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Standards for School-administered Child Care, Chapter 0520-12-01



Program Organization and Administration, 0520-12-01-.05

  • A Child Care Center must have an adequate budget.  General liability, automobile liability, and medical payment insurances must be maintained on all properties and vehicles owned or operated by the program. 
  • Children’s files must include a complete application, an official immunization record (exceptions do apply), and health history.
  • On-going parent communication is expected.  Programs must provide a parent handbook with the policies, procedures, and the TDOE requirements, chapter 0520-12-01.  It is expected that parents sign for receipt of the policies and requirements, and this would be kept in the child’s file.  All parents shall be given a pre-placement visit opportunity. 
  • Parents must have access to all areas of the center when their child is present. 
  • The parents must receive an educational program regarding child abuse detection, reporting and prevention.
  • A written plan must be in place for the release of each child, this should include individuals who are allowed to pick up the child at the end of the day or any given time by the parent. 
  • Children must be signed out of the program by the legal guardian.  Staff may require to see a person’s identification when releasing a child from the program.
  • Injuries and incidences will be reported to the parent as soon as possible or at the end of the school day.  This shall be documented in the child’s file.
  • Staff records must be kept on each employee that includes educational background, reference checks, TBI check, in-service training, physical exams and performance reviews.
  • If the center provides transportation, the driver should be appropriately licensed, have a drug screening on file, and certificate of CPR/First Aid, there must be liability insurance and the children must have adequate space and supervision.  Transportation provided by the center or under center authorization shall comply with state law.
  • Programs must have the current Certificate of Approval posted where parents and visitors can easily see it, along with the Department of Human Services childcare complaint number and the Department of Children’s Services Child Abuse Hotline number. 
  • No smoking must also be posted in a conspicuous manner. 
  • A copy of the state board rules (chapter 0520-12-01) must be maintained in a central space and available to all staff and parents. 

Program Operation (Supervision), 0520-12-01-.06

  • Careful supervision of each group is expected at all times and suited appropriately for each age grouping. 
  • Adult: child ratios and group sizes must be followed.


Single-age grouping chart:



GROUP SIZE            

ADULT: CHILD RATIO             

Infant (6wks-12 m)            



Toddler (11m-23m)



Two (2) years old



Three (3) years old



Four (4) years old



VPK, 619, PDG




Multi-age grouping chart:



GROUP SIZE             


Infant – 18 months        



18 – 36 months



3 – 4 years old only



3 – 6 years old*



*Not including first grade children

  • Group sizes must be maintained in the classroom, but classes may combine while outdoors, in common dining areas, or common napping areas. 
  • Each group must have their own space.  Infants cannot be group with children older than 30 months; a separate area must be provided for infants and toddlers. 
  • At naptime, ratios may be relaxed for groups (except for infants and toddlers). 
  • A written playground supervision plan is required.
  • Field trips requires adult:child ratios to be doubled.  Swimming has a separate ratio chart and the life guard is not included in the ratio. 


Staff, 0520-12-01-.07

  • All programs must have a director and enough teachers and staff to meet the required ratios for adequate supervision. 
  • Staff must be physically, mentally and emotionally stable to work with children and have knowledge of early childhood behaviors and development. 
  • Preschool directors, teachers and assistant teachers must be 21 years of age.
  • All new staff must complete 2 hours of orientation before assuming duties and receive annual instruction in early childhood topics that are required in this chapter section.
  • The program must maintain written documentation that each employee has read the full set of all applicable rules.
  • A copy of the entire rules must be maintained and readily accessible to all employees. 
  • All staff must have a criminal background check upon hiring and must be cleared before assuming duties.  A new fingerprint sample is required every 5 years for all employees. 
  • A director shall be responsible for the day-to-day operations, shall be physically present in the facility for at least half the hours of operation, be at least 21 years of age, and follow the qualification guidelines listed in this chapter section. 
  • An assistant director may be designated in charge when the director is absent. 
  • All directors, assistant directors, teachers, assistant teachers, and other staff working directly with the children must have 30 hours of professional development training. At least 6 hours of this professional development must be in developmentally appropriate literacy practices. 


Program, 0520-12-01-.09

  • Educational activity must be developmentally appropriate for the age and ability of the children enrolled.  (See TN-ELDS for Birth-48 Months and TN-ELDS for 48 month-Kindergarten) 
  • Any technology used by the children must be reviewed by staff, approved by parents, and shall not exceed 2 hours per day.
  • Children shall not be left in restraining devices (swings, car seats, high chairs, etc.) for periods longer than 30 minutes.
  • Children should have opportunities to play together and also alone when they choose to do so. 
  • Personal safety must be taught each year for children ages 3 through school age. 
  • Outdoor play must be provided for all ages who are in care for more than 3 daylight hours, weather permitting (temp ranges 32-95 degrees). 
  • Behavior management and discipline must be reasonable and age appropriate.  Spanking or other corporal punishment is not allowed.  Timeout must be based on the age of the child and take place in an appropriate location. 
  • Children shall not be in care for longer than 12 hours in a day. 
  • Routines such as snack, meals, and res shall occur at approximately the same time each day. 


Health and Safety, 0520-12-01-.10

  • A first aid kit must be on the premises and a comprehensive first aid chart or list must be available. 
  • There must a staff member present at all times who has a current certification in CPR and first aid training. 
  • A written plan to protect children during disasters is required.  Drills must be practiced and documented each month.  At least one drill must be practiced during extended care hours. 
  • Smoking and the consumption of alcohol are not allowed on the premises of a child care program. 
  • Firearms are not allowed on the premises or in a vehicle used to transport children. 
  • Kitchen knives or other potentially hazardous tools must be kept inaccessible to children. 
  • Staff’s personal belongings must be kept inaccessible to children.
  • Emergency contact numbers must be listed and posted near all telephones. 
  • Conduct regular morning health checks of each child and notify parents immediately when a child is sick or injured.
  • Medication may not be given to any child without the written consent of the parent/guardian. 
  • Safe sleep practices for infants must be followed: 
    • Infants places on their back to sleep, in a crib or pack ‘n play with only the sheet.  Soft bedding for infants is not allowed.
    • No swaddling or wrapping in a blanket.
    • Infants must be touched by a teacher every 15 minutes to check breathing and body temperature.
    • Infant room teachers must have SIDS and safe sleep training before reporting for duty. 
  • Hand washing and diapering procedures must be followed to minimize the spread of germs in the classrooms. 
  • Developmentally appropriate equipment that is in good repair and easily cleaned is required.  All manufacturer’s safety instructions must be followed.
  • Electrical cords and outlets should be inaccessible to the children. 
  • Children must have a place to store their belongings that minimizes the spread of germs. 
  • Each child must have their own napping equipment (2” thick mat or cot; sheet or cover for the mat; and a coverlet for their body)
  • All staff must report reasonable suspicions of child abuse to DCS hotline number or local law enforcement.  Annual training for this is required. 


Food, 0520-12-01-.11

  • Children will receive meals based on the amount of hours spent in the program. 
  • Food should not be forced or withheld from children. 
  • Infants must be held while bottle feeding and bottles may not be heated in the microwave.
  • Special diets and instructions must be provided in writing.   
  • A menu must be posted each week.  Changes to the meal must be documented before the meal occurs. 
  • Teachers and children must wash hand when handling and eating food. 
  • All eating surfaces must be washed with soapy water and sanitized before eating and after eating. 
  • Children must be seated at appropriately sized tables and adults must closely supervise them while eating. 
  • Milk must be placed in the refrigerator immediately after it is served.  All formulas remaining in bottles after feeding must be discarded.
  • Highchair manufacturer’s restraints must be used.
  • Food must be properly handled and stored to protect from it contamination.
  • Milk and perishable food must not sit on the table longer than 15 minutes before being served. 


Physical Facilities, 0520-12-01-.12

  • All facilities must pass an annual fire inspection and health inspection. 
  • A working telephone is required. 
  • A minimum of 30 square feet of usable indoor play space for each child is required. 
  • The area must be clean and safe for the children to use.
  • A minimum of 50 square feet per child is required outdoors. 
  • The outdoor area must be fenced.
  • Outdoor play equipment must be age appropriate for the group of children.
  • Outdoor equipment must be placed to avoid injury and have a proper amount of resilient surfacing material to cushion a fall. 
  • The outdoor playground must be properly maintained with a written playground maintenance plan.  A pre-play inspection is required before children play outdoors. 
  • Drinking water shall be provided in all occupied rooms.
  • Adequate temperature must be maintained in all classrooms. 
  • Classroom pets must be kept in a clean cage and kept away from food storage or food preparation areas. 


Transportation, 0520-12-01-.13

  • All transportation laws must be followed at all times and are defined in State board of education Pupil Transportation Rule 0520-01-05-.01 (2). 
  • Liability insurance coverage is required on all vehicles.
  • 15 passenger vans are strictly prohibited. 
  • Proper child passenger restraints are to be used when transporting children in passenger vehicles. 
  • All school bus drivers must be properly licensed, have received a background check through the department, complete an annual physical and mental exam, complete annual school bus driving training, and complete CPR certification. 
  • Adult monitors in addition to the driver may be needed to properly supervise children while in route.  
  • Passenger logs must be kept and inspection of vehicles at the end of the route is required to insure no child is left inside.


Care of Children with Special Needs, 0520-12-01-.14

  • When children with special needs are enrolled, all reasonable and appropriate efforts shall be made to provide those children equal opportunity to participate in the same program activities as their peers.
  • Adaptations to the environment shall be directed toward normalizing the lifestyle of the child with a disability by helping him/her become independent and develop self-help skills.
  • The program shall inform parents of any specialized services available from the program, and if the program is aware of any specialized services available through third parties, shall additionally inform the parent of such services.
  • Governing agency shall develop policies and procedures, in accordance with 0520-01-09-.23, governing personnel authorized to use isolation and restraint, training requirements and incident reporting procedures.


School-Age Before and after School Programs 0520-12-01-.15

  • All staff shall be 18 years of age.
  • Professional development training hours are required: 18 hours for directors and 12 hours for staff. 
  • Ratio for Kindergarten-12 years old is 1:20 and for 13 years and older is 1:30.
  • Ratio and group size requirements when pre-k is enrolled in the program


Group Size

Adult: Child Ratio

Including 3 year olds


Including 4 year olds







                                        (NASHVILLE AREA)  615–313-4820