Number of Children Enrolled
1. Requirements for licensing capacity vs ERS enrollment: if a program places a
limit on the number of children they will enroll in a classroom that is LOWER than
their licensed capacity, what number will be used for scoring?
The maximum number of children served is used for determining how many children
are enrolled and used for scoring items that concern adequate and ample materials,
furnishings and space. The maximum number of children allowed would be the number
used for scoring. For example, if a room has the licensing capacity for 14 children,
but the center has elected to cap the room at 8 children, 8 would be the number
used for scoring.
2. Requirement for Bollards: I am not sure if I am required to use bollards to protect
my playground, can you please explain the following:
- Space allotment for when properties with parking lots are behind programs but not
flush to fence?
- Needed just for specific perpendicular spots up against fence? What about parallel
- Acceptable substitute for bollards (crossties)?
Bollards are short vertical posts used to control or direct road traffic / obstruct
the passage of motor vehicles. Traffic bollards are designed to assist in providing
the security needed to stop unwanted vehicle access and provide protection against
vehicles crashing into an area where children are present – namely through the fencing
onto the playground. For a playground adjacent to a parking lot or driveway, a bollard
is required even when not flush with the fencing, as a car experiencing brake issues
or other mechanical problems would crash through the fencing without the bollard
as a barrier. A crosstie, is not an acceptable substitute for a bollard unless the
crosstie is installed vertically and provides the resistance to a frontal impact
from a large vehicle, the same would be true for tire stops.
3. CPSC Guidelines: I understand that the ERS use the CPSC guidelines for their
playground requirements, but what is CPSC and should I just refer to CPSC guidelines
for all playground requirements?
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the federal agency that provides product
safety information and recalls as well as manages regulations for products and businesses.
CPSC typically indicates the company standard for playground equipment safety. However,
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) provides the testing of resilient
surfacing standards that are frequently consulted and National Recreation and Park
Association (NRPA) is the nationally recognized certification for Certified Playground
Safety Inspectors (CPSI) and offers interpretations, use zones and standards for
inspection and assessment of playgrounds. All three regulatory guidelines can be
used to help you determine the safety of your playground and equipment.
4. Requirements for combination tire swing/balance bar: I am trying to determine
whether a piece of equipment that has these two components together is acceptable
Tire swings are usually suspended in a horizontal orientation using three suspension
chains or cables connected to a single swivel mechanism that permits both rotation
and a swinging motion in any axis. A multi-axis tire swing should not be suspended
from a structure having other swings in the same bay. Attaching multi-axis swings
to composite structures is not recommended. Tire swings should be stand-alone equipment
in one bar with no other equipment provided in the same use zone. (Handbook for Playground Safety
Swinging Dual Exercise Rings and Trapeze Bars – These are rings and trapeze bars
on long chains that are generally considered to be items of athletic equipment and
are not recommended for public playgrounds. NOTE: The recommendation against the
use of exercise rings does not apply to overhead hanging rings such as those used
in a ring trek or ring ladder (page 21 of Handbook for Playground Safety addresses horizontal ladders
and overhead rings).
5. Requirements for swings: We have a 2 swing bay with an additional piece in the
same bay, is this acceptable?
To minimize the likelihood of children being struck by a moving swing, it is recommended
that no more than two single-axis swings be hung in each bay of the supporting structure.
In addition, to reduce side-to-side motion, swing hangers should be spaced no less
than 20 inches apart. (Page 29 of Handbook for Playground Safety
6. Hazards associated with climbers over 18” tall: we have 2 climbers over 18” tall
on the playground neither have adequate resilient surfacing and both are located
next to the fence with less than 12” of space between the fence and climber. How
many safety hazards would this count as?
Each time you are able to identify a hazard for any piece of equipment it would
count as 1 hazard. So in your example you have identified 4 separate hazards (2
for each climber).
7. Requirements for spacing of mats/cots/cribs: There have been several updates
regarding the spacing of sleeping equipment, what are the actual requirements so
I can ensure correct spacing in my program?
QR Assessors use the most up-to-date ERSI notes for clarification for each scale.
The latest notes were released in 9/12. Caring for our Children 3rd edition (CFOC3)
no longer allows solid barriers as an acceptable method of separating children while
resting. This means that toy shelving, Plexiglas barriers, and other solid dividers
can no longer be used to separate children who are resting. CFOC3 states that only
the 3 feet separation is sufficient to cut down on the risk of air borne germs while
children rest. Solid screens or other barriers, such as crib ends or toy shelves,
are not acceptable because they would need to extend from floor to ceiling to prevent
air borne contamination from one child to another, and they would disrupt supervision.
Although this new guideline applies to all scales, there are some differences in
how this item in scored, depending on the scales used.
- For ITERS-R and FCCERS-R the following applies: For 1.1, score No if at least 75%
of the cribs/mats/cots are separated by 3 feet, and no sleeping equipment are closer
than 24 inches. For 3.2, do not give credit unless there is 3 feet between each
- For ECERS-R the following applies: For 1.2, score No if at least 75% of the mats/cots
are separated by at least 18 inches. For 3.2, do not give credit unless there is
at least 18 inches between every sleeping provision. 5.3 requires 3 feet between
each sleeping surface with no exceptions (e.g., shelves or screens as dividers).
Meals and Snacks
8. Requirements for service of meal components: is it okay to give children their
milk at the very end of the meal, I want to make sure they eat all of their food
USDA - CACFP meal guidelines are followed when scoring these indicators, when milk
is a required component of the meal such as for breakfast and lunch, you are required
for the milk to be present throughout the meal unless a written doctor’s note is
supplied. For any food item to be credited by CACFP or for an ERS observation, all
components must be served at the same time.
9. Requirements for sanitizing tables: When I am sanitizing tables after lunch and
using three tables, can I use the same rag/paper towel to wipe off all three tables
if then discarded?
No. Page 83 All About the ITERS-R Meals/snacks and page 94 All About ECERS-R Meals/snacks
states: If wet cloths are used, a separate cloth is required for each table and
highchair tray, and cloths cannot be returned to soak in a bleach-water solution.
10. Requirements for bleach/water substitutes: I use a bleach substitute that is
labeled as both a cleaner and a disinfectant to prepare my tables for meals. I understand
that the scales require a 2 step process to ensure the tables are properly sanitized.
But if my product is listed as a cleaner/disinfectant do I have to use the product
twice, one time to clean and wipe dry and then again to sanitize?
All four scales require the same procedure for effective cleaning and sanitizing.
The procedure is to clean with soap/water solution to remove gross soil, dry with
a paper tower, and then sanitize with bleach water, or alternate EPA approved sanitizing
solution. The table must first be cleaned. After the cleaning the table must be
sanitized. A table cannot be properly sanitized until it is first clean. A sanitizer
and not a disinfectant should be used on all food contacting surfaces. The recipes
for sanitizing and disinfecting make two different strengths of bleach in water
and have different uses to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
- Sanitizing (1 tablespoon of bleach + 1 gallon of cool water) = approx 200 parts
per million of chlorine.
- Disinfecting (1/4 – 3/4 cup of bleach + 1 gallon cool water, or 1 – 3 tablespoons
of bleach + 1 quart cool water) = approx 750 parts per million of chlorine.
Any time bleach water is used to sanitize or disinfect it must remain on the surface
for at least 2 minutes before being wiped, air drying is preferable.
To specifically address ‘disinfectant” rather than “sanitizer” as is required for
toileting/diapering, an alternative EPA approved “disinfectant” (not sanitizer)
may be used in place of the usual bleach and water solution. Check the label of
the original container and look for the designation as an EPA disinfectant. Be sure
all instructions for use are followed. If not do not give credit for disinfecting
11. Requirements for sanitizer use: the EPA registered sanitizer our program uses
says to leave on for 1 minute and allow to air dry – do not rinse or wipe. Can it
be wiped after 1 minute?
Please follow the EPA instructions and allow it to air dry before proceeding. You
have the option of finding a different EPA registered product if these directions
are hard to follow, or you can use bleach water that is mixed daily using the correct
ratios for sanitizing and disinfecting purposes.
12. Requirements for separation of activity areas (centers): I understand that the
separation of quiet and active areas is required, is a physical barrier (shelving)
When considering this indicator, it is best to sit in a quiet area and determine
if it provides the relief or opportunities for retreat from the noisy harshness
of the room. A reading area next to dramatic play and/or blocks does not allow for
that quiet time or retreat. The business of the blocks/construction and the flurry
of activity in dramatic play/housekeeping often interfere (on occasion even invading)
with the activities of the other centers. Shelving (whether open on both sides or
not) is not enough to sufficiently separate active and quiet areas. A low shelf
or a shelf where toys are stored does not provide the needed buffer, sound travels
over shelving. Having a physical barrier and sufficient distance separating
these areas is helpful in avoiding problems. Activity areas like sand/water, fine
motor, science, and math can provide the needed buffer between those more active
areas and the quiet areas.
13. Requirements for disinfecting the floor after changing pull-ups/underwear: I
know that we follow guidelines from Caring for our Children 3rd edition (CFOC3)
when changing diapers and pull-ups/underwear. However I do not see in CFOC3 where
it addresses cleaning/disinfecting of the floor when changing pull-ups/underwear.
Your handout “Changing Procedure for Changing Children’s Soiled Underwear/Pull-ups
and Clothing - Standing up” requires that the floor be cleaned and disinfected as
if it were a diaper table. It would seem to me that if you are interpreting the
bathroom floor as a changing surface, would it require disinfecting in between each
child using the toilet?
CFOC3 and ERSI requirements are followed when changing pull-ups/underwear. CFOC3
recommends that children needing to have a pull-up or underwear changed should be
placed on a toddler changing table (one with stairs) to reduce the risk of contaminating
the environment as much as possible. However, BFTS allows you to change children
standing up on the bathroom floor, instead of requiring programs to purchase toddler
diaper tables. Because all diaper changing procedures must still be followed, if
a child is standing on the floor, this means the floor effectively becomes the changing
surface for this particular procedure (changing paper can be placed on the floor
for the child to stand on). Children regularly using the toilet are not actually
“being changed” on the floor, and that is why disinfecting is not required after
every child uses the bathroom, (however, toilet seats and the floor should obviously
be cleaned and disinfected if they become contaminated during use, and are one of
the areas that daily cleaning and disinfecting is required). When a pull-up or underwear
is changed on a child that is standing up there is an increased risk that the floor
and other surfaces may become contaminated (staff often drop the removed pull-up
or underwear on the floor, or it touches the floor as a child steps out of it, and
gravity means the floor can easily become soiled with urine droplets or fecal matter).
Because the requirements for changing a pull-up/underwear are the same as you follow
when changing a diaper on a table, you are required to clean and disinfect the changing
surface (the floor in this case) after each change.
14. Requirements for anti-bacterial hand soap and wipes: I am not sure how the ERS
views the use of anti-bacterial hand soap and wipes. Is it true that anti-bacterial
hand soap can NOT be used, and are anti-bacterial wipes ALLOWED, but regular baby
wipes also acceptable?
QR Assessors follow the most up-to-date notes for clarification from ERSI and the
last ones dated 9/12 for ITERS-R, ECERS-R, and FCCERS-R, and 7/12 for SACERS state
that anti-bacterial hand soap should be avoided
In regards to the anti-bacterial wipes, the new updated version of CFOC3 (both online
and PDF versions) does not mention using anti-bacterial wipes. In the diapering
procedures, Step 1 Part c states: Wipes, dampened cloths or wet paper towels for
cleaning the child’s genitalia and buttocks readily available; and Step 4 Part e
states: Whether or not gloves were used, use a fresh wipe to wipe the hands of the
caregiver/teacher and another fresh wipe to wipe the child's hands. Put the wipes
into the plastic-lined, hands-free covered can.
QR Assessors use the most up-to-date notes; therefore regular baby wipes are acceptable
to use to complete these tasks. Anti-bacterial wipes should not be used on the child.
The only alternative to regular baby wipes is a wet paper towel or damp cloth .
. . CFOC3 states in the diapering rational: “Some experts believe that commercial
baby wipes may cause irritation of a baby's sensitive tissues, such as inside the
labia, but currently there is no scientific evidence available on this issue. Wet
paper towels or a damp cloth may be used as an alternative to commercial baby wipes”.
While CFOC3 does state in the procedures for changing pull-ups or underwear that
staff can use hand-sanitizer during the step prior to them touching the clean pull-up/underwear
(child’s hands still need to be wiped with a regular baby wipe), we recommend that
the staff also just use a baby wipe to clean their hands as they would have to follow
the correct procedure for using the hand-sanitizer and would have to wait until
it had dried before they could handle the child or clean diaper.
15. Requirements for handwashing: It is a lot easier after art (painting) to clean
the children’s hands with a washcloth or wipe to prevent them dripping the paint
across the floor to get to the sink. Is it ok if we use a washcloth to clean a child's
hands after art instead of washing at the sink?
Hands must be washed after messy play, if you choose to use a wash cloth instead
of soap and running water it will negatively impact the scoring of this indicator.
Paint is a liquid that can be contaminated so hands must be washed before (if children
are sharing the finger paint in the container) and after painting. It might be a
good idea to wipe a child’s hands clean of paint with a wash rag prior to washing
with soap and water if they are badly soiled, but hands must be washed with soap
and running water after messy play.
Furniture for Routine Care and Play/Learning
16. Requirement for storage of personal possessions: Do programs need to have an
actual cubby unit or can a program JUST utilize hooks to store children’s possessions?
The intent of having cubbies is so that children can store their personal belongings.
The type of the cubby is not important, what matters is that whatever item is used
as a cubby can sufficiently hold all of the children’s belongings, and that it can
do so without those personal belongings touching another child’s. Hooks can be used
for storing individual possessions if there is a way to allow all the necessary
items to be stored, such as blankets, jackets, items brought from home, etc. to
be stored without them touching.
17. Requirement for cubby substitute: Instead of cubbies I have milk crates zip-tied
together. The crates have holes in them, but are large enough to store the children’s
personal possessions, school work, and their winter jackets. Will using milk crates
as cubbies be acceptable?
The use of milk crates as you describe would most likely allow personal items to
touch, parts of clothing, blankets etc, may protrude through the holes of the crates
and touch items in the adjoining crate. The purpose of having separated cubbies
that do not allow for touching of personal items is to reduce the risk for the spread
of disease or nuisance infestations such as lice. If there is some way to line the
crates with a sturdy material that would prevent personal items from touching then
the milk crates may suffice as cubbies, so long as they are large enough to store
all items securely without them falling out onto the floor or bulging out the sides
and touching other children’s possessions.
18. Requirement for amount of cubbies: I have 2 more children than cubbies, is it
acceptable for me to add makeshift cubbies such as bins, Rubbermaid drawers, or
boxes for the additional 2 children to use for their personal items?
All four scales require a sufficient number of pieces of furniture for use in the
storage of children’s possessions for the total number of children allowed to attend
at one time. A Cubby is a personal space to store the belongings of an individual
child. To reduce the risk of contamination and to prevent germs and nuisance pests,
such as lice from spreading, the cubbies should prevent personal possessions (clothing,
jackets, and blankets), from touching the personal possessions of another child.
If a child has a specific bin, box, drawer labeled for individual use, then the
intent of the indicator is met. There is no requirement that a purchased wooden
cubby has to be provided.
19. Requirements about the sharing of cubbies, I have twins in my classroom, is
it ok if they share the same cubby or do they need to have their own cubby to store
their personal items?
Twins are individual children and so cannot share the same cubby if that would cause
crowding and allow their personal items to touch.
20. Requirements for storage of extra toys and supplies: can toys for rotation be
stored on shelving in the bathroom IF the toys are stored in lidded, closed containers
and then put into different containers when being put into the classroom for use
(i.e. the container used to hold toys in the bathroom is not put out in the classroom)?
The bathroom can be used for storage of additional toys or routine care supplies,
providing they are not in a place where they are likely to become contaminated (i.e.
next to the toilet on the floor), or are within children’s reach. Items can be stored
in locked cabinets or in lidded, closed containers out of the reach of children
21. Requirements for accessible and convenient: I have to store my mat cart outside
the classroom and another staff member brings me the cart before lunch time. It
is convenient for me, but I am not sure if the ERS would consider it to be so. Also,
some of the children’s possessions are stored in cubbies that are too high for them
to reach but they can hang either a book bag or a coat on a hook. How many items
have to be considered accessible and convenient to give credit for this indicator?
Because this indicator refers to routine care furniture all furniture and equipment
to meet children’s needs for feeding, diapering/toileting, nap/rest, and storage
of personal possessions must be accessible and convenient. Mats are not convenient
if they have to be brought to the classroom. It would not be accessible or convenient
for you to get a child’s mat if he or she needed to rest prior to nap time. Mats
are only considered accessible and convenient when they are stored within the classroom
so the teacher does not have to leave the children unattended. With the exception
of infants and toddlers (who are not required to have access to their cubbies),
the children’s possessions should be accessible to them inside the classroom to
be considered convenient.
22. Requirements for major and minor hazards: is tripping or finger pinching considered
a major or minor hazard?
For all four scales a major hazard is determined to be something that would result
in a serious injury resulting in hospitalization or medical treatment, and a minor
hazard is something that may require minor first aid on site, but would not be likely
to result in a hospitalization or visit to the doctor’s office. For example, All
About ECERS-R (pg. 137) considers tree roots that cause tripping which is unlikely
to cause serious injury and require hospitalization or a visit to the doctor, as
a minor hazard. The same would go for a finger pinch that just required an ice pack
and not a doctor’s visit. The determining factor on whether something would be considered
a major or minor hazard is to figure out what type of outcome would likely be caused
by the hazard, which may differ depending on the age of the children involved.
23. Requirements for access to phone: does a teacher need to have access to a phone
or walkie-talkie at all times? For example a teacher would need to have access to
a phone or some way to call someone without leaving the children in case of an emergency
(i.e. a walkie-talkie when they are on the playground, etc). Or is just having a
phone on-site enough?
The intent of this indicator is for the program to have the essentials that are
needed to deal with dangers that require immediate action such as accidents, fire,
or other emergencies. The teacher does need immediate access to a phone (cell phones
are acceptable), walkie-talkie, other communication device. If there is a phone
in the classroom it must be able to dial out directly, not just ring to the front
desk and other rooms, (in case staff need to call 911 or talk to a parent from the
24. Requirements for posted emergency numbers: are the children’s emergency numbers
required to be posted in plain view or should just the general emergency numbers
Only general emergency numbers (911, poison control, etc.) should be posted in plain
view near the telephone. There is not a requirement to post private information
relating to children, and their emergency numbers do not have to be posted for all
to see. However, a reference can be made on the bulletin board as to where these
numbers can be easily found by all staff, including substitutes. The same type of
privacy concerns should be followed for children with allergies or medical needs.
Your posted allergy chart for example could have a cover sheet titled “allergies”
so that only those who would need to see the list would turn the page and locate
the needed information.
Children with Disabilities
25. Requirements for children with special needs: We have a child with a diagnosed
disability in our program. Typically this child is enrolled in another classroom
in the fall but during the summer our classes are combined due to low enrollment,
and the child is in my classroom. How should we approach this situation when using
the ERS to assess my classroom?
Since this child will be in your classroom for possibly 3 months you should have
the same knowledge of this child’s needs that his “regular” teacher would have.
The child will have the same need to have any modifications made no matter what
classroom they are physically in, and you will need to have access to the same goals
and plans for this child so you can best meet his or her needs.
26. Requirements for verification of accessibility: our local Fire Marshall verified
that our building meets county and state building codes for 100% handicap accessible;
however, the main doors to the building have pull handles. How would this be handled?
The intent of this indicator is that your building is accessible to individuals
with disabilities whether or not they are part of your program. The note for clarification
explains that door handles must be able to be operated by individuals with limited
use of their hands. Round door knobs may present difficulty in manipulating the
turn knob to open a door. Pull handles are an acceptable type of handle. If any
questions arise about this issue you can show your documentation from the Fire Marshall
that identifies your building as being 100% accessible.
Use of TV, Videos, and Computers
27. Requirements for screen time and game consoles: since many of the games our
children play encourage physical activity is a Nintendo Wii considered computer
screen time for ERS?
A Nintendo Wii, or any other video game system that utilizes a screen, is considered
in ERS to be “screen time”. The same type of activity played on video games, that
people justify using because it promotes physical activity, can frequently be achieved
without using a screen. For example dancing or exercising can be led by a child
or the teacher instead of turning on the tv or video for guidance.
28. Requirements for storage of TV carts: our program leaves a couple of TVs in
selected classrooms to be available for the children enrolled in night care (these
are children of mixed ages). We do not use the TVs during the day for any of our
children; will storing the TVs in classrooms affect our ERS score for this item?
A television that is stored in a classroom and is not in use will not be included
in scoring screen time. The assessor will ask the teacher how the television is
used if it is in the room and not on during the observation. The staff answers will
be considered in scoring. It should be noted that a television does take up space
in the room, so it may interfere with traffic, activity area space or supervision.