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How Do I Start a Daycare in Michigan?

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So, you want to start a new or childcare center or daycare in Michigan? It involves several steps to ensure compliance with state regulations and create a safe, nurturing environment for children. Here is a detailed list of how to begin your journey to open your own daycare or childcare center:

  • Firstly, conduct thorough research on Michigan’s licensing requirements for daycare facilities, which typically include background checks for staff, minimum caregiver-to-child ratios, and safety standards for the physical environment.
  • Next, develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s mission, services offered, target market, and financial projections.
  • Secure a suitable location that meets zoning requirements and provides ample space for play and learning activities. Obtain necessary permits and licenses from local authorities and apply for accreditation from organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for added credibility.
  • Invest in quality equipment, toys, and educational materials while prioritizing child safety measures such as secure entry systems and first aid supplies.
  • Finally, recruit and train qualified staff members who share your passion for early childhood education and are equipped to provide a supportive and enriching experience for young learners.
Regularly review and update your policies and procedures to ensure compliance with state regulations and maintain the highest standards of care for the children entrusted to your daycare. As always, use as a resource for any and all of your daycare needs. This is the oldest and best daycare and childcare website. It has helped over 45 millions parents search for care over the last 26 years!

Do I need a childcare license in Michigan?

Yes! This is a must! To provide childcare services in Michigan, you must obtain a license from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Child Care Licensing Division (LARA). LARA oversees the licensing process for three distinct types of childcare establishments: childcare centers, group childcare centers, and family childcare homes. The type of license you obtain largely hinges on whether you intend to start a childcare program within a residence or in a non-residential building. Here are the legal definitions for each childcare organization, as outlined by Michigan law: A Child Care Center (CCC) is a facility, excluding private residences, that caters to one or more children under 13 years old for less than 24 hours per day. Additionally, facilities providing care for more than two consecutive weeks, regardless of daily care hours, are classified as childcare centers and necessitate a childcare center license. You can register your child care center for free at A Family Child Care Home (FCCH) is a private residence serving between one and six children for less than 24 hours per day, excluding children related to household members. Instead, an FCCH is where care is extended to an unrelated child for more than four weeks during a calendar year. You can register your family child care home for free at A Group Child Care Home (GCCH) is a private residence serving between seven and 12 unrelated children for less than 24 hours per day for more than four weeks. This capacity limit excludes children related to an adult household member. To get more parents for your services, please visit For comprehensive definitions of these license types and associated regulations, consult the LARA Child Care Licensing Rules and Statutes site. Once you comprehend these distinctions and make a decision, you can proceed to draft a business plan for your childcare program. Daycare in Michigan

Childcare licensing requirements in Michigan

Michigan, like most states, has a lot of laws and requirements for childcare and daycare businesses. The subsequent phase in establishing a childcare enterprise is verifying your eligibility for licensure. Specific qualifications are necessary to acquire a license and manage various types of childcare programs in Michigan. Nonetheless, there are also broad requirements that pertain to all individuals seeking childcare licensure, which encompass: Being capable of meeting children’s needs adequately Ensuring that services and facilities provided promote the well-being of children Conducting oneself in a manner that prioritizes the welfare of children Exhibiting a readiness and capacity to adhere to state-established acts and regulations

Here are some requirements to be a childcare provider

Childcare centers

The director of a childcare center is required to meet the following requirements as a license applicant:
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have earned a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED)
  • Have at least one of the following education credentials:
    • Bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education or child development
    • Bachelor’s degree or higher in a child-related field, including 18 semester hours in early childhood education or child development, and 480 hours of experience
    • Montessori credential, 18 semester hours in early childhood education or child development, and 480 hours of experience
    • Associate’s degree in early childhood education or child development, including 18 semester hours in early childhood education or child development, and 480 hours of experience
    • Valid Child Development Associate (CDA) credential with 18 semester hours in early childhood education or child development and 960 hours of experience
    • 60 semester hours with 18 semester hours in early childhood education or child development and 1,920 hours of experience

Family and group childcare homes

The director of family and group childcare homes is required to meet the following requirements as a license applicant:
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma, general educational development (GED) certificate, or approved training track and hours for child care home providers through MiRegistry
  • Permanently reside in the childcare home as a member of the household
  • Have proof of certification for infant, child, and adult CPR and first aid. This is vital for safety of the children under your care!
  • Complete trainings in recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect, and prevention and control of infectious disease
  • Attend an orientation provided by the LARA Child Care Licensing Division

Ratio requirements

Besides the provider prerequisites, there are also guidelines regarding staff-to-child ratios, which are contingent upon the age of the children and include a maximum group size.

Childcare Center Ratios:

Infants and toddlers (birth to 30 months of age):
  • Ratio: 1 staff member for every 4 children (1:4)
  • Maximum group size: 12
Preschoolers (30 months to 3 years of age):
  • Ratio: 1 staff member for every 8 children (1:8)
  • Maximum group size: 16
Preschoolers (3 to 4 years of age):
  • Ratio: 1 staff member for every 10 children (1:10)
  • Maximum group size: 30
Preschoolers (4 years of age to school age):
  • Ratio: 1 staff member for every 12 children (1:12)
  • Maximum group size: 36

School age:

  • Ratio: 1 staff member for every 18 children (1:18)
  • Maximum group size: 36

Family and group childcare homes

In family and group childcare homes, the ratio standard mandates one childcare provider for every six children (1:6). Additionally, for each staff member, a maximum of four children may be under 30 months old, with no more than two of those four being under 18 months old. This ratio must encompass all children not related to the provider. Furthermore, any children under 6 years old who are the provider’s own children, children of a staff member or assistant, or children related to any household member by blood, marriage, or adoption must also be factored into the ratio.

Childcare license application in Michigan

The procedure for applying for a childcare license varies depending on the type of program you intend to initiate. LARA offers a detailed Resource Guide to Child Care Licensure in Michigan, providing step-by-step instructions for the application process. Below is an outline summarizing the steps for establishing a childcare center. Daycare in Michigan

Childcare Center Licensing Process:

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with Licensing Rules As a childcare provider, it is imperative to adhere to the regulations set forth in Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers and the Child Care Organizations Act. Familiarize yourself with these rules to ensure compliance and to establish a safe and healthy environment for children. Step 2: Select a Site Location Selecting a suitable site location for your daycare is crucial, as the license is specific to the chosen location and not transferable. Consider various factors such as proximity to residential areas with families when choosing a site. Obtain approval from the local municipality to offer childcare services at the selected location, adhering to local zoning ordinances and undergoing fire and lead risk assessments. Step 3: Application Submission and Fee Payment After familiarizing yourself with the licensing rules and prerequisites and selecting a daycare site, it is time to proceed with submitting your application and associated fees online. To begin, you will need to create a MILogin account and choose the appropriate application for the type of childcare business you intend to establish. Throughout the application process, you will be required to provide various forms and supporting documents for assessment and approval to meet your specific licensing requirements. Some of the documents that may be requested include:
  • Staffing plan
  • Qualifications of the program director
  • Documentation of negative tuberculosis tests for staff
  • Procedures for screening prior criminal convictions, abuse, or neglect of children for staff
  • Staff training plan
  • Documentation confirming CPR training for staff
  • Discipline policy
  • Policies regarding nutrition and food
  • Schedule of operations
  • Emergency evacuation plan
For additional details on the types of supporting documentation that may be requested, you can refer to the LARA website. Additionally, you will be required to pay your licensing fee, which may vary from $150 to $300 depending on the capacity of the childcare center. Step 4: Engage with a Licensing Consultant If you seek a deeper understanding of the overall process or have inquiries, schedule an appointment with a licensing consultant. These professionals are equipped to address questions regarding licensing rules and regulations. Step 5: Conduct Environmental Inspections Numerous preliminary site inspections are conducted during the application process before license issuance, ensuring the chosen location is suitable and safe for childcare. These inspections encompass:
  • A fire safety inspection carried out by a qualified fire safety inspector. If you plan to operate in a new construction facility or intend to renovate your selected location, you must submit plans to the Bureau of Fire Services for review.
  • An environmental health inspection administered by the local health department. Submit the Environmental Health Inspection Request form to the appropriate local health department. The form provides instructions on requesting a health inspection and determining the suitable health department for your county.
  • A playground safety inspection conducted by a certified playground safety inspector (CPSI) to ensure compliance of playground equipment and outdoor play areas. For additional information on playground inspections and documentation of playground safety, visit the playground inspection webpage.
  • A lead hazard risk assessment if your building was constructed before 1978. A certified lead risk assessor must perform the assessment.
This list is not exhaustive and additional site inspections may be required. Completing these reviews and others will identify potential issues and necessary adjustments early in the process, potentially expediting the application process and allowing time for compliance adjustments to meet Michigan’s childcare requirements. Step 6: Undergo Fingerprinting and Background Checks Every applicant, staff member, assistant, and unsupervised volunteer must undergo fingerprinting and successfully clear a comprehensive background check. Step 7: Complete Mandatory Trainings Staff members and unsupervised volunteers must fulfill specific training requirements, including orientation sessions, CPR training, first aid training, and health and safety courses. Step 8: Pass Onsite Inspection An onsite inspection will be conducted by a licensing consultant. You will coordinate with the consultant to schedule the inspection at a mutually convenient time. The consultant may take photographs during the inspection to document their observations. Step 9: Obtain Your Childcare License Once you have completed the application process, submitted all necessary inspection reports, successfully passed the onsite assessment, and made any required adjustments, LARA will evaluate your compliance with regulations. Upon confirmation of compliance, you will be issued an original six-month license. Subsequently, you will receive a renewal packet after six months, and your licensing consultant will conduct a renewal inspection. A regular two-year license will be issued if the center remains in compliance with regulations.

Family and group childcare homes

The procedures for obtaining a family or group childcare home license follow a similar framework to that of a childcare center. However, due to their home-based nature, the building requirements are less stringent. Here is an overview of the steps involved in obtaining a family or group childcare license. Step 1: Application Submission and Fee Payment Before submitting your application, review the Licensing Rules for Family and Group Child Care Homes and the Child Care Organizations Act. Complete and submit your application online, along with all necessary documents. The online application requires a non-refundable fee of $50 for family homes and $100 for group homes. Step 2: Medical Clearance Request Submission You and your physician must complete a medical clearance request, available on the LARA Child Care Licensing Forms page. This form verifies your mental and physical health status. Step 3: Completion of Required Training and Certifications Several courses are mandatory for licensure, accessible on MiRegistry. Create an account and locate the “Health and Safety Training for Licensed Child Care Providers” course. Additionally, complete the “Safe Sleep Practices” course. Obtain infant, child, and adult CPR and first aid certifications from an approved training organization. Step 4: Fingerprinting and Background Checks All applicants/licensees, childcare staff members and assistants, unsupervised volunteers, and adult household members must undergo fingerprinting and comprehensive background checks. Step 5: Orientation Session Attendance Upon submission of all required documentation, you will be invited to attend a six-hour licensing orientation. Step 6: Onsite Inspection Passage A licensing consultant will schedule an onsite inspection of your home. To prepare, utilize the Family and Group Child Care Home Compliance Record checklist to ensure compliance with the rules. Step 7: Original License Receipt If your license is approved, you will receive a six-month original license. Before its expiration, you will receive a renewal application packet. Upon submission of the completed packet and a renewal fee, another onsite inspection will be conducted. If approved, you will receive a regular license valid for two years. Daycare in Michigan

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Michigan

Once you’ve obtained your license, chosen a name for your childcare program, and commenced operations, it’s crucial to maintain compliance with childcare licensing regulations. For childcare centers, compliance entails adhering to all requirements outlined during the application process, maintaining a current license, and promptly completing renewals. Other compliance requirements include:
  • Ensuring the current license is accessible and visible to all.
  • Displaying a notice indicating that the center requires comprehensive background checks for all employees and unsupervised volunteers.
  • Ensuring that the number and ages of children in care never exceed the licensed capacity.
  • Releasing children only to individuals authorized by the child’s parent or guardian.
  • Obtaining written approval from the LARA Child Care Licensing Division before making any changes to the license terms, such as adding usage space, altering the center’s capacity, or modifying the age groups served.
  • Maintaining records of enrolled children and employees’ names, addresses, and telephone numbers for at least two years after they leave the center.
  • Ensuring comprehensive background checks and fingerprinting for all licensees, licensee designees, childcare staff members, childcare aids, and unsupervised volunteers.
  • Requiring all staff members and unsupervised volunteers to complete infant, child, and adult CPR and first aid training, as well as specific trainings on MiRegistry within 90 days of employment:
    • Management of Medication
    • Prevention and Management of Emergencies Arising from Food Allergies
    • Safety Measures for Buildings and Physical Facilities
    • Planning and Response to Emergencies
    • Safe Handling and Storage of Hazardous Substances, along with Proper Disposal of Biocontaminants
    • Safety Precautions for Transporting Children, where applicable
    • Understanding Child Development
All personnel directly engaged in childcare duties are required to fulfill 16 clock hours of annual professional development training covering topics pertinent to their job roles.

Family and group childcare homes

To ensure compliance, family and group childcare homes, along with their directors and staff, must adhere to all requirements specified during the application process. Moreover, maintaining a current license and promptly completing renewals are essential. Additional compliance prerequisites include:
  • The licensee must engage in at least 10 clock hours of annual training related to childcare, while staff members and assistants must undergo a minimum of five clock hours annually.
  • Before commencing childcare duties, all staff members must undergo training covering various topics such as:
  • Safe sleep practices to prevent sudden infant death syndrome
  • Recognition of and reporting child abuse and neglect
  • Prevention of shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, and child maltreatment
  • All staff must complete trainings on the following topics within 90 days of being hired or receiving a childcare license:
    • Child development
    • Administration of medication
    • Prevention of and response to emergencies related to food and allergic reactions
    • Handling and storage of hazardous materials, and proper disposal of biocontaminants
    • Precautions during the transportation of children
    • Safety protocols for buildings and physical premises
    • Emergency preparedness and response planning
  • CPR and first aid training certifications for all staff members must be kept up-to-date.
  • Proper records must be maintained for all employees and children under care.

Time to start your daycare in Michigan!

Achieving proficiency in the application process, understanding training prerequisites, and acquainting yourself with state regulations are the foundational steps towards obtaining licensure as a daycare provider in Michigan. Strategic planning and utilization of available resources will enhance your efforts to establish a reputable childcare enterprise in your community. The absolute best way to market your daycare and utilize coming tools such as all-in-one waitlist management, payment processing, and single scan solutions for parent updates, is to sign up at

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