Day Care Facilities

State Requirements
Any child care arrangement wherein 3 or more children less than 13 years old receive care away from their own home by persons other than their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, 1st cousins, guardians or full-time custodians, or in the child’s own home where other unrelated children are in care, come under the State Of North Carolina definition of child day care. Child day care does not include seasonal recreational programs operated for less than 4 consecutive months (see summer camps).

Child care facilities that keep over 5 children must be licensed by the North Carolina State Division of Child Development.

Child Care Capacity Categories
Child day care facilities are separated by capacity into the following categories which determine applicable requirements and standards:
  • Small home facility: Up to 5 children full time day care and 3 after school children. The operator must live at the house. The house must meet the requirements of the North Carolina Residential State Building Code.
  • Large home facility: 6-12 children. The operator must live at the house. Facility must meet the requirements of the North Carolina Residential State Building Code.
  • Day care facility: 13 or more children. Must meet either educational or institutional occupancy requirements of the North Carolina Commercial State Building Code.
License Inquiries
License inquiries should be directed to the State Of North Carolina Department Of Health And Human Services, Division of Child Development, Raleigh, North Carolina 919-662-4499.

Local Requirements
The Durham Unified Development Ordinance may require that a minor use permit be secured from the Board of Adjustment prior to the operation of a child care facility. Contact the Durham City-County Planning Department at 919-560-4137 for information.

The minor use permit, if required, must be issued before a building permit can be issued.

Site Plan
All child care facilities (other than small home facilities) may require an approved site plan. The site plan must be submitted to the Planning Department to route through the approval process. Contact the Durham City-County Planning Department at 919-560-4137 for information.

Using Existing Building - No Use Permit Required
In cases where an existing building is being used, and no use permit is required, a no-charge building permit must be issued to schedule the required inspection for child care licensing.

Building Modifications
It may be necessary to make modifications to the building to accommodate a change of use to educational or institutional occupancy. All permits for required work must be issued prior to commencement of any renovations. These permits will have a fee associated with them.

Rooms used to keep children under the age of 3 years must have a direct exit to the outside of the building to qualify for educational occupancy. Institutional occupancy requires that the exit passageway from the room to the exit be rated at a minimum of 2 hours.

Plans to Submit
In order to obtain the no-cost or the permit for renovations, 3 copies of a floor plan must be provided to the plans review section, along with a building permit application form, filled out. The floor plan should be drawn to scale or have accurate dimensions of the rooms, corridors, and location of doors and windows provided on the plan.

If you are in doubt as to any of the requirements, contact the Inspections Department for clarification.

After Getting a Use Permit
You must have a copy of the letter of approval from the clerk of the Board of Adjustment and a copy of the floor plan that was presented to the board. This must be submitted along with the floor plan copies and the application form.

If renovations are required, you must secure all necessary permits prior to commencement of any work.

If renovations are not necessary, you must secure a no-cost permit in order to schedule the licensing inspection.

After Getting All Permits
The building inspector who has your particular area will be identified on the paper permit copy you will receive from the Inspections Department. You must schedule the inspection with the inspector assigned.

Be aware that the City Fire Marshal, 919-560-4233, or the County Fire Marshal, 919-560-0660, and the County Health Department, 919-560-7800, must also inspect the facility for licensing. You must schedule these required inspections with the individuals involved.

Be sure to have your licensing package available for all of the required inspections.