OCFP

Office

of Child and Family Policy

 

Department of Children and Family Services

 

Index No: 2000-02

 

Issuance Date: February 1, 2000

 

Origin of Request: Child Care Center Architect

 

Distribution: Licensing Staff, Administrative Staff, Office of Child and Family Policy (A,L,P)

 

Key Words: 89 IAC 407, Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers, Outdoor Play Area, Fence, Enclosure, Entrapment.

 

Approved by:

 

Interpretation

 

Question: Can a fence for children under 2 years of age be made up of a 48 inch-high top rail, a bottom rail 3 inches off the ground, and vertical pickets spaced 3 inches apart or would additional horizontal slats spaced 3 inches apart be necessary to ensure that no openings are greater than 3 inches?

 

Applicable To: Licensed Day Care Centers

Policy Citation: Section 407.390 Outdoor Play Area

 

f) All play space shall be fenced or otherwise enclosed or protected from traffic and other hazards. Fences shall be at least 48 inches in height (for fences installed or replaced after January 1, 1998). Fences shall be constructed in such a way that children cannot exit without adult supervision. Corral-type fences and fences made of chicken wire shall not be used. Play areas for children under two years of age shall be enclosed so that the bottom edge is no more than 3 inches above the ground and openings in the fence are no greater than 3 inches.

 

(Source: Added at 22 Ill. Reg., effective January 1, 1998)

Discussion: The intent of Section 407.390 is twofold, to prevent entrapment and to keep children from exiting by climbing the fence. Vertical pickets spaced 3 inches apart provide a space small enough to prevent entrapment and not readily climbed by children under two. While 3 inch-spaced horizontal members placed squarely between the 3 inch-spaced vertical pickets prevent entrapment, they provides a 5 inch diagonal space and a plane in which a child could easily get a toehold and climb the fence. Although Section 407.390 (f) prohibits fence openings greater than 3 inches, the 44 inch gap between the top and bottom rails inhibits climbing and poses no greater entrapment risk that the 3 inch-square interweave design.

Response: A fence for children under 2 years of age may be constructed with a 48 inch-high top rail, a bottom rail 3 inches off the ground, and vertical pickets spaced 3 inches apart.