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A Guide to Launching Your Daycare in Idaho

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Daycare Staff

At, our articles are penned by a dynamic team of seasoned experts who've spent years in the trenches with kids and daycare center owners. Imagine a mix of laughter, learning, and aha moments distilled into every article! From playful tips for early childhood education to navigating the wild ride of daycare provider life, we're your go-to source for reliable info with a side of fun.
Embarking on the journey of opening a daycare is fulfilling entrepreneurial endeavor that demands commitment, meticulous planning, and diligent effort. Establishing your childcare business provides an opportunity to positively influence the lives of the community’s children, offering them high-quality care and education.

In order to launch a daycare in Idaho, it is imperative to fulfill specific licensing prerequisites. This article delineates the various categories of childcare licenses available in Idaho, outlines the licensing criteria, elucidates the application procedure, and provides guidance on maintaining compliance with regulatory standards.

As always, use as a resource for any and all of your daycare needs. Is a childcare license necessary in Idaho? To operate a childcare program in Idaho, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare stipulates that programs caring for seven or more children and receiving compensation must acquire a childcare license. Exemptions from the childcare licensing requirement are granted to religious schools, day camps, and individuals tending to a neighbor’s, relative’s, or friend’s child. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare outlines various childcare licenses:
  • Daycare Center: An establishment caring for 13 or more children, encompassing both large centers (caring for over 25 children) and small centers (caring for 13 to 25 children).
  • Group Daycare Facility: A facility providing care for seven to twelve children.
  • Family Daycare Home: A home, place, or facility offering care for six or fewer children. While not mandatory, providers may choose to voluntarily obtain a license from the department.

Apply for Child Care Assistance

To qualify for the Idaho Child Care Program (ICCP), a family must meet the eligibility requirements below. Eligibility
  • Live in Idaho
  • Child must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
  • Show proof of identity
  • Have children under the age of 13 (or older if they have special needs)
  • Have a provider who is registered as an ICCP provider
  • Be working or in a qualified training or education program
  • Meet certain income guidelines
Daycare in Idaho Maximum monthly income limits
2 $2,876
3 $3,626
4 $4,375
5 $5,125
6 $5,875
7 $6,624
8 $7,374

How can I apply?

Apply over the phone or in person
  • Interview
  • Be prepared to provide this information with the application:
    • ID card
    • Household income
    • Current monthly child care expenses
    • If applicable, immigration status of each child
Apply by mail, email or fax
  • Download and complete an application
  • Then apply by either:
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Fax: 866-434-8278 (toll free)
    • Mail: Self Reliance Programs, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0026
  • Be prepared to provide this information with the application:
    • ID card
    • Household income
    • Current monthly child care expenses
    • If applicable, immigration status of each child
Childcare Licensing Criteria in Idaho Before establishing a daycare center in Idaho, providers are required to fulfill the licensing and training criteria set forth by the Department of Health and Welfare to obtain a daycare license.

Provider Criteria

All applicants for a childcare license must adhere to the following criteria:
  • The provider must be a minimum of 18 years old.
  • Background checks are mandatory for all childcare center applicants, staff, and household members aged 13 and above.
  • Presence of at least one staff member certified in pediatric CPR and first aid on the premises.
  • Staff members, including owners or operators, must undergo four hours of annual training related to child development.
  • Comprehensive record-keeping is essential, covering staff members, children under care, and individuals aged 13 and older with unsupervised direct contact with children or regular presence on the premises.

Facility Criteria

Childcare facilities must meet health and safety standards through:
  • Successful completion of a health and safety inspection.
  • Availability of a functional telephone and appropriate fire safety measures, including alarms, extinguishers, and exits.
  • Prohibition of childcare in basements or on second stories without approved fire exits.
  • Maintenance of sleeping, play areas, and restrooms in a safe and sanitary condition.
  • Prevention of access to water hazards, such as pools or hot tubs, through fencing.
  • Confirmation by the local health district for well water usage, ensuring it comes from an approved source and is free of contamination.
  • Implementation of a disaster and emergency preparedness plan for all facilities.

Ratio Requirements

In adherence to fire code standards, the department establishes the maximum permissible child-to-staff ratio using a point system. A minimum of one adult employee must be present whenever children are in attendance. The maximum allowable child-to-staff ratio is determined by assigning points based on the age of each child present, as outlined below:
  • Each child under 24 months is equivalent to two (2) points.
  • Each child between 24 months and under 36 months old is equivalent to one and one-half (1 ½) points.
  • Each child between 36 months and under five years old is equivalent to one (1) point.
  • Each child between five years and under 13 years old is equivalent to one-half (½) point.
Whether you are initiating a home preschool or managing a larger facility, utilizing tools like SimplySafeChild’s center management feature can streamline administrative tasks, providing easy access to enrollment details, staff assignments, and comprehensive staff and child records. Provider/Child Ratio
Age Range Ratios For Center Based Care for Idaho State
The maximum allowable worker:child ratio shall not exceed twelve (12) points. The number of points is determined by using the following point system:
Less than 2 Years 5 Children:1 staff / 10 Children:2 staff / 15 Children:3 staff
2 Years 6 Children:1 staff / 12 Children:2 staff / 18 Children:3 staff
3 – 4 Years 10 Children:1 staff / 20 Children:2 staff / 30 Children:3 staff
5 – 12 Years 10 Children:1 staff / 20 Children:2 staff / 30 Children:3 staff
Point System
The maximum allowable points for each staff member is twelve (12), using the following point system which is based on the age of each child in attendance
Under 24 months 2 points
24 months to under the age of 36 months 1.2 points
36 months to under the age of 5 years 1 point
5 years to under the age of 13 years ½ point
Daycare in Idaho   License application, fees, and requirements State licenses are granted by the Department of Health and Welfare, with the assistance of customer support specialists from IdahoSTARS who gather the necessary documentation and guide applicants through the state licensing procedure. If you aspire to become a state-licensed provider, carefully review all the information essential for both the application process and maintaining licensure. Additionally, reach out to your city or county planning and zoning office to ascertain if there are any requirements that could impede compliance with local ordinances and completion of the licensing process. Upon submission of your application to IdahoSTARS, a referral is initiated to your local public health district for the collection of the licensing fee. Subsequently, your health district will get in touch with you, providing details on how to fulfill the fee payment. The specific fee amount is determined based on the criteria outlined below.
Large center with 26 or more children in attendance at any time $325
Small center with 13-25 children in attendance at any time $250
Group facility with 7-12 children in attendance at any time $100
Family home with 6 or less children in attendance at any time $100
Licensing requirements

Daycare Licensing in the State of Idaho

Families opting for licensed child care programs can be confident that:
  • The facility has successfully undergone fire, safety, and health inspections.
  • Adults working in child care facilities have passed comprehensive background checks.
  • Children enrolled in the program meet vaccination requirements.
  • Employees receive annual training covering health, safety, and quality in child care.
Licensing and Exemptions Idaho state law has instituted daycare licensing standards to safeguard the health and safety of children. City and county governments hold the authority to establish and enforce their own licensing requirements. It’s important to note that adherence to local ordinances or participation in specific programs may necessitate licensing, even if exemption criteria are met. Exemption
  • The occasional or irregular care of a neighbor’s, relative’s, or friend’s child or children by an individual not typically engaged in the child care business.
  • The operation of a private school or religious school for educational purposes, catering to children aged four and above, or a religious kindergarten.
  • Occasional care exclusively provided for children of parents concurrently present in the same building.
  • The operation of day camps, programs, and religious schools lasting less than 12 weeks during a calendar year or occurring no more frequently than once a week.
  • Providing care for children within the second degree of relationship (parents, stepparents, grandparents and their spouses, uncles and aunts and their spouses, first cousins and their spouses, nephews and nieces and their spouses, siblings, and their spouses).
  • Facilities licensed by a city or county, not necessitating state licensing. For details regarding city or county licensing requirements, contact your local county or city.
Note: Local ordinances or participation in certain programs may require you to be licensed even if you meet exemption criteria.


In order to maintain state licensing, each owner or operator of a center licensed by the department is obligated to receive and ensure that each staff member undergoes and completes four hours of continuous training every 12 months, commencing from the staff member’s date of hire. The term “training” refers to ongoing education in child development areas relevant to child care. Child care providers enrolled in the Idaho Child Care Program (ICCP) must fulfill a series of complimentary online courses addressing various health and safety topics specific to Idaho providers. Regarding state licensing, the training will be considered valid if completed after the staff member’s hire date. It will be credited for the licensing period during which the training occurred and will be counted only once. Providers licensed by their city should verify with the city to confirm if these trainings align with local ordinances.

IdahoSTARS Approved Trainers

Enhancing Child Care Quality

Trainers play a crucial role in advancing IdahoSTARS’ mission to elevate the quality of child care across Idaho. Child care providers benefit from trainers by:
  • Gaining heightened awareness of current topics in the Early Care and Education field.
  • Acquiring practical tools and skills applicable in their interactions with children and families.
Trainers contribute to IdahoSTARS by providing:
  • Up-to-date, professional, and high-quality training for child care providers.
  • Expertise derived from their own experiences and educational background.
IdahoSTARS Approved Trainings are created by trainers and staff who:
  • Recognize the nuances of adult learning.
  • Tailor training materials and content to support children with developmental delays and disabilities.
  • Integrate cultural responsiveness, endorsing principles of cultural humility that embrace diverse world views, perspectives, and practices.
  • Embrace the three learning styles: auditory, kinesthetic, and visual.
  • Reflect best practices, utilizing resources developed within the last 5 years.
  • Familiarize themselves with the Idaho Early Learning eGuidelines, designed to guide children’s development and learning. Trainers are encouraged to reference the Idaho Early Learning eGuidelines during each training opportunity.
  • Grasp the nuances of the Quality Domains.
Criminal history compliance The IDAPA standards mandate that each owner, operator, and applicant seeking licensure for a daycare center, group daycare facility, or family daycare home must provide documentation, deemed satisfactory by the department, demonstrating that owners, operators, staff, and all individuals aged 13 or older, engaged in unsupervised direct contact with children or regularly present on the premises, have successfully undergone and received clearance through a department criminal history and background check in accordance with sections 39-1105 and 39-1113 of the Idaho Code. A background check clearance obtained within the past three years is transferable to a new employer. However, when utilizing a transferred department criminal history check clearance for licensing purposes, it must be an enhanced clearance, and the new employer must ensure that a new Idaho State Police name-based record check is conducted, revealing no disqualifying crimes. For additional details, refer to our Facts and Guidelines on Criminal History Compliance. Daycare in Idaho Insurance and fire inspections Proof of Liability and Fire Insurance and a copy of your approved Fire Safety Inspection must be submitted with the daycare license application. Local Compliance Information Your city or county may have local ordinances related to daycare which cover Building Codes, Electrical Codes and Planning and Zoning Codes. Proof of Compliance with Local Ordinances must be submitted with the daycare license application. These documents could include:
  • Business Licenses
  • Home Occupation Certificates
  • Special Use Permits
  • A letter from your city or county stating you are in compliance with local ordinances
Verification of Pediatric CPR and Pediatric First Aid Certifications in pediatric rescue breathing, infant-child CPR, and first aid treatment must be submitted with your license application. Certification needs to be completed through a course offered by a certified instructor. Online courses are not accepted. Referral and Completion of the Health Inspection Once the customer support specialist forwards the referral to the public health district indicating your readiness for a health inspection, the public health district will reach out to you to schedule and conduct the necessary inspection. Records Requirements It’s important to keep good records about staff, the children who have attended, and the children currently attending a facility for at least 12 months. Read the complete list of record requirements to find out what kind of information you must keep on file to be in compliance for your license.


IdahoSTARS licensing program

4355 W. Emerald St. Boise, ID 83706 Ste. 250 Boise, ID 83706 Phone: 800-926-2588 (or dial 211) Email: [email protected] To best market your daycare and utilize coming tools such as all-in-one waitlist management, payment processing, and single scan solutions for parent updates, sign up at

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