Continuous Child Care Facilities  

by Eric Mion
U.S. Cost, Inc.



The Continuous Child Care Facility (CCCF) provides around-the-clock child care to support families for whom the typical Child Development Center's (CDC) operating hours are not adequate. The need for around-the-clock care is driven by the requirements of parents with atypical schedules, emergencies, or other unplanned absences. These might include night-time shift work or unforeseen in-patient medical care.

In general, CCCFs seek to combine the strengths of in-home-style care with those of center-based care. However, just like a CDC, the CCCF must be designed to provide safe, nurturing, and stimulating environments essential for healthy child development. The CCCF will provide this environment on a smaller scale and in a facility designed to replicate a home. For example, a CCCF includes a living room, play room, dinning room, and bedrooms to accommodate the different functions and activities that the CDC accommodates in classrooms/child activity rooms. The CCCF design may vary based on facility mission, including the age of the children accepted and the length of stay allowed.

As with a CDC, there are nationally recognized accreditation agencies, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), that identify requirements for quality child development programs.

Building Attributes

A. Space Types and Building Organization

CCCF facility spaces are intended to emulate typical residential spaces. Administrative space is minimal.

  • Foyer. Primary facility entry and check-in, should allow entering children to view other children in living and play rooms.
  • Living room. Gathering and quiet social activity area
  • Play room. Gathering and play area with a variety of structured activity subareas
  • Dining room. Family-style dining area for all children, also accommodating table-based activities such as crafts and homework
  • Kitchen. Full-service, residential-style kitchen
  • Crib/infant room. Sleeping space and infant activity area, including diaper changing facilities
  • Bedrooms. Separate rooms for boys and girls
  • Child toilets. These may be unisex facilities and/or gender-specific facilities and include child-sized fixtures and a bath/shower.
  • Staff den / office
  • Staff toilet
  • Laundry
  • Storage
  • Outdoor activity area. Fenced activity area for children

Spaces are organized to achieve the key goals of supervising the children, maintaining a home-like setting, and providing ample space for active play. Explore opportunities to dual-use circulation space as additional activity area for children: To the degree possible, open areas should easily flow from one to the other in order to maximize gross motor activity areas for children.

Bubble diagram of CCCF spaces

Sample bubble diagram for a continuous child care facility.
Developed by EwingCole and U.S. Cost, Inc.

B. Design Considerations

Key design goals and considerations for CCCF are very similar to those for CDCs, with special emphasis on the following:

Be Homelike

Even more than in a CDC, a CCCF is designed to emulate a single-family residential environment. (However, as these are commercial facilities, the applicable facility classification and building codes may be more stringent than residential codes.) Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Provide a sense of arrival and welcome upon entering the facility for both children and parents
  • Allow children to independently address bodily needs such as hunger, thirst, using the toilet, and sleep
  • Avoid institutional, unnatural finishes and textures. Use natural finishes to the extent possible or a natural appearance when not possible. For example, resilient sheet flooring should have a simulated stone or wood-grain pattern.

Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment

Safety is a critical element of CCCF design and includes both child-abuse prevention as well as injury prevention:

  • Provide vision panels in all interior doors
  • Ensure controlled access to the facility, including outdoor spaces
  • Provide window treatments that are either cordless, have cords that are out of reach of children, or have continuous-loop cords that are permanently anchored to the wall
  • Specify easily cleaned finishes
  • Provide good indoor air quality as well as to the use of daylighting, non-toxic building materials and improved maintenance practices
  • Use rounded corners (½" bull-nose) on all counters, casework, and furnishings

Provide a Durable and Maintainable Facility

The continuous use (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) and gross motor activities will impact the facility interior:

  • Provide durable interior finishes and furnishings while maintaining a residential-style appearance
  • Use solid surface/solid composite counters
  • Provide heavy-duty, "professional" grade, residential appliances for the kitchen and laundry

Emerging Issues

The very need for the CCCF is an emerging issue as the modern family has increasingly complex time demands, requiring flexible child care. This is particularly true for military families that may include deployed or wounded parent(s). The CCCF provides an alternative to in-home care services for parents that also want the added safety and security of center-based care facilities.

Relevant Codes and Standards

Standard federal and state building codes apply, as appropriate.

Department of Defense

Additional Resources