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Home > Frequently Asked Questions on Licensing for Child Care Centers

Frequently Asked Questions on Licensing for Child Care Centers

This webpage is currently being revised. Please note the Department is no longer issuing Child Care Facility Approval letters. Child Care Centers & Educational Facilities required to conduct an environmental review must hire a Licensed Site Remediation Professional and obtain a Response Action Outcome.

FAQ Sections

For New Child Care Centers

  1. What are the current environmental requirements to obtain a new child care center license?

    The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) regulations require applicants seeking child care center licenses to fulfill environmental requirements, by obtaining:

    Please be advised, the Department is no longer issuing Child Care Facility Approval letters. Child Care Centers required to conduct an environmental review must hire a Licensed Site Remediation Professional and obtain a Response Action Outcome.
  2. What is the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) and how does it affect the child care licensing process?

    On May 7, 2009, the Governor signed the Site Remediation Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10C-1 et seq. ("SRRA") into law. The Governor also signed Executive Order #140, implementing the new law. SRRA establishes a program for the licensing of environmental consultants, called Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) who will have responsibility for oversight of environmental investigation and cleanup. Under SRRA, the NJDEP approval is no longer required prior to proceeding with remediation. NJDEP will retain significant authority over the remediation process and will ensure that LSRPs comply with all applicable regulations, but the day-to-day management of site remediation will be overseen by qualified LSRPs.

  3. What is a Child Care Facility Approval (CCFA) Letter?

    A CCFA letter certifies that the child care center's drinking water and play area(s) have been evaluated and reviewed, and that there are no health risks to those at the center. Please be advised the Department is no longer issuing these CCFA letters. Instead, you a Licensed Site Remediation Profession must be hired to conduct an environmental review and obtain a Response Action Outcome (RAO).

  4. What is an LSRP Notification of Retention or Dismissal Form?

    The LSRP Notification of Retention or Dismissal Form is required for the initial retention of a LSRP to conduct investigations and/or remediation at the site. This form must also be used if an LSRP is released as the LSRP of record prior to the issuance of the Response Action Outcome (RAO). The appropriate form must be submitted to NJDEP within 15 calendar days after retention of the LSRP retention, or within 15 calendar days after the LSRP dismissal. Please note this form must be signed by the child care owner/operator and by the LSRP.

  5. What is a Preliminary Assessment (PA)?

    The PA is the process of identifying the presence of any potentially contaminated areas of concern, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:26E-3 Technical Requirements for Site Remediation (Tech Regs). The PA includes an extensive site history, including any known or possible associated hazardous materials and any other relevant information. If the proposed child care center will be located on a portion of a larger property, the PA must be conducted for the entire property, and must not be limited to the lease hold portion. Please see the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation for specific information on PAs, and see the Environmental Evaluation of Child Care Centers Guidance Document at www.nj.gov/dep/srp/guidance/srra. Remember to submit all appropriate forms located on the NJDEP's SRP webpage, when sending documents to the Department.

  6. What if the Preliminary Assessment Report is incomplete and a comprehensive operational history of my proposed child care center property can not be determined? Can a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) still issue a RAO?

    A LSRP can not issue a RAO based on incomplete information regarding the site's operational history. If the LSRP has exhausted all possibilities and still cannot obtain the complete history, then soil sampling is required, at a minimum, in any proposed play area(s). Sampling is described in the Child Care Guidance Document at: www.nj.gov/dep/srp/guidance/srra

  7. Does a Preliminary Assessment (PA) have to be conducted for a play area in a public park, or on a publically owned property such as a public school?

    If the outdoor play area is located on a different lot than the proposed child care building, and the lot is publically owned, you do not have to conduct a PA on the play area as long as the property also fulfills the Department of Children and Families' outdoor activity requirements.

  8. What is a Site Investigation (SI)?

    If a Preliminary Assessment shows areas of concern an SI must be conducted. The SI reports on various types of environmental data (soil, dust, water, etc.) and evaluates this data to determine whether or not there are discharged contaminants at the site that could pose a health concern. If such contaminants are present and exceed NJ Guidance Levels and/or applicable standards, additional remediation will be necessary. Please see the Technical Requirements for Site Remediation for specific information on SIs. If there are no AOCs impacting the portion of the site used by the child care center, a RAO may be issued for the clean portion of the site in order to allow issuance of the child care license. Please note, if the complete site history of the child care center cannot be determined or if the play area is not covered, the LSRP may recommend soil sampling of the play area, to ensure that the children will not be exposed to any potential contamination in the play area soil. Remember to submit all appropriate forms located on the NJDEP's SRP webpage, when sending documents to the Department.

  9. What happens if the Site Investigation soil samples show exceedances?

    If an analysis of soil samples indicates there are exceedances, or levels of contaminants that exceed the soil cleanup standards, you must report the exceedances to the DEP's Hotline (1-877-WARN-DEP), conduct a Remedial Investigation and Remedial Action.

  10. Does an outdoor play area for a child care center that is located on a property that was formerly used for agricultural purposes require a site investigation be conducted?

    If as a result of the PA, it has been determined that the child care center's outdoor play area is located on a former agricultural use property, this would be considered a potential Area of Concern (AOC). A detailed description of the construction of the play area, including fencing locations, should be included to determine if any direct contact exposures exist. The potential of a direct contact threat requires soil sampling as part of a Site Investigation (SI).

  11. Do I have to clean up naturally occurring (i.e. arsenic from a geological formation) soil contamination in the play area at my child care center?

    While NJDEP does not require "clean-up" of naturally occurring soil contamination such as arsenic in the play area, we recommend covering the play area with an acceptable "cap" to reduce or minimize any direct contact exposure. For more information about caps and/or naturally occurring contamination please consult the Presumptive Remedy Guidance Document found at www.nj.gov/dep/srp/guidance/srra. Be advised that the use of sod may be used if the sod is "certified clean". Please exercise discretion when choosing sod because sod may be treated with pesticides and/or herbicides which may be or become a direct contact exposure issue.

  12. Who pays for the environmental evaluations, including the Preliminary Assessment (PA), Site Investigation (SI), Remedial Action (RA)?

    Generally, the site owner has responsibility, however, the NJDEP Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Site Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26C) do not specify who pays the fees associated with the PA, SI, RA, etc. Therefore, this can be negotiated between the parties interested in meeting the environmental requirement (i.e. the owner, the child care center operator, etc).

    However, if remediation is required and a non-child care RAO is issued, the annual fees apply.

  13. How is a Response Action Outcome (RAO) issued for child care licensing purposes any different than a RAO for other properties and uses?

    A RAO for child care licensing purposes must include specific inserts pertaining to the evaluation of:

    • Direct contact exposure within the play area(s)
    • The quality of the source of drinking water at the center

    Please refer to the RAO guidance document and the Environmental Evaluation of Child Care Centers guidance document, available at: www.nj.gov/dep/srp/guidance/srra

  14. What type of RAO is needed for the licensing of a proposed Child Care Center?

    If the child care center owns the property, an entire site RAO must be issued for the property. If the child care center does not own the property then a leasehold RAO may be issued for the leasehold portion of the child care center. However, please note an RAO issued must be based on a Preliminary Assessment Report for the entire property and not just the leasehold portion.

    Please refer to the RAO Guidance document and the Environmental Evaluation of Child Care Centers Guidance document on the SRP website www.nj.gov/dep/srp/guidance/srra

  15. Once a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) has issued the Response Action Outcome (RAO), do I still need to wait for NJDEP to issue an approval before DCF Office of Licensing will issue my proposed child care center a license?

    No, DCF can issue the license based on the LSRP-issued RAO.

  16. What fees are associated with issuing a Response Action Outcome (RAO) for a child care center?

    There is no fee associated with obtaining a Child Care Response Action Outcome (RAO). However, if remediation is required and a non-child care RAO is issued, the annual fees apply.

  17. What else, if anything, has to be submitted to NJDEP along with the Child Care RAO

    All documentation that supports the issuance of the Child Care RAO must be submitted at the same time to the NJDEP. Such documents include, but are not limited to, the Preliminary Assessment Report, Site Investigation Report, Remedial Investigation Report, and Remedial Action Report. NJDEP will conduct a comprehensive review of all items submitted.

  18. Where can I find funding for the environmental evaluation requirements?

    Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) grants are still available to an existing or prospective owner or operator of a child care center that is licensed or who has applied for a license with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The grant is available for reimbursement up to a maximum amount of $1500, for a complete Preliminary Assessment report. The HDSRF grant application is available at this website: www.nj.gov/dep/srp/finance/hdsrf/hdsrf_ccfg.htm. Please note, this grant is available to owners or operators of a child care center only.

  19. What are the environmental evaluation requirements when you are planning new construction on a contaminated site and will need to obtain a construction permit and/or a Certificate of Occupancy?

    As referenced in P.L. 2007, c. 1, (also known as the Madden Legislation), educational centers and child care facilities are required to submit either a Remedial Action Work Plan or a Remedial Action Outcome (RAO) issued by a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP), before a construction official can issue a construction permit. If a Remedial Action Work Plan, rather than a RAO, is used for obtaining a construction permit, then a RAO must be obtained before a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) can be issued.

Renewing and Recertifying

  1. If the property that I will use for a new child care center has a No Further Action (NFA) Letter or Child Care Approval (CCFA) Letter that was issued by the NJDEP Child Care/Educational Facilities Unit, what do I need to do before the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will issue a license?
    • If conditions at the site have not changed since the letter was issued and it was in continuous use as a child care center, the owner of the child care center must complete the DCF's Environmental Recertification Form to obtain a license to operate.
    • If conditions at the site have changed since the letter was issued, the owner of the child care center may have to hire a LSRP to issue a RAO in order to obtain a license to operate.

    Please contact DCF at 1-877-667-9845 early in the process to discuss site specifics.

  2. If the property that I will use for a new child care center has an Entire Site - No Further Action (NFA) Letter that was NOT issued by the NJDEP Child Care/Educational Facilities Unit, will I still need to fulfill environmental requirements before Department of Children and Families (DCF) will issue a license?

    Yes, a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) must be hired to review and reevaluate site conditions (including but not limited to play area and drinking water conditions) and all applicable remediation standards, and issue a Child Care Response Action Outcome (RAO) for licensing purposes.

    Please note, NFAs issued for Areas of Concern, such as underground storage tanks, do not fulfill the environmental requirements for child care licensing.

  3. Do I need to obtain another RAO if I want to expand my operations into another room or floor?

    It depends on the site specific circumstances. For example, if the expansion is into another room or floor of the same building, you may not need to obtain another letter. However, if the expansion involves moving to another building at the site, or changing the play area, you may need to obtain a RAO letter issued by a licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP). To discuss site specifics please contact your DCF inspector for additional guidance.

  4. How can I obtain a copy of a previously issued letter, such as a Child Care Facility Approval, No Further Action, Response Action Outcome or Certification of Safe Drinking Water?

    Copies of files or parts of files may be obtained by contacting the NJDEP Office of Open Public Records at: www.nj.gov/dep/opra

  5. How do I know if my proposed site is subject to the Madden legislation (P.L. 2007 c.1)?

    Sites to be used for Child Care Centers and/or Educational Facilities are subject to the Madden legislation if one or more of the conditions in I. and II. exist:

    1. There is one of the following activities occurring at the subject site:
      • Renovation/rehabilitation/alteration (increasing the square footage of building)
      • Change in use (e.g. industrial to non-industrial, non-educational certificate of occupancy to educational certificate of occupancy)
      • New construction (includes new buildings and creating a center/school where none existed before)
    2. The subject site is/was:
      • A contaminated site
      • A suspected contaminated site
      • An Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) subject site
      • One of the applicable Uniform Construction Codes (UCC): H=High Hazard; S=Storage; B=Dry Cleaners/Nail Salon; F=Factory/Industrial; M=Gas Station, as determined at a minimum, Letter of Prior Use and by performing a Preliminary Assessment Report.

    NOTE: Specific questions regarding change(s) in use may be directed to the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Code Assistance Section at 609-984-7609. The legislation is available at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/bills/PL07/1_.pdf

Safe Drinking Water

  1. When is a Safe Drinking Water Certification letter needed?

    A Safe Drinking Water Certification letter is needed prior to issuance of a Child Care Approval (CCFA) Letter or a Response Action Outcome (RAO). Be advised that existing centers may also need to "recertify" the Safe Drinking Water Certification during license renewal. Please contact NJDEP's Bureau of Water System Engineering (BWSE) at (609) 292-2957 for further information.

  2. How do I obtain certification that my center provides safe drinking water?

    There are two ways to certify safe drinking water:

    • If your child care center is connected to a community water system, you must document the name of the community water system, the unique Public Water System Identification Number, and provide either a copy of a recent water bill indicating service to the child care center's address, or a letter from the community water system certifying service to the address.
    • If the Child Care center obtains drinking water from a source other than a community water system, you must to follow the DEP Bureau of Water System Engineering's (BWSE) sampling requirements. Please submit drinking water sampling results for review to the:

      NJDEP Bureau of Water System Engineering
      401 E. State Street
      PO Box 420
      Trenton NJ 08625-0420

    Please see How to Certify Safe Drinking Water is Being Provided to Child Care Centers for a full list of Sampling Parameters and Procedures.

    Once all testing requirements are satisfied, the BWSE will review the results and determine if they meet Federal and State Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). If all MCLs are met, BWSE will issue a Safe Drinking Water Certification letter.

  3. How can I identify the community or non-community water system that serves my child care center?

    To determine what the name of the water system serving a residence or child care center, please visit: http://datamine2.state.nj.us/DEP_OPRA/OpraMain/categories?category=Safe+Drinking+Water . Use the drop down menus at the bottom of this web page to search by, county, municipality, and/or Public Water System Identification Number (PWSID).

  4. If I am not served by a community water system, what do I have to sample and analyze my drinking water for?

    A list of drinking water parameters you are required to sample and analyze for can be found on the Child Care Center Drinking Water Checklist.

  5. What if we only drink bottled water?

    Even if you provide bottled water, the regulation still requires you to either provide the community water system documentation or analyze the tap water for the required drinking water parameters.

Non - NJDEP Questions

  1. What is a Letter of Prior Uses? How do I find out the past uses of my building?

    The Letter of Prior Uses identifies historic uses of the property. It often may be provided by the construction code official of the municipality in which the property is located, however, please note that the history may incomplete.. A listing of municipal construction code officials can be found on the Department of Community Affairs web site at: www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_ora/muniroster.pdf . (is this the correct one?)Any questions about the Uniform Construction Code should be directed to the Department of Community Affairs, Code Assistance Unit at (609) 984-7609. The letter of prior uses does not fulfill the Preliminary Assessment, Response Action Outcome, or Child Care Facility Approval (CCFA) letter requirement.

  2. Do I need to send a copy of the construction code official's Letter of Prior uses to NJDEP?

    No.

  3. What are the requirements if I am located near a dry cleaner or nail salon?

    DCF requires the operator of a child care center located in the same building or structure as a dry cleaner or nail salon to provide indoor air sampling results to demonstrate no impact on air quality at the child care center. Follow Department of Health's (DOH's) guidance for all indoor environmental activity. The DOH Indoor Environments Program can be reached at 609-826-4950. Site specific questions regarding sampling results or health effects information may be directed to 609-826-4920. DHSS Guidance can be found on the DOH web site at www.state.nj.us/health/iep.

  4. What indoor air requirements do I have to meet?

    Contact the Department of Health's Indoor Environments Program to determine what steps, if any, are necessary to address the risks posed by the prior historical use. The Indoor Environments Program can be reached at (609) 826-4950. DOH's guidance can be found on their web site at www.state.nj.us/health/iep.

For Educational Facilities

  1. Is there any recent legislation that applies to new school construction?

    Yes, the Madden legislation (P.L. 2007 c.1) also applies to certain educational facilities (schools) and is available at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/bills/PL07/1_.pdf

  2. How do I know if my school site is subject to the Madden legislation (P.L. 2007 c.1)?

    Sites to be used for Child Care Centers and/or Educational Facilities are subject to the Madden legislation if one or more of the conditions in I. and II. exist:

    1. There is one of the following activities occurring at the subject site:
      • Renovation/rehabilitation/alteration (increasing the square footage of building)
      • Change in use (e.g. industrial to non-industrial, non-educational certificate of occupancy to educational certificate of occupancy)
      • New construction or creating a center/school where none existed before
    2. The subject site is/was:
      • A contaminated site
      • A suspected contaminated site
      • An Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) subject site
      • One of the applicable Uniform Construction Codes (UCC): H=High Hazard; S=Storage; B=Dry Cleaners/Nail Salon; F=Factory/Industrial; M=Gas Station

    NOTE: Specific questions regarding change(s) in use may be directed to the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Code Assistance Section at 609-984-7609.

  3. Which agencies may be involved in the alteration, renovation and/or construction of a (new) educational facility?

    Multiple agencies may be involved, for example:

    1. The Department of Environmental Protection:
    2. The Department of Education-Office of School Facilities
    3. The School Development Authority (SDA)
    4. The Department of Community Affairs: Division of Codes and Standards
      • Projects involving the creation of a new public school by a local Board of Education
      • The DCA retains jurisdiction for both plan review and inspection for all projects undertaken by the SDA.
      • For all other school projects, Uniform Construction Code enforcement is handled at the local level.
      • http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/codes/index.html

HDSRF Grant FAQs

  1. What is a Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (HDSRF) Child Care Facility Grant?

    The HDSRF Child Care Facility Grant (P.L.2007, c. 135) is a grant reimbursement up to a maximum amount of $1,500, provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). HDSRF Child Care Facility Grants are available to an existing or prospective owner or operator of a child care center that is licensed or who has applied for a license with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) pursuant to P.L.1983, c.492 (C.30:5B-1 et seq). A grant reimbursement up to a maximum amount of $1500 is available to those child care centers that submit a complete Preliminary Assessment (PA). The Department will award funding based on the cost to produce the PA.

  2. What costs are reimbursable under this program? What costs cannot be reimbursed?

    Only the costs associated with a complete PA can be reimbursed. Site Investigation (SI) costs, Remedial Investigation (RI) costs,and potable water testing are not eligible for the grant reimbursement.

  3. How much can I be reimbursed?

    An applicant can be reimbursed up to $1,500 for a complete PA.

  4. How do I know how much I will be reimbursed?

    The applicant will be reimbursed according to the amount identified in the paid invoice submitted to the NJDEP for the completion of a PA, not to exceed $1,500.

  5. Who is eligible to be reimbursed?

    Only owners or operators of a child care center licensed under the Child Care Center Licensing Act (P.L. 1983, c. 492 C.30:5B-1 et seq.) or prospective owners or operators of a child care center who have applied for a license under the Child Care Center Licensing Act can be reimbursed for the cost of the PA. The law does not allow for landlords and property owners to be reimbursed for the cost of the PA. Additionally, only child care centers licensed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) are eligible. Schools (i.e., private, public, or charter), unless licensed by DCF as a child care center, are not eligible for this reimbursement grant.

  6. How does the grant process work?

    The first step in the process is to complete and submit the Child Care Facility Grant form available at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/srp/srra/forms/. Please refer to the instruction for more information.

    Approximately 2-4 weeks after a complete form is received and reviewed by NJDEP, you will receive a Financial Assistance Agreement (FAA) along with a State of New Jersey Payment Voucher form in the mail. Please sign and return two original copies of each form within 60 days of receipt. Once the completed FAA and Payment Voucher form are received by the NJDEP you will receive the child care grant reimbursement within 2-4 weeks.

  7. How long will it take to get my child care grant reimbursement check once NJDEP receives my grant application and complete PA?

    The entire process takes approximately 8-12 weeks. All deficiencies identified by the Department must be resolved within 90 days or the application will be deemed withdrawn.

  8. If I have already submitted the PA to the NJDEP, when should I send in the grant application packet? Can I be reimbursed if I have already received my approval?

    You may send a completed grant application packet at any time if you have previously submitted the PA to the NJDEP.

  9. The form asks for a NJDEP Program Interest # (PI). Where do I find my NJDEP Program Interest # (PI)?

    Your PI number can also be found at http://datamine2.state.nj.us/dep/DEP_OPRA/index2.html#sr. Scroll down to access the "Child Care Educational Facility Category" and click the "Access Child Care Educational Facility Category Report" link.

  10. Can I be reimbursed if I move my child care center to another location and have to complete another PA for the new property?

    Yes, the law does not prohibit a child care grant reimbursement due to relocation. You can receive a child care grant reimbursement for each complete PA submitted.

  11. Section 5 of the NJ W-9 Questionnaire states that I should mail the completed W-9 Form to: OMB Vendor Control Unit. Is this correct?

    No. Please attach the NJ W-9 to the form as required.

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