How to Plan and Design Child Care Centers

Between infancy and school age, a child may spend up to 12,500 hours in a child care facility. Because children spend such long hours in child care centers, facilities located in GSA-managed spaces must meet special design requirements that exceed base guidelines for federal buildings.

To provide specific guidelines for creating spaces that are functional child-oriented spaces that promote a child’s health, development and creativity, GSA has published the GSA Child Care Center Design Guide. Visit the Child Care Resource Library for a copy.

The guide contains criteria for planning and designing child care centers in GSA-owned or controlled spaces. It is intended for use in developing future centers and expanding or renovating existing ones. It aims not only to specify design criteria but also to explain the rationale for the criteria in order to enhance professional judgment.

People who will use this guide:

  • Architects and engineers who will provide building and design services for child care centers in GSA-managed spaces
  • GSA Regional Child Care Coordinators" to "GSA Child Care Program Managers
  • GSA Property Managers to maintain all centers and improve existing ones to meet the benchmarks set in the Guide.
  • GSA managers for guidance in repair and replacement of existing conditions and equipment.
  • GSA Real Estate Specialists when developing Requests for Proposals (RFP) and Solicitation for Offers (SFO) for the procurement of child care center space.
  • Federal agencies planning to contract with private sector architectural firms to establish new centers or renovate existing ones.

Sustainable Facilities: SFTool

Child care facilities have unique considerations for sustainable design and operation. The Sustainable Facilities Tool, is an interactive website created by the GSA Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. The Child Care Centers module is dedicated to helping new and existing child care programs consider sustainable design, function, operation and materials. Visit the SFTool website or read more about "Why Greening Child Care Centers Matters".

Last Reviewed: 2021-09-21