North Carolina does not have a state law regarding teens and babysitting. This means that there is no state prohibition against a teenager providing child care in their home or in the home of the child’s parent. A nonprofit that provides parents with a referral to child care facilities will not provide contacts for teenagers who babysit.
As to formal employment that does not involve caregivers, North Carolina law provides that a teen 13 years of age or younger may not be employed. The exception is teens 12 and 13 years old may be employed outside school hours to distribute newspapers to consumers, but not more than three hours a day.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) laws promulgated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) govern the employment of teens 14 and 15. Child care is not one of the hazardous or detrimental professions for teens ages 14 and 15.
Fire Code Restrictions in North Carolina
North Carolina’s only statewide law with a specific age restriction is the North Carolina Fire Code. This law provides that a child under the age of 8 cannot be left alone unsupervised. Determining whether a child 8 and older can be left alone unsupervised depends on the maturity and skills of the child.
A teenager should babysit the number of children to which they can provide care in a practical and safe manner. This depends on the ages and temperaments of the children for which they are caring, as well as the total number of children in the residence.
There is no prohibition against a person 13 years of age babysitting a child, and there is no specific age, such as 11 or 13, that a babysitter must be to care for children.
Community-specific Child Care Rules
A specific community, such as a military installation, may have its own rules regarding child care. For example, Fort Bragg’s Home Alone Policy applies to children ages 17 and younger who live in quarters at Fort Bragg, use Fort Bragg facilities, walk to and from school from Fort Bragg and are at bus stops in Fort Bragg.
The policy provides that a child under age 17, who is in grades 7 through 12 may provide supervision for non-siblings if they have completed the Army Child, Youth and School Services (CYSS) babysitter certification class or equivalent. A child in these grades does not have to have completed the class to care for siblings.
Supervision of Child Babysitters
A child in grades seven and eight is allowed to provide direct supervision for another, presumably younger, child for no more than four consecutive hours a day.
A parent or adult should check in with the child providing care as circumstances dictate, but at least once every two hours. The child providing care is expected to be mature and competent in “home alone” skills such as knowing how to respond to a minor crisis, like being locked out of the house.
Employment for Teens 14 and Older
A teen 14 or 15 years of age may not be employed in any occupation except those determined by DOL to be permitted occupations under FLSA. In permitted occupations, youths may be employed for:
- No more than three hours a day when school is in session for the youth.
- No more than eight hours a day when school is not in session for the youth.
- Only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except up to 9 p.m. during summer when school is not in session.
- No more than 40 hours in any one week when school is not in session for the youth.
- No more than 18 hours in any one week when school is in session for the youth.
- Only outside school hours.
Enrollees in high school apprenticeships or in work experience or career exploration programs defined as such under FLSA may work up to 23 hours in any one week when school is in session. Any portion of this labor may be during school hours.
No youths under 16 shall be employed for more than five consecutive hours without an interval of at least 30 minutes for rest. No period of less than 30 minutes is deemed to interrupt a continuous period of work.
Babysitting Classes for Teens
Nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross and YMCA of Greater Charlotte offer babysitting classes such as the safe sitter certification or babysitting basics course for youth 11 and up. These classes teach the basics of infant and child care, emergency procedures and age-appropriate activities for young children.
Participants who complete the class receive a printable certificate to show parents and guardians. Such courses may be offered online or in person. They are not state, county or city training that can provide a teenager with a permit or license to offer child care.
Child Care Licensing Requirements in North Carolina
Typically, there are two types of child care programs that North Carolina regulates: family child care homes and child care centers. A family child care home is located in a residence where more than two children, but less than nine children, receive child care. A child care center has three or more preschool-age children or nine or more school-age children receiving child care.
The definition of a child care center also includes a center located in a residence, where the licensed capacity is six through 12 children or up to 15 school-age children.
Programs that are exempt from North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ child care regulations include recreational programs operated for less than four consecutive months in a year, like summer camps; drop-in or short-term care while parents participate in activities that are not employment-related; child care at public schools; and vacation bible schools. Youth 13 and under cannot work at state-licensed programs.
Volunteering at Child Care Facilities
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services provides that a person who is at least 13, but less than 16 years of age, may work on a volunteer basis in a state-licensed child care facility. The volunteer must be supervised by, and work with, a staff person who is at least 21 years of age and meets staff qualification requirements.
Working on a volunteer basis means that the individual is not counted in the facility’s staff/child ratio, does not have unsupervised contact with children and is not monetarily compensated by the facility.
- North Carolina General Statutes: Section 95-25.5 Youth Employment
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: Chapter 9, Child Care Rules
- Wake County, North Carolina: Frequently Asked Questions
- Child Care Services Association: Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)
- Fort Bragg Policy or Precedent: Home Alone Policy
- Red Cross: Babysitting Training in North Carolina
- YMCA of Greater Charlotte: Babysitting Training
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: Child Care License Requirements Overview
- North Carolina Department of Labor: Hazardous and Detrimental Occupations for Youths
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.