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North Carolina Day Care Center / Child Care Centers – What Staff Ratios Are Required When Children Participate in Aquatic Activities / Swimming?

By John Jensen, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


Day care centers in North Carolina and other states provide children with recreational activities like swimming especially during summer months. Children love to play in and around water. Young children often times do not appreciate the dangers of water. Furthermore, young children lack judgment as to their swimming abilities or lack of swimming abilities. As such, North Carolina has set forth specific staffing requirements for staff ratios when children participate in aquatic activities which include boating, swimming, and visits to water parks. North Carolina day care centers are required to have the following staff ratios in place for aquatic activities:

Age of Children Ratio of Staff to Children in Day Care Program
3 to 4 year olds 1 staff member for every 8 children
4 to 5 year olds 1 staff member for every 10 children
5 years and older 1 staff member for every 13 children

Regardless of the total number of children, North Carolina law requires at least 2 staff members for supervision of children participating in aquatic activities. While adhering to these standards is important, compliance with the staff ratio requirements must be combined with good training and diligent supervision. Day care staff members must closely supervise the children around aquatic activities including swimming. Otherwise, children are at great risk for serious personal injuries from drowning or near drowning incidents. You can read more about the staff ratio requirements and other regulations regarding day care aquatic activities and swimming supervision at the North Carolina Administrative Code Title 10 A – Health and Human Services – Chapter 9 – Day Care Rules.

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