(Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

Here are some eyebrow-raising licensing rules, regulations and other tidbits about day-care centers and preschools in various states. These were collected by Noodle, an education website that offers help to parents and students to make better decisions about learning through interactive search tools and expert-authored articles. Noodle found them while creating  free preschool guides for parents, which detail different preschool options in each state.

Noodle notes on its website:

There are two key reasons why early education varies so dramatically from one state — and even one facility — to another. First, there are no national standards governing child care for preschool-aged children. Licensing laws vary from strict to lax — and oversight varies even more, with some states conducting regular inspections and others overlooking gross violations. Second, the U.S. does not provide universal access to public preschool programs, despite numerous studies demonstrating the long-term individual and societal benefits of early learning. In fact, the majority of 4-year-olds are not enrolled in a public pre-K — to say nothing of the vast majority of younger children with no public preschool options at all. As of 2013, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming did not provide any state funds at all to preschool.

If you are wondering what the difference between day-care centers and preschools are, here are a few: day-care centers usually have longer hours than the latter, take in children from infants to preschoolers, and may or may not have an educational philosophy (though many do).  Preschools won’t take infants and increasingly are focused on giving students academic work. In many cases, though, a good preschool may not be much different than a good day-care center.

Here is the list:

1. Michigan says you can trade and/or sell guns at child-care centers, but only when no children are present.
(Source: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dhs/BCAL-PUB-0724_212611_7.pdf[michigan.gov])

2. Utah mandates playgrounds must be free of animal excrement, but makes an exception for “isolated bird droppings.”
(Source: http://health.utah.gov/licensing/rules/Interpretation/Hourly/Section%206%20-%20Outdoor%20Environment.pdf[health.utah.gov])

3. Nebraska’s list of animals that can’t be brought to show-and-tell includes hybrid cats, gorillas, alligators, poisonous snakes and ducks (newborn baby chicks are okay so long as they are in incubation containers).
(Source: http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Licensure/Documents/QandAonNewPreschoolRegs.pdf[dhhs.ne.gov])

4. Nebraska also wants you to know that children must not be allowed to use water from livestock tanks for wading or swimming. Source: http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Licensure/Documents/RulesComplianceChecklistFCCHI.pdf

5. New Jersey mandates all preschool staff members be “trained in the method of keeping track of children.” It does not specify the form that such track-keeping training should take.
(Source: http://www.nj.gov/dcf/policy_manuals/NJAC-10-122-4.3_issuance.shtml)

6. Wyoming helpfully informs providers that “diarrhea” means “three (3) or more loose stools in a 24-hour period.”
(Source: http://soswy.state.wy.us/Rules/RULES/4428.pdf)

7. Louisiana and Missouri say corporal punishment of toddlers is permissible; Mississippi and Maryland both expressly forbid putting soap or pepper in a child’s mouth as a form of discipline at day care.
(*Louisiana Source: http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/LA_Child%20Day%20Care%20Center%20Class%20B%20Minimum%20Standards_H.pdf
*Missouri Source: http://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/pdf/Unregulated_facilities_general_differences.pdf
*Mississippi Source: http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/Mississippi_73%20Regulations_Title%2015_Part%2011.pdf
*Maryland Source: http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/comarhtml/13a/13a.15.01.02.htm)

8. North Dakota’s regulations read like a nightmarish SAT problem: Each adult can care for children totaling 1.34 points, and point levels vary by child age (i.e., 1-year-olds = 0.25 points,2-year-olds = 0.2 points, 3-year-olds = 0.14 points, etc.). Your fifth-grader: 0.05 points.
(Source: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:fkBQKYZBxAsJ:www.ndchildcare.org/file_download/7bd8e7bf-a712-43dc-b2e9-de5368990413+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us)

9. Want to know if your preschool is licensed? Or are  you looking for licensed hypnotists and fur breeders? Connecticut’s eLicensing database lets you search for all of them at the same site.
(Source: https://www.elicense.ct.gov/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx)

10. New Hampshire explicitly defines the word “child” as “child” in a list of administrative terms about preschools and child-care centers. (It says: “‘Child’ means ‘child’ as defined in RSA 170-E:2, II, namely “any person under 18 years of age.”)                            (Source: http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/oos/cclu/documents/finalrules.pdf [Page 1 of document])