Quality Care Matters

What are “Quality Early Childhood Programs?”

Quality early childhood programs provide experiences that optimize each child’s development, learning and health, engage families and communities in partnerships while cultivating life-long learners and productive members of society.

Quality Care Matters

NH’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

NH has a voluntary quality rating system for licensed child care providers. NH currently has three designations for quality child care: Licensed, Licensed Plus, and Accreditation (accredited programs). Families can use this information to inform their choices for quality child care.


Licensed programs include child care centers and family child care homes. The Child Care Licensing Unit regulates quality based on the following aspects of child care:

  • Ratio: The number of children per adult in a home or classroom
  • Group Size: The total number of children
  • Health: Policies and practices around illness, immunization, nutrition, cleanliness, and preventing the spread of germs
  • Safety: Practices to make sure the environment is safe, both indoors and outdoors. This includes practices around First Aid and Infant and Child CPR training for staff, fire precautions, criminal background checks, etc. 
  • Training, education and experience of the provider: Assures that providers are knowledgeable in child development and other related topics

Licensed Plus

Licensed Plus is a quality rating in New Hampshire. It means that a child care program has all of the practices above and beyond required licensing standards. Programs who are Licensed Plus may be in the process of becoming accredited. To learn more visit Licensed Plus.


Accredited programs have gone through a process of self-study and outside evaluation and have met higher standards of quality child care.

National accrediting associations include:

How to Report a Concern about a Child Care Provider

The Child Care Licensing Unit will investigate concerns/complaints:

  • That are based upon first-hand knowledge or information reported directly by a child who has first-hand knowledge;
  • When there is sufficient specific information for the department to determine that the allegation(s), if proven to be true, would constitute a violation of any Child Care Licensing Rule or Law;
  • Involve an incident that occurred within the last 6 months; or
  • That involves an incident that occurred anytime if the complaint alleges physical injury or abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, or the danger of physical injury to one or more children.

Contact CCLU with any questions about a child care program or if you are not sure if your concern meets the complaint criteria.

Services for Children and Families

DHHS helps individuals and families find and receive assistance through programs including financial assistance, Food Stamps, Medical, Child Care, Nutrition and Community Services.

What to consider when looking for a quality early childhood program

There are many factors families take into consideration including types of care, price, availability, quality care and location. This consumer statement provides families with information on how to support them with making a choice.

NH Child Care Licensing Unit

The Child Care Licensing Unit (CCLU) ensures that children attending NH child care programs are in safe and healthy environments and are provided with care, supervision and developmentally appropriate activities that meet each child’s physical and emotional needs.

The CCLU licenses and monitors seven categories of child care programs: Family Child Care Homes, Family Group Child Care Homes, Group Child Care Centers, Child Care Nurseries, School Age Programs, Night Care Programs, and Residential Child Care Programs.  The CCLU also monitors license exempt providers enrolled to accept NH DHHS Child Care Scholarship.

Monitoring of Child Care Providers

All licensed programs and license exempt providers who are enrolled to accept NH DHHS Child Care Scholarship are required to be monitored by the CCLU. Child care programs are also required to meet health and safety training requirements.

Monitoring Statements

The CCLU provides monitoring inspection reports for each on-site visit to a child care program. This report outlines if there were any health and safety violations and includes action step(s) the child care program took to correct the violation(s).

Criminal Background Checks

All licensed programs and license exempt providers who are enrolled to accept NH DHHS Child Care Scholarship are required to complete a criminal background check.