Preschools and childcare centers care for children from infancy up to the age of 16. Licensure through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is required for a vast majority of these programs.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) plays a role in inspecting and approving these facilities, which include all-day childcare, school-age programs, and before and after school programs. It also includes part-day preschools, and head start programs. The OSFM combines all these into two categories: preschools and childcare centers.
In order for a facility to be considered a preschool by OSFM, all of the following conditions must be met:
- All children are 3 years of age or older, up to age 16
- Sessions are not more than three hours per day
- Children are enrolled in only one session per day
- Meals are not served
- Napping does not take place
If all these conditions are met, the facility is considered a preschool and must meet the inspection requirements for a Group E Occupancy.
If any of the following conditions are met, the facility is considered a childcare center by OSFM:
- Provides care and educational activities for any children between the ages of two weeks and three years
- Sessions last between three hours and a full day
- Care is provided for more than three hours and less than 24 hours per day
- Meals are served
- Napping takes place
If any of these conditions are met, the facility is considered a childcare center and must meet the inspection requirements for a Group I-4 Occupancy. Childcare centers, especially those with children under 30 months, must meet a greater fire and life safety burden than education occupancies. Because of the younger children and their inability to preserve their own life in the event of an emergency, more stringent requirements are in place to compensate.