Types of Early Learning Providers

Licensed or License-Exempt Centers

Early learning centers may be licensed or license-exempt and are usually located in spaces adapted for early learning purposes. These include stand­alone centers and those located in businesses, apartment complexes, public schools, universities, hospitals and faith-based facilities. Prekindergarten programs (both school-based and non-school-based), Head Start programs, on­site employee early learning centers and faith-based centers are some of the types of centers that are available.

Licensed Centers

Licensed centers must pass an initial inspection to ensure all licensing standards have been met. Licensed centers are also re-inspected to follow up on health and safety standards. To meet the standards these centers must

  • Meet physical facility requirements.
  • Follow health, safety and nutrition guidelines.
  • Maintain enrollment and attendance records.
  • Allow parents/guardians access to their children at all times.
  • Comply with annual inspection schedules.
  • Meet staff and director training requirements.
  • Conduct screening and background checks of all employees/teachers.
  • Document current immunization records and physical examinations for all children in care.
  • Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and make reasonable accommodations for children with special needs.

Religious-Exempt Centers

Some religious centers are exempt from child care licensing. These centers must be an integral part of a church or faith-based school, and must

  • Be accredited by, or a member of, a state-recognized accrediting body.
  • Comply with state and federal background screening requirements.
  • Meet local governing requirements for city or county health and safety regulations.
  • Maintain enrollment and attendance records.
  • Maintain current CPR and First Aid certifications. Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and make reasonable accommodations for children with special needs.

Adult-to-Child Ratios for Licensed and License-Exempt Centers

Ratios represent the number of children that one adult may supervise for each age group. Ratios are regulated by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).

  • Birth to 12 months (1:4)
  • 12-24 months (1:6)
  • 2-year-old children (1:11)
  • 3-year-old children (1:15}
  • 4-to 5-year-old children (1 :20)
  • 4-year-olds in VPK education programs
    • School-year program (1:11)
    • Summer program (1:12)
  • 5-years of age or older (1:25)

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