The Caring for Our Children, National Health and Safety Performance Standards, Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs are a set of national standards that represent the most effective health and safety policies and practices for today's early care and education settings, based on evidence, expertise, and experience.
Caring for Our Children (CFOC) says that childcare facilities should have an outdoor play area that is next to the indoor facilities or can be reached by a safe route no more than one-eighth mile away from the facility. Each child using the playground at any given time should have access to at least 75 square feet of space on the playground.
- A minimum of thirty-three square feet of accessible outdoor play space is required for each infant;
- A minimum of fifty square feet of accessible outdoor play space is required for each child from eighteen to twenty-four months of age.
- There should be separated areas for play for the following ages of children:
- Ages six through twenty-three months
- Ages two to five years
- Ages five to twelve years
It is essential to provide sufficient outdoor space to accommodate the full enrollment of children because children gain maximum benefit from being outside. The number of injuries caused by gross motor play equipment may decrease if more square feet are provided for each child.
Also, if there isn't enough outdoor play space, it won't be possible to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)'s proposed requirements for accessible routes in outdoor play areas or to create natural outdoor play areas with shade and variety.
Interested in learning more about outdoor play areas? Check out ChildCareEd’s training courses and learn how to create safe and supportive outdoor play environments.
CFOC Standards Database | National Resource Center. (2023). Retrieved 8 February 2023, from https://nrckids.org/CFOC/Database/6