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How to get a daycare license: Official guide

To be able to educate and empower young minds is a great responsibility. Teachers, social workers, and other child development professionals are all tasked with protecting and nurturing youth throughout their earliest stages, often doubling as educators and caregivers.

When it comes to interacting with children regularly, working at a daycare can be one of the most rewarding occupations. However, the path to becoming a child care professional has many layers. If you love kids, the following will outline the steps you need to take to enter the child care arena successfully.

Why do I need a daycare license to open my own daycare?

If you’re interested in starting your own daycare, one of the first things you’ll want to do is obtain a daycare license. A daycare license ensures that you—the license holder—have met the minimum mandated requirements put forth by your state or local government and have passed the necessary compliance programs, fingerprinting, and background checks to operate a daycare legally.

Without a daycare license, your operation may be viewed with skepticism and might be operating in violation of your state’s Department of Health. There’s also a greater potential for child abuse in an unlicensed family child care home than in the environment of licesned family child care providers.

How much does a daycare license cost?

Daycare license requirements vary by state, as do the fees necessary to secure the license. In most states, license fees will run between $100 and $200, with additional costs coming from completing education and training mandates.

Initial start-up cost estimates for becoming a home-based child care provider are between $10,000 and $50,000, while initial start-up cost estimates for launching a child care center run from $60,000 to $3 million.

If you choose to start your daycare without obtaining a daycare license, you will incur substantially greater costs over time than if you become licensed in the first place. In most states, operating a child care facility without a daycare license will subject your daycare to daily fines. In states like California, those fines can amount to $200 per day.

To save you time, money, and boatloads of unnecessary paperwork, it’s essential you secure your daycare license before launching your daycare. However, if you’re watching one or two kids in a family home and not opening a daycare center, you’re not required to obtain a daycare license.

How long does it take to get a daycare license?

The average daycare licensing process is around 6 months. During this timeframe, you’ll need to complete the following qualifications:

1) Possess a GED, high school diploma, or college degree
If you already have your educational documentation, you’re all set! If not, you’ll want to start here, which may elongate the time it will take to complete your licensing process.

2) Complete your state or local government’s daycare licensing process
Here you’ll need to review your state’s specific licensing requirements and complete the application process.

3) Pass an inspection of your home or daycare facility
Your home or daycare facility will need to pass inspection to make sure it operates according to human services, social services, and the department of health.

4) Complete first aid and CPR training
The health and safety of children are paramount, so being trained and equipped with lifesaving emergency preparedness skills is a vital component to acquiring your daycare license.

5) Continuing your education and professional development
Continuing to learn and grow as an individual is important to your own personal evolution. As you finalize becoming a licensed daycare professional, you’ll become knowledgeable in:

  • The supervision of children
  • Building safety, emergency exits, and other safety training
  • Building cleanliness
  • Child-staff ratio and group size
  • Immunizations and hygiene
  • Nutritional foods
  • Training, education, and technical assistance

While each state has its own daycare licensing processes, each state also mandates the same basic requirements. Most child care centers are licensed based on the age of the children, the number of children served, and the type of childcare offered—either a community facility or home-based, also known as a home daycare.

Daycare license requirements from state to state

The requirements for daycare licensure may vary from state to state due to differences in state law. Consulting The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations is a fantastic resource for finding the correct contact information and websites about the specific state daycare licensing information you’re looking for.

How do you get a childcare license?

Contacting your state or local government is the easiest way to begin the process of obtaining a child care license. By visiting your state’s regional office or conducting a simple web search, you can start reviewing the specific statewide regulations and requirements for where you reside.

How much money do you make owning a daycare?

If you’re the owner of a licensed child care center, you may make a modest living, but your income will not support a lavish lifestyle. Some reports estimate the average daycare owner’s annual salary to be between $20,000 and $35,000, while others estimate the figure to be over $60,000. Regardless of how much money you’re paid for conducting your child care services, if you work in the child care program arena, you should be pursuing the path because they love the work, not because they’re looking to become a millionaire.

What certifications do I need to open a daycare?

The following are some of the main certifications required if you’re looking to open a daycare:

  • CPR and first aid
  • Nutrition and cooking courses
  • Infant care classes and certifications
  • Professional nanny certification
  • Nanny basic skills assessment
  • A driver’s license

How many staff members are required to watch children in daycare?

The number of staff members required to watch children in a daycare varies depending on how many children are present and their ages. In general, the younger the children, the greater the number of staff members required to be present.

Childcare.gov outlines the following guide to cover best practices:

  • For infants (0-12 months), one trained adult is recommended for every 3 to 4 infants
  • For young toddlers (1-2 years), one trained adult is recommended for every three to six young toddlers
  • For older toddlers (2-3 years), one trained adult is recommended for every 4 to six older toddlers
  • For preschoolers (3-5 years), one trained adult is recommended for no more than 6 to 10 preschoolers
  • For school-aged kids (5 and up), one trained adult is recommended for no more than 10 to 12 school-aged children

What is the difference between a daycare and a preschool?

The main difference between daycare and preschool is all in the name. Daycare is exactly what it sounds like: Caring for a child. Preschool is also what it sounds like: Schooling youth before they start kindergarten.

The other main difference between daycare and preschool is the age of the children. In preschool, those children are generally six weeks and older. In preschool, children are typically between the ages of 2 and 5 years old.

Secure small business insurance for your daycare with Huckleberry

After all of your daycare license requirements have been filled, you can then procure daycare insurance. While the requirements for the different types of business insurance available to you will also vary by state, the underlying policies that help protect your daycare business from potential lawsuits or damages will be similar across all state lines. For all of your daycare insurance needs, journey over to Huckleberry.

Huckleberry provides you with all of the insurance policies relevant to your daycare operation. In just 5 minutes or less, you’ll receive an insurance quote, which is less time than it takes to warm a bottle. So while you’re busy tending to the children and making sure they put their best little feet forward, know that Huckleberry has your back and is helping you reach your goals every step of your journey.


Disclaimer

All content on this page is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any specific case, is not legal, tax or insurance advice and should not be relied upon. If you have any questions about the situation for your small business or the latest information in your state, you should contact an attorney for legal advice, an insurance agent or broker, and/or your state's labor or industry agency, board, commission or department. Please note that the information provided on this page may change at any time as a result of legislative action, court decisions or rules adopted or amended by any state or the federal government.

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