In North Dakota, there is a wealth of childcare professionals and facilities. Providing care for young children before they start school is a vital role, especially for families that are unable to do it themselves. As a childcare expert, you are likely driven by a desire to aid children, and you could even be running your own childcare program or center.
Having a genuine passion for your job isn't the only requirement for operating a childcare business in North Dakota; you must also follow all regulations put in place by the state. Failing to obey these regulations might lead to a cancellation of your childcare license.
It is absolutely critical to follow all applicable regulations, in addition to undergoing inspections and handling complaints. These grievances can frequently arise from miscommunication, incorrect data, or from parents who don't know what's required of daycare centers. If you're a childcare provider or employee and you don't abide by the rules or have the training needed, it could result in the revocation of your license.
If you require assistance defending your childcare license after a complaint or inquiry, the Lento Law Firm can assist you. Our Professional License Defense Team is available to help. Please call us at 888-535-3686 or submit an online form, and we'll be in touch.
Childcare Licensing in North Dakota
In North Dakota, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has an Early Childhood Licensing Unit that monitors and supports all licensed and certified childcare programs. The Licensing Unit is the first organization that you need to contact when applying for a license. It's also the unit that conducts evaluations, receives complaints, and takes disciplinary action against your license, if applicable.
According to North Dakota law, early childhood services are the “care supervision, education, or guidance of a child or children, which is provided in exchange for money, goods, or other services.”
If you provide early childhood services, as defined by North Dakota state law, to more than five children, or more than three children who are under 24 months old, you must be licensed. This licensing requirement applies even if the children in your care are your own children. If you are licensed to provide childcare in the state of North Dakota, you must also prominently display your licenses on your premises so that parents and visitors can see it.
Childcare Staff Requirements
Not only does your childcare program have to meet certain standards, but the staff you hire must have adequate training to work in your program. Some of the requirements concerning childcare staff include:
- Proper ratios of staff members to children
- Completion of an infant safe sleeping course annually if staff members care for children under age one
- Completion of the HHS online interactive training module annually
Failure to follow HHS rules concerning licensing, monitoring, and staffing could result in suspension or revocation of your license. The requirements are different depending on which type of early childhood services you provide, so it's crucial to know what your ongoing license obligations and training are. You don't want to fall behind on meeting HHS standards and end up having to pause operations at your childcare program because your license has been suspended.
Legal Basis for Disciplining Licensed Childcare Providers in North Dakota
North Dakota HHS may revoke a license of any childcare provider for the following reasons:
- The license holder no longer meets the prerequisites for obtaining a license.
- The license holder is no longer in compliance with minimum standards set by HHS.
- The license was issued based on fraudulent or untrue representation.
- The license holder violated HHS department rules.
- The license holder has been found guilty of or pled guilty to an offense that HHS determines harms their ability to serve the public.
- The license holder has been convicted of any offense, and HHS determines that they are not sufficiently rehabilitated.
When deciding whether to revoke a license, HHS has to provide you with a written notice containing the reasons for revocation. You also have the right to request an administrative hearing to appeal the decision to revoke your license. The revocation doesn't take effect immediately, either. For the 10 days you have to appeal, you can still operate your childcare center.
HHS can suspend a license if the owner or staff member of your childcare program has committed:
- Child abuse
- Child sexual abuse
- Child neglect
The license can be suspended, or the accused person can be prohibited from entering the premises of the childcare program, even if there's only a complaint about child abuse that hasn't yet been confirmed.
What Happens If Your License Gets Suspended?
If your North Dakota childcare provider license gets suspended for reasons concerning child abuse and neglect, HHS will notify the parents of all the children receiving early childhood services in your program. The parents of children who are the subject of a child abuse or neglect complaint are also notified.
If you provide early childhood services to a child who isn't a member of your household, it's considered a class B misdemeanor if:
- The services were provided after you were required to register as a sex offender.
- Your childcare license or registration has been revoked, and the decision is final, or you haven't contested it.
- You allow another person who is a registered sex offender or who has had a childcare license revoked to be in the presence of the child receiving childcare services.
Providing Childcare Is Illegal for Some Individuals
It's also a class B misdemeanor to provide early childhood services to a child who isn't part of your household if you have been convicted of:
- Sexual performances with a child
- Human trafficking
- Assault, threats, coercion, and harassment
- An offense against an unborn child
- Sexual imposition
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Corruption or solicitation of a minor
- Luring a minor by computer or other electronic means
- Sexual abuse of a ward
- Sexual assault
- Animal research facility damage
- Child procurement
Dealing with Alleged Childcare Licensing Violations
As you can see, licensed childcare providers must follow many rules and regulations if they want to continue operating their programs. In addition to these rules, you and your staff also have annual training requirements set by HHS, as well as obligatory yearly background checks.
If you fail to meet any of these requirements, HHS cites you for a violation, or you receive a complaint from a concerned parent, it can throw a tremendous amount of scrutiny on your childcare program. HHS may give you the chance to correct any alleged violations with a correction order, but sometimes, it's not possible to make these corrections in the given timeline. When you're unable to demonstrate compliance—which can happen for a number of reasons—it can lead to consequences for you, your staff, and your childcare license.
In 2022, a group of childcare centers in North Dakota received a notice of license revocation from HHS after some violations had been reported and supposedly not corrected. The owner of the chain of childcare facilities ended up stepping down, and another supervisor applied to be the license holder in her place.
If you don't want something similar to happen to your childcare program, you need to act quickly. As soon as you learn about potential sanctions or penalties against your childcare program, call the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm.
What Qualifies as a Childcare Provider in North Dakota?
There are three main types of childcare providers in North Dakota, and all three require a license from HHS. The three types of licenses for childcare providers are:
- Family childcare: Family childcare programs have no more than seven children, with ages ranging from infants to 11 years. They take place in a private or home setting.
- Group childcare homes: Group childcare programs can have up to 30 children, ranging from infants to 11-year-olds, depending on square footage requirements, staffing ratios, and local ordinances. They can either be private residences (group homes) or non-residential buildings (group facilities).
- Childcare centers: Childcare centers can have 19 or more children, ranging from infants up to 11 years old. Programs can be privately owned, for-profit businesses, or non-profit entities and typically don't take place in private residences.
Who Can File Childcare Licensing Complaints in North Dakota?
Anyone can report a concern regarding an early childhood program by contacting the Childcare Licensing Specialist in their county. Also, all of the reports made by a Licensing Specialist about your childcare program are publicly available on the HHS website. Anyone can use the online search tool to see inspection reports of your childcare center, group home, or family childcare program for the previous three years. These reports also include correction orders that have been issued to your childcare program.
Will Telling Your Side of the Story Be Enough?
We've provided assistance to licensed professionals in defending themselves in the past, and we've seen that it's not always enough to simply provide your side of the story to exonerate yourself. If you're personally accused of something, you can make your case, but you're ultimately subject to the rules and procedures of DHS. Similarly, if your childcare facility is in danger of losing its license, speaking the truth alone may not be enough to avoid any sanctions.
When it comes to the well-being of kids, HHS usually takes allegations of violations seriously. All complaints and accusations are examined carefully and thoroughly. The central concern of HHS is to take care of the matter as quickly and effectively as possible.
Although you may have spoken honestly, the ruling concerning your childcare provider license may not necessarily be accurate. HHS can be negligent in conducting a proper investigation, which leads to a faulty ruling. The agency also has a tendency to favor the complainant over you and may disregard evidence that could be advantageous to your case. These factors can all contribute to an erroneous, unjust decision.
If you are a childcare provider in Rhode Island, it's important to remember that any misunderstanding or disagreement with a parent could result in the suspension or revocation of your license. The Lento Law Firm is devoted to making sure you receive a fair hearing and the chance to protect yourself. We will do our best to achieve the ideal solution for you.
Potential Sanctions for Childcare Providers in North Dakota
If you do not meet the requirements for licensed or registered childcare providers in North Dakota, you could face serious sanctions from HHS, including fiscal sanctions, license suspension, license revocation, and injunctive action.
You can be fined between $5-$25 per day for every day that an alleged violation has not been corrected, depending on the severity of the violation.
Your license can have a restriction placed on it, such as restricting an individual from being in children's presence or being limited to working in certain physical spaces in the childcare program.
You may receive a provisional license after getting cited for a violation if you have waived the right to a written statement of charges describing the reasons your unrestricted license was denied and the right to an administrative hearing. Provisional licenses last only up to one year.
HHS can suspend your license if there's a complaint about your childcare program concerning child abuse or neglect. When your license is suspended, it is invalid for a certain period of time.
Your license can be revoked, forcing you to stop running a childcare program in North Dakota. If it gets revoked, you must wait at least one year before you can apply for a new license.
If you violate any of the rules set by HHS concerning standards for early childhood services, HHS can seek an injunction against your childcare program, forcing you to cease operations immediately. You can also receive an injunction if you've been issued financial sanctions and you haven't paid them.
Adjudication Process for Childcare Licensing Violations in North Dakota
The adjudication process for childcare licensing issues in North Dakota has only a few steps.
- Notice If an HHS Licensing Specialist finds that your childcare program has a violation, you will receive a correction order or notice of noncompliance. HHS only issues a correction order when the violation is minor enough that it wouldn't cause a license revocation if left unaddressed. When you receive a correction order, you're given a timeline to address the problem. You also have to notify the parents of all the children in your childcare program that you've been issued a correction order within 10 days of receiving the order.
- Reinspection After the correction order timeline has passed, you will have a reinspection to see if the problem was fixed. If HHS determines that the problem hasn't been fixed, you'll receive a fine. The fiscal sanction stops accruing only when you notify HHS that the violation has been addressed adequately. You have 20 days to pay the fines, or you can request an administrative hearing to contest the fines. This same process applies to notices of license revocation as well. You have 10 days from the date you received the HHS written notice of revocation to ask for an administrative hearing.
- Fiscal Sanctions Hearing If you request a hearing, HHS must give you at least 20 days' notice before the hearing date. At the hearing, you should have the opportunity to present an argument in your favor. You can also consult with an attorney before your hearing to help you prepare. The administrative law judge who presides over your hearing will come to a decision regarding your fines, and this decision is final.
- License Revocation Appeal If you have requested a hearing to appeal a license revocation, a date will be set by the Office of Administrative Hearings. A judge will hear your appeal and either affirm or reverse the license revocation decision.
Your final option for appeal if you don't agree with the outcome is to go to district court and eventually to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Can an Attorney Help with a Childcare Licensing Issue?
Although it may feel like an unnecessary expense, hiring a lawyer is essential if you are a childcare provider currently facing sanctions. Not only could the repercussions of losing your license be dire for you and your income, but they could also have a negative impact on the children in your care. We suggest utilizing our services for the following reasons.
- The sanctions threshold is low. When it comes to dealing with complaints made against childcare providers, HHS typically gives the benefit of the doubt to the accuser until you can provide evidence to the contrary. It's up to you to show that the claims are untrue and that you have followed all relevant laws. For this reason, it's imperative that you come up with a strategy to prevent your license from being taken away.
- DHS has many resources. If you have encountered an issue or complaint concerning your childcare facility, you could potentially be dealing with a representative of the HHS Early Childhood Licensing Unit, or even their legal team if you appeal the HHS decision. You may not have the same resources as HHS, but you can even the odds by finding legal advice. HHS is a huge department with many lawyers and professionals who have a great deal of knowledge about childcare licensing.
- Our team has a track record of defending childcare providers. We have experience working with certified childcare providers, and our impressive track record speaks for itself. We are devoted to working diligently on your case so we can help you achieve the ideal outcome.
We'll take charge of your license defense so you can focus on operating or supervising your childcare facility while the complaint against you is being handled.
How Our Firm Can Assist You
At Lento Law Firm, our mission is to safeguard you from any possible sanctions. If it is unavoidable, we will do all we can to reduce the severity of the outcome for you. You can depend on us for the following:
- Finding the ideal solution to your case: When you come to us, we'll take a close look at your situation to determine the ideal solution. Depending on how serious the charges are, the outcome may differ.
- Investigating your case thoroughly: We will carry out a thorough examination of your case. We don't rely only on external sources for accuracy; instead, we take the necessary steps to check each detail. Having the right proof and witnesses can have an effect on the conclusion of your case.
- Exploring alternative options: We can work together with HHS to come to a solution without the need for a hearing. Sometimes, talking informally with the HHS attorneys can result in a positive outcome for everyone.
- Going with you to proceedings: We'll accompany you to all hearings and conferences with HHS and ensure that you are ready for these events.
- Taking further legal action if necessary: If it comes to it, your best option may be filing a lawsuit. We usually recommend litigation only when you've exhausted all other options for defending your license. Our team can review your situation with you and discuss what would be best for your case.
Our team of attorneys across the nation collaborate with licensing authorities and the lawyers who represent them. We carefully consider all aspects of our clients' circumstances to achieve the most beneficial outcomes.
We Help Childcare Providers Throughout North Dakota
Our Professional License Defense Team helps childcare providers based all over North Dakota, including in the following cities:
- Grand Forks
- West Fargo
Even if you provide professional childcare services in another city in North Dakota not listed here, our team can still assist you.
Call the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm
Securing your childcare license can be hard to do alone. At the Lento Law Firm, we can provide you with the assistance you need. For a discussion of your licensing issue, please call us at 888-535-3686 for a consultation. You can also fill out our contact form, and one of our team members will reach out to you.