Do I Need a License to Open a Home Day Care?
Whether or not you need a license to open a home day care depends on where you live. Requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions do require home day care providers to obtain licensing. Some may base their licensing requirements on the number of children cared for at one time while others may require all providers to earn licensing. In addition to a license to run a day care out of your home, you may need to obtain a basic business license as well.
Though requirements vary, you will usually have to obtain a day care license to run a day care out of your own home. In some places, you can care for a couple of children without obtaining a license, and you can almost always go to someone else’s home to babysit without a license. If you are running a childcare business out of your own home and caring for more than just a couple of children, however, you will most likely need a license. In fact, there are some jurisdictions that will require you to obtain a license, no matter how many children you choose to accept.
In many jurisdictions, securing a license to run a home day care is relatively easy. You’ll typically have to complete an application and pay a small fee to obtain licensing. Many jurisdictions will require you to attend a day care orientation and secure training in pediatric first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as well. Additionally, you will likely have to submit to a criminal background check, child abuse history check, and home inspection as part of the licensing process. You may also have to demonstrate that you are free of serious communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, to secure licensing.
Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you may also be required to obtain a business license to operate a home day care business. Securing this type of license basically means you have a right to operate a business, even if it is not a day care, in the jurisdiction. The process for obtaining one is usually simpler than securing a home day care license. In most cases, you are only required to complete an application and pay a fee for this type of license.
Though obtaining a home day care license may seem to be a chore, you can benefit from securing a license in a few different ways. Not only will you gain the right to operate a home day care, but you may also find that parents feel more comfortable enrolling their children if you are licensed. Additionally, you may be eligible to participate in jurisdiction-sponsored day care subsidization programs if you have a license. Such programs are often designed to help lower-income people pay for day care enrollment and help day care providers supply food for the children in their care.
Every so often, I'll read a story in my newspaper about an unlicensed day care center getting shut down. It's rarely a good thing, since a child either got injured or forgotten or abused. I can see why some people would want to operate an unofficial home day care center, but the penalties for not having a license can be pretty severe. I wouldn't want to risk that kind of legal exposure if something went wrong.
I had not idea how high day care costs can be, so it's easy to understand why some parents with lower incomes might be tempted to use an unlicensed child day care service. Most of them are probably run by decent people who honestly care about safety and supervision. But I think I would consider hiring a professional babysitter to watch my child in my own home before I'd consider an unlicensed day care facility.
I don't know if I'd even consider leaving my children at an unlicensed day care center. I might leave my child with a trustworthy babysitter at her home, but I think a home day care center with multiple children needs to be licensed. There's too many things that can go wrong.
I had a friend who wanted to start her own child day care business and she had to pass a lot of inspections before they gave her a license. The house had to have so many exits, and her kitchen had to be exceptionally clean and childproof. Anyone who lived in that house had to undergo a criminal background check. It was a challenging process, but now she runs one of the most popular home day care centers in my area.
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