Food Safety Regulations for Childcare Programs: State Agency Perspectives


Regulations for childcare facilities vary greatly in terms of licenses, services provided, times of operation, and type of care offered. Food safety regulations are determined by each state and they can differ depending on the type of childcare operation (childcare centers and in-home operations). Determining differences between food safety regulations for childcare centers and in-home operations is important to establish food safety education and training needs specific to each setting. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to identify food safety regulations of both center and in-home childcare operations through a questionnaire distributed to personnel responsible for the Child and Adult Care Food Program in each of the 50 states. A total of 41 representatives from 29 states completed the questionnaire. Different state agencies and personnel were involved in the regulation and licensing of childcare facilities. Personnel from most states reported having different opening requirements and food safety regulations between childcare centers and in-home childcare operations. The difference reported most often was the requirement for childcare centers to follow public state and local food safety regulations, while in-home operations are not required to follow these regulations. In-home operations are subject to licensing standards alone—or they have no regulations at all—in most of the responding states. However, similar food safety concerns and needs for education and training were reported for centers and in-home operations. Results from this study are intended to inform the future development of food safety education and training materials for childcare facilities.

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This research was conducted by Kansas State University on behalf of the Center for Food Safety in Child Nutrition Programs and was funded in part by the United States Department of Agriculture. The contents of this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Agriculture nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.


The United States Department of Agriculture funded this study in part (Grant No. FS-CE-15-KS-01).

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Correspondence to Paola Paez.

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Paez, P., Alcorn, M. Food Safety Regulations for Childcare Programs: State Agency Perspectives. Early Childhood Educ J 47, 53–61 (2019).

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  • Childcare operations
  • Food safety
  • Childcare food safety regulations
  • Child nutrition programs
  • Childcare center operations
  • In-home childcare operations