A CLOSER LOOK: DHS requires preschools to match staff numbers to child numbers

A Closer Look

The Department of Human Services requires preschools to abide by staff/child ratios.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA) — State law requires preschools and daycare centers to staff according to the number of children being cared for and ages of the children.

“A Licensee shall not have more children in care at any one time that the maximum specified on the license,” the Department of Human Services Minimum Licensing Requirements for Child Care Centers states.

The DHS document breaks down the children-to-staff ratio by age groups.

Child age groups for preschool/daycare facilities are broken down into the following groups:

  • Birth – 18 months
  • 18 months – 36 months
  • 2 1/2 – 3 years
  • 4 years
  • 5 years
  • Kindergarten and above

The child to staff member ratio as set by DHS is as follows:

  • Infants to 18 months old, one staff member for every five children.
  • 18 month olds to 36 month olds, one staff member for every eight children.
  • 2 1/2 year olds to 3 year olds, one staff member for every 12 children.
  • 4 year olds, one staff member for every 15 children.
  • 5 year olds to kindergarten-age students, one staff member for every 18 children.
  • Kindergarten-age students and above, one staff member for every 18 children.

“Children ages 30 to 36 months may be placed in the group most suited to their social, emotional and developmental maturity,” the document states.

Infants and toddlers can be mixed with preschool children, but only according to specific DHS requirements. If a licensed preschool has eight or fewer children, age groups can be mixed according to the following ratios:

The ratio by which infants and toddlers can be mixed with preschool children, according to the Department of Human Services.

“In a group containing children of different ages, the staff/child ratio shall meet the requirements for the youngest child in the group,” the document states. “During lunch or outdoor play activities, if children of different age groups are together, the staff child ratio for the respective age groups shall be maintained.”

Preschool/daycare facilities are prohibited from leaving children unsupervised or unattended.

“The child care center shall provide additional staff for any temporary absence of primary child caring staff for activities such as breaks, meal preparation, transportation, etc,” the document states.

Also, additional staff provisions must be made for children with disabilities who require individual attention, the document states.

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