Anyone who runs a childcare business is responsible for providing the care and protection that children need in their developmental years. To make sure childcare owners are compliant with these standards of care, they need to meet licensing and certification requirements.
If you’re wondering how to get a childcare license for your new daycare center, you’ve come to the right place.
Why Get a Childcare License?
Having a childcare license proves that you can be trusted by parents, employees, and local childcare organizations. Getting a license reflects your ability to abide by government standards related to:
- Heath and sanitation
- Indoor and outdoor recreation safety
- Teacher-student ratios
- Emergency responses
- Employment background checks
- Nap time and sleep routines
- Food and snack preparation
- Incident reporting
- Curriculum frameworks
- And more
If you need help learning about all the daycare licensing requirements for your business, find a local Childcare Resource and Referral Agency to contact.
What Type of Childcare License do You Need?
To figure out what type of license you need, there are a few things you need to consider. First, different countries, states, and even local counties have different requirements for licensing, so do your research. Second, licensing requirements vary based on enrollment, affiliation, and type of childcare.
Most facility-based childcare centers must be properly licensed. Many at-home daycare centers must be licensed unless you only care for a small group of children. There are several licensing exemptions for both childcare centers and home daycares, depending on the area. Let’s review each type of licensing.
Child Care License for Childcare Centers
Since childcare centers are often the most frequented type of childcare business, licensing and regulation are a top priority. If you plan on opening a childcare center or daycare with plenty of room to scale your business, get licensed early so you have everything you need to do so safely and legally.
Family Child Care Home License
Some providers run at-home daycares or family childcare homes. Not all of these daycare providers are required to be licensed, but many are— especially those that are more established or have a larger student capacity. You need an in-home daycare license if you want to employ staff members and enroll more than a handful of students.
Exemptions from Child Care Licensing
Some religious and private daycare programs are exempt from obtaining a childcare license. Other in-home daycare providers don’t need a license if they’re only caring for children of the same household, whether in the family’s home or the home of the provider. Babysitters and nannies are also exempt from needing a license.
Always check with your local department of childcare to make sure you meet the requirements for licensing or exemption. In some cases, even with an exemption, childcare programs are still put on record with local childcare offices.
How to Get a Childcare License
The step-by-step process of getting your childcare license depends on your area. But there are a few general expectations you can have going into the process.
- Have the right level of education. To provide the nurturing environment and early childhood education young kids need, you need to have some sort of education.
- Attend an orientation. In most U.S. states, you’ll need to sign up and attend a pre-application orientation for interested childcare providers. This will cover everything you need to know about applying for a license and opening a daycare.
- Fill out an application. Complete the required childcare licensing forms and send an application to be reviewed by the state department of childcare. This often includes your personal information, compliance agreements, financial statements, etc.
- Undergo background checks. Licensed childcare providers must pass criminal background checks and fingerprint scans. You may also have to be cleared by state child abuse organizations.
- Pay required licensing fees. Once you send in all applications and screenings, you pay a licensing fee.
- Receive an on-site inspection. Before you can open your daycare business, your location (whether in-home or at a facility) must be inspected and approved.
- Wait for your license to process. After all the steps have been completed, you may need to wait to receive your licensure status. If you pass, you’re now ready to operate.
Getting a childcare or daycare license is a thorough process. Getting a license is the minimum requirement for providing adequate childcare. But remember: the logistics of running a professional daycare business don’t stop at license approval.
What You Need After You Become a Licensed Childcare Provider
Once you’ve gotten licensed, the process isn’t over. Even though you can show you’re capable of providing childcare that meets all the health and safety standards, you still need to keep up with implementing them. This is in the best interest of your staff, your company, and your customers. Here are some things to prepare for.
Keep Records at Your Daycare Business
Make sure to keep records of everything in your business. This includes:
- Annual license updates
- Inventory of supplies
- Tuition and billing
- Attendance records
- Developmental assessments
- Learning frameworks
- Cleaning schedules
- Nap and sleep schedules
- Incident and injury reports
- Mandated reporting
- Food allergies
- Emergency protocols
Failing to meet these requirements can get your childcare business shut down because it means you’re failing to maintain professional levels of care. One of the main reasons you must keep track of your records is to make sure you’re also prepared for random inspections.
Be Prepared for Periodic Inspections
As a licensed childcare business, you are subject to random state or local childcare inspections. This means a childcare authority can arrive unannounced to make sure you’re meeting all the rules and regulations that comply with licensing, as well as treating the children with respect in a healthy learning environment. Successfully coming through inspections is much easier if you ensure all of your records are well organized and easily accessible at any time.
Receive Legal Coverage
At some point, you might consider legal guidance for your childcare business. Legal assistance isn’t only for times of trouble. It can act as a protective measure and potentially save your business. You can prepare and safeguard yourself for situations such as someone trying to copy your brand, unreasonable disputes from parents, financial reconciliation, and more.
Manage All of Your Childcare Details in One Place
Getting and staying licensed for your childcare business may seem overwhelming. Fortunately, today there are a lot of digital tools available for busy daycare and childcare centers to keep track of everything in one place.
Having some type of childcare management software can help you and your team manage all licensing requirements throughout the year. From signed documents and learning assessments to incident reports and health checks, childcare software has everything you need to run your business legally and efficiently.
Ready to take charge of your licensed childcare business? For all your documentation and daycare management tasks, Daily Connect has you covered. Reach out and start your free trial today.