Child Care spaces should be secure environments that provide a variety of learning experiences and meet the physical needs of the children. See WBDG Child Development Centers for more information on the unique attributes of spaces designed for child development and care. Typical features of Child Care space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.
- Child care center design must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The design must accommodate children and adults with disabilities. The site, as well as the building access to and within the child care spaces, shall comply with the current publication of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), the final rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), and local accessibility codes, whichever is most stringent.
Classrooms are the architecturally defined areas that contain each group of children. Classrooms may be separated by full partitions or by partial barriers that also allow controlled visual or acoustical connections to other groups.
Design spaces with a sensitivity to children's scale, including how they will use the space, what they will see, and what kind of experience they will have.
Classroom equipment and durable goods including cots and cribs, chairs and other seating devices, furniture, play equipment, academic equipment, presentation equipment, audiovisual equipment, computer equipment, food service, and hygiene equipment must be provided. Provide durable and cost-effective materials and details. This is vital when the designer considers the intensity of use that a center receives. Particular sensitivity should be paid to the life-cycle cost of materials.
Outdoor spaces may include play yard space, including fencing, canopy, sidewalk, ground cover, drainage, shade devices, play structures, and vegetation planting. See WBDG Playground Design and Equipment for more information.
Occupancy: Occupancy Group Classification is Educational Occupancy E as sub-occupancy with Business B2 Building Occupancy, with sprinklered construction. See also WBDG Secure / Safe—Fire Protection.
Office space in Child Care space types should be equipped with infrastructure to support telephone and data communication systems including space, power, and conduit and telephone and data communication equipment.
Consider providing on-site food service areas directly serving the daycare population and on-site laundry services and water services including hot water and water conditioners.
Whenever possible, design the space to prevent direct access to the child care area. Instead, create a secure main entrance which will be separated from the doors to individual child care rooms and spaces so that a person entering may need to go down a hallway or around a corner to get to a child care entrance.
Security equipment for Child Care space types may include access control, intrusion detection, and alarm systems. See also WBDG Secure / Safe—Security for Building Occupants and Assets.
Additional elevators and exit stairways may be required for Child Care spaces located on the 2nd level of buildings.
Ensure that there is adequate exterior lighting to allow safe exterior circulation and site security.
Provide ample natural light in all spaces where children will spend time, especially the classrooms.
Minimize energy use. Also consider placement of mechanical equipment to ensure energy efficiency as well as acoustic comfort and control.
Equipment, furnishings, and finishes must be non-toxic and not contain asbestos, lead, or other VOCs.
Equipment, furnishings and finishes should be cleaned and maintained using sustainable cleaning or improved maintenance practices.
Good indoor air quality must be provided.
See also WBDG Secure / Safe—Occupant Safety and Health
The following building program is representative of Child Care center space types and is based on the ratios prescribed in the PBS-140 Child Care Center Design Guide. The center described below included provisions for 86 children.
Tenant Occupiable Areas
|Qty.||SF Each||Space Req'd.||Sum Actual SF||Tenant Usable Factor||Tenant USF|
|Staff and Parent Areas||1,140|
|Multiple Purpose Space||1||800||800|
|Play Yard Storage||1||200||200|
|Infant Classroom (8)||1||900||900|
|Younger Toddler Classroom (12)||2||1,060||2,120|
|Younger Toddler Restroom||2||40||80|
|Older Toddler Classroom (14)||1||1,060||1,060|
|Older Toddler Restroom||1||40||40|
|Preschool Classroom (20)||1||1,440||1,440|
|After School Classroom (20)||1||1,440||1,440|
|After School Restroom||1||60||60|
|Parent Drop Off/Parking||10||300||3,000|
|Play Yard Porches||4||400||1,600|
|Subtotal Tenant Usable Areas||11,612|
The following diagram is representative of typical tenant plans.
Example Construction Criteria
Relevant Codes and Standards
The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of child care centers. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible.
- ADA Standards
- Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT)
- Executive Order 13101, "Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition," September 14, 1998.
- Executive Order 13148, "Greening the Government through Leadership in Environmental Management," June 1999.
- GSA PBS-140 Child Care Center Design Guide
- GSA PBS-P100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service
- Interagency Security Committee (ISC) Security Design Criteria—Contains specifications pertaining to window protection in child care centers located in GSA controlled facilities. (For Official Use Only)
- ICC IBC International Building Code
- U.S. Access Board, Play Area Guidelines
Organizations and Associations
- Building Child Care in California—This project exists to provide a centralized clearinghouse of information and services designed to improve child care providers' access to financial resources for facilities development projects in California.
- National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education—The NRC's primary mission is to promote health and safety in out-of-home child care settings throughout the nation.
- Architectural Graphic Standards, 12th Edition by American Institute of Architects, Dennis J. Hall. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
- Children, Youth and Environments, CYE is a refereed journal and multidisciplinary, international network dedicated to improving the lives of young people. The journal targets researchers, policy makers, and professionals and is guided by a distinguished Editorial Advisory Board.