Step Three

Take time to look at the stars divider

Licensed centers and homes in North Carolina should have their license prominently displayed. The number of stars on this license tells you a lot about the overall quality of a program.

  • A one-star license indicates that a family child care home or center meets minimal health and safety standards and that the providers have received criminal background checks and have CPR and First Aid training. Family child care homes and Child care centers are monitored annually by the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE). Child care centers are also monitored by local fire, building and sanitation inspectors as well as by the DCDEE. Religious-affiliated programs with a letter of compliance (GS-110) meet the basic health and safety standards of the one-star license, but do not have to meet the requirements for staff qualifications and curriculum and may choose to use corporal punishment.

  • In addition to meeting the minimal requirements of a one-star rating, child care homes and centers may apply for a rating of two to five stars by voluntarily meeting higher standards for better-quality care. To achieve a higher rating, the program earns points based on staff education and program standards, and can meet additional standards to earn one "quality point".  More points equal more stars and a greater potential for higher-quality early care and eduation.

Sample of Star-Rated License

5 Star Sample
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  • Shows the number of stars earned (shaded) out of the number of stars possible (blank).
  • Shows how many points the program earned in each of the two components.
  • Shows the name and physical location of the program.
  • Shows basic licensing information such as number of children, ages allowed and any restrictions.


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Call 1-855-EarlyEd or email

Services supported by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education.

Additional support for services in the Triangle provided by Durham County Government, Durham's Partnership for Children - a Smart Start Initiative, the Town of Cary, United Way of the Greater Triangle, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.