OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine adherence to selected recommended safety standards in North Carolina child care centers. METHODS: A self administered questionnaire eliciting information about safety practices in child care was mailed to a randomly selected sample of 409 North Carolina child care centers. RESULTS: One hundred and ninety five usable questionnaires were returned from child care centers in 75 counties. Results indicated that all of the standards included in the state's child regulations were being adhered to by at least 80% of the centers. However, adherence to recommended standards not included in the state's regulations was quite variable, with one standard implemented by less than 5% of the centers. The lowest rates of adherence were found for standards specifying that resilient surface material be used under playground equipment (4%) and that certain foods that may present a choking hazard to small children not be served (27%). CONCLUSIONS: Many hazards not addressed in North Carolina child care regulations are present in child care centers. Some safety standards are not adhered to due to lack of knowledge or limited resources. Inclusion of national standards in state child care regulations appears to reduce, but not eliminate, the likelihood of hazards being reported. Further research should include on-site inspections and attention to safety in family child care.
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