations, must become licensed and must comply with CCDBG requirements in order to receive payments through CCAP. 

Providers must comply with the following federal requirements:

Comprehensive Criminal Background Checks

Under the law, all staff must undergo a comprehensive criminal background check.

Comprehensive criminal background checks include:

  • Search of the state criminal and sex offender registry in the state where the staff member resides and each state where the staff member has resided for the past five years;
  • Search of the state child abuse and neglect registry in the state where the staff member resides and each state where the staff member has resided for the past five years;
  • Search of the National Crime Information Center;
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint check using the Next Generation Identification (which replaced the former Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System); and
  • Search of the National Sex Offender Registry.

Disqualifying Crimes

CCDBG specifies disqualifying crimes for child care center staff members and volunteers, family child care providers (individuals who are serving children and household members) and license-exempt providers participating in the child care assistance program and their staff.

Disqualifying crimes are:
  • Refusing to consent to the comprehensive criminal background check;
  • Knowingly making a false statement related to a background check;
  • Being registered, being required to be registered, on a state sex offender registry or the National Sex Offender Registry;
  • Having been convicted of a felony, including the following crimes: murder, manslaughter, child abuse or neglect, crimes against children including child pornography, spousal abuse, crime involving rape or sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, physical assault or battery, or drug-related offenses committed during the preceding 5 years; and
  • Having been convicted of a violent misdemeanor committed as an adult against a child, including the following crimes: child abuse, child endangerment, sexual assault, or of a misdemeanor involving child pornography.

Disqualification means that the individual will not be eligible for employment in a child care setting or and will be ineligible to operate as a child care provider.

Compliance with Health, Safety, Building, State and Local Laws

This is demonstrated by:

  • Life/Safety Inspection with Department of Children and Families, Office of Licensing (DCF/OOL);
  • Current Fire Safety Inspection Certificate; and
  • Certificate of Occupancy (CO).

A CO is issued by the town in which the building is located. There are three types of COs:

  • E (Educational) for buildings for children 2 ½ years of age and/or older;
  • I-4 (Institutional) for buildings for children younger than 2 ½ years of age; or
  • A-3 (Assembly) for buildings for school-aged child care programs only (I-4 or E may also be used).

 (For existing buildings used as child care centers prior to the adoption of the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code (before 1977), see N.J.A.C. 10:122-Subchapter 5-5.1.)

Ratio and Grouping Requirements

Child care providers must have a certain number of staff for the number of children you are serving. For example, if you are serving infants, you must have one teacher for four children. Under the “grouping requirements,” a specific number of children by age are allowed to be cared for together. To get all of the staffing and grouping requirements, go to N.J.A.C 10:122 – Subchapter 4 – 4.3 and 4.4.

Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (including immunizations)

Child care providers must meet health requirements around infectious diseases as specified in N.J.A.C 10:122 – Subchapter 7.

Unannounced Inspections

Child care programs will undergo an unannounced inspection every year to see if you are complying with CCDBG requirements as well as state health, safety and fire standards.

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Requirement

By New Jersey law, staff is required to report child abuse or neglect if it is suspected. Staff must be trained on this law.

Health and Safety Pre-Service Trainings

All teaching staff, providers, caregivers and individuals responsible for the direct care and supervision of children must complete the health and safety trainings. The trainings must meet Division of Family Development (DFD) requirements and standards and be documented and on file. New hires must be complete training within two weeks of hire. 
Required trainings include:

  • Health, Safety, and Child Growth and Development/Mandated Reporting: Basic Requirements for Licensing* - covered topics include:
    • building and physical premises safety
    • transportation safety
    • handling and storage of hazardous materials
    • emergency preparedness
    • prevention and control of infectious disease
    • food and allergic reactions and how to respond
    • administration of medication
    • shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma
    • safe sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS) prevention 
    • basic child development information
    • child abuse and neglect
    • discipline
    • mandated reporting
    • child maltreatment 
  • Pediatric First Aid and Pediatric CPR Training (staff/providers may be required to maintain certification to meet state Office of Licensing requirements and regulations)

 *This training has evolved over the years, if you took any of the trainings by Better Kid Care you have satisfied this training requirement and do not need to retake this training.

For a list of CCDBG-required trainings visit our Required Trainings page.

If you would like more information federal requirements, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families website.