Observation-Based Inspections

This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Priorities of Observation-Based Inspections

  1. Children's Safety
  2. Customer Service, Professional and Competent Inspectors

Annual Licensing/ Renewal Inspection with multiple observation visits

  • The observation-based inspection is different from normal renewal or mid-year inspections. These inspections are designed to allow child care programs to be observed in a non-violation format. Licensing officials will be giving suggestions on how child care programs can make changes to keep future violations from occurring
  • These inspections are designed to help all child care programs and after school programs be more proactive at identifying areas where potential violations may occur, and fixing the situation before a violation does occur. They include technical assistance on applicable laws, rules, regulations and policies designed to keep children safe in their child care environments.
  • There will be multiple observations during the license year to review the spectrum of care in the facility, with each observation covering certain transition periods/time
  • You will NOT be contacted by your licensing official to schedule the observation-based inspection.
  • Only Class I and some Class II violations will be subject to penalties. Class III violations will be corrected on site using a Plan of Correction and will NOT be subject to penalties during observation-based inspections. All violations will still be subject to penalties during Program Renewal and Mid-Year Inspections. See Rule 1.25.9(1) pg. 108

Example Transition Periods

  • First thing in the morning as children arrive to the facility and transitions to class or activity times
  • Class time transitioning to playground activities or lunch
  • Lunch time transitioning to rest periods, outside activities, on instruction periods which may include after school student arrival processes
  • Afternoon activities transitioning to end of day and children being picked up or transported

Observation Periods

  • Each observation period should be at least two hours but may be more depending on the complexities of the Child Care Center’s program and their hours of operation

Questions and Answers

What is the overall purpose of observation-based inspections?
To observe childcare programs during transition periods and offer technical assistance as needed.

When do the observation-based inspection visits start?
The observation-based inspections started January 1, 2023.

Inspection Visits

Will observations be published on the MSDH Website?
All observation-based inspections are made available for public view.

Who will be conducting the observation-based inspections?
The Licensing Official who conducts the facility’s annual inspections.

Is the center’s Director required to be present at the visits or accompany the Licensing Official during the visit?
It is recommended.

Will an observation-based inspection start with a conversation between the Licensing Official and the Director?
Yes, or the person in charge.

Who will be receiving observation-based inspections?
All MSDH licensed facilities will receive observation-based inspections.

For afterschool programs lasting only three hours a day, will observations still be two hours?
Times may vary depending on the facility type.

Will the observation-based inspection be scheduled?

Will the facilities have an opportunity to evaluate the Licensing Official?

Inspection Implementation

Will only one room be observed during each observation?
Observation-based inspections will be focused on one room however, the Licensing Official may observe additional rooms during transition periods.

What are "transition periods"?
Arrival or departure from the facility, mealtime, outside time, nap time and bathroom/diapering.

Centers have different daily schedules. How will the Licensing Official know what times to visit?
Transition periods are the focus for observation-based inspections. We would ask all centers to make sure you have an up-to-date daily schedule posted in each classroom.

What is considered a transition period for after school other than arrival?
Snack time, bathroom time, outside time, and departure.

Will the Licensing Official discuss the observation with the Director the same day or will we get something emailed at a later time?
Your Licensing Official will not leave your facility without discussing areas observed where technical assistance was provided during the observation. Those areas will be documented, and a copy will be emailed or given to the Director during the exit interview.

Does the Licensing Official randomly choose the classroom, or can we suggest a room that needs help?
During the initial visit, the Director can request the Licensing Official observe specific transition periods or classrooms that have been identified as problem areas.

Is there a checklist available for what the Licensing Officials will be looking for?
There is not a checklist. A copy of the observation-based inspection form will be provided to the facility at the time of inspection, as well as, posted on the MSDH website.

Possible Violations, Penalties and Fines

Will there be appeal procedures if we disagree?
No appeal is needed unless a class one or a class two violation is issued. If a class one or class two violation is issued, there will be appeal procedures available.


Should parents be informed of the observation-based inspections?


What happens when a staff member is late for work or happens to not show up for work and we are short staffed that morning?
Staff-to-child ratio will be an area observed during the inspection. Technical assistance will be provided if necessary.

Last reviewed on Feb 14, 2024 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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