National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) - Early Childhood Education - Pedagogy

Early Childhood Education

National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA)


The National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) is a U.S.-based, nonprofit organization for human care licensors. Chartered at Tulane University in New Orleans in 1976, NARA was founded on principles arising out of the scholarship of Norris Class. That scholarship helped licensors understand the conceptual and legal foundations of their profession and established the theoretical basis for licensing on which NARA’s education efforts continue to build.

NARA’s members formulate and enforce laws that set standards and protect vulnerable populations, including children in all forms of out-of-home care. Their responsibilities are intensive and technically demanding. Most are employed by governments in states, provinces and native nations in the United States, Canada, and the European Union.

NARA’s goal is to promote regulatory services that support its vision, “consumer protection through prevention,” and its focus is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge related to regulatory administration. NARA’s key activities focus on effective regulation and on education and professional recognition for licensors.

An annual licensing seminar serves as a forum for networking and knowledge exchange. That conference regularly attracts licensors from jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada, and a variety of other countries. In addition, NARA provides consultation to licensing agencies in all areas related to regulatory administration, including the drafting of child-care licensing rules. NARA also delivers formal regulatory training based on its Licensing Curriculum and other educational materials. Approved NARA consultants and trainers have successfully completed contracts across the United States and in Canada and abroad.

NARA sets standards for excellence in licensing through activities like the publication of a licensor code of ethics and position statements on topics such as the privatization of regulatory functions. NARA also adds to the growing body of knowledge about licensing and other regulatory processes by sponsoring and publishing its own research. To support these initiatives, extend the tradition of inquiry and honor the memory of one of its founders, NARA has established the Norris E. Class Lecture and Research Fund.

As an advocate and voice for child care licensing, NARA cooperates with other organizations, including the National Child Care Information Center, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Child Care Association, Child Welfare League of America, Healthy Child Care America’s Back to Sleep Campaign, and AAP/APHA/MCHB/HRSA initiatives related to Caring for Our Children. NARA is recognized as a Strategic Partner by Child Care Information Exchange Magazine.

NARA’s executive director and members of its board of directors respond to direct requests for technical assistance from state licensing agencies and others. Since January 2005, NARA has been responsible for developing and publishing the annual child-care licensing studies, previously published by The Children’s Foundation in partnership with NARA. NARA also disseminates information to support technical assistance in the licensing area through the NARA Licensing Newsletter, and maintains a website at

Licensors play a key role in the provision of early care and education. Out-of home care must comply with licensing laws enacted by governments to protect the health and safety of young children and establish a foundation for program quality. Through tiered quality initiatives and other measures, licensing systems are increasingly playing an expanded role as mechanisms for supporting providers and raising program quality. In fulfilling its vision, NARA assists licensors as they professionalize their activities and take steps to improve their ability to prevent harm to children and safeguard their future.

Further Readings: Colbert, J. (2002). Regulating dimensions of quality in early care and education: a review of the research. Conyers, GA: NARA; Gazan, H. (1997). Emerging trends in child care regulation. Conyers, GA: NARA; Koch, P., and N. Scalera (2001). The case against privatizing human care licensing. Conyers, GA: NARA; NARA Licensing Curriculum (1988; revised edition 2000). Conyers, GA: NARA; Stevens, C. (1995). NARA code of ethics. Conyers, GA: NARA.

Judith A. Colbert and Pauline Koch