How to Start a Daycare in California

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Starting a daycare in California requires careful planning and adherence to state regulations.

First, conduct thorough research on licensing requirements, which vary depending on the type and size of the daycare. Whether you’re establishing a home daycare or a larger preschool and daycare facility, it’s crucial to create a detailed business plan outlining your services, target market, and financial projections. Additionally, secure a suitable location that complies with zoning regulations and offers ample space for children to play and learn safely. Investing in quality childcare management software, such as SimplySafeChild’s daycare management software, can significantly enhance your operations. This software efficiently handles alerts, payments, and automation, streamlining daycare management processes and minimizing the need for extra staff. With these tools in place, you can focus on providing excellent care and education to the children in your daycare, ensuring a smooth and successful operation.

As always, use Daycare.com as a resource for any and all of your daycare needs.

Childcare licensing requirements in California

Meeting childcare licensing standards in California is imperative alongside crafting a comprehensive childcare business plan. Ensuring compliance with state regulations is essential. Here are the statutory licensing prerequisites enforced by California law:

Family child care home provider requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must live in the home
  • Must have a clear criminal record
  • Must have a TB test
  • Must complete 16 Pediatric Health and Safety training hours from an Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) approved vendor or accredited college/university
  • Must have proof of at least one year of experience as a small family childcare home licensee or a teacher or director of a licensed childcare center, for large family childcare home applicants

daycare in California

Family child care home capacity requirements

The following are the capacity regulations for small and large family child care home licenses:

  • Small family child care home capacity:
    • Only four infants (0-24 months) or six children. The six children must not be more than three infants and three older children over 2 years old. Also, you can consider a home capacity of eight children. In this case, you must not have more than two infants and six older children, two of which must be school age children. Lastly, a landlord’s consent and written parent notification are necessary when caring for more than six children.
  • Large family child care home capacity:
    • Twelve children, including not more than four infants (0-24 months) and eight 2-year-old children. You’ll also need a qualified assistant, at least 14 years old. A large family child care home can also accommodate up to 14 children. This option requires no more than three infants (0-24 months) and 11 children over 2 years old. Lastly, you need a landlord’s consent and written parent notification when caring for more than 12 children.

Childcare center provider requirements

The following are staff qualifications for childcare center providers:

Licensed child care facilities are required to pay an annual licensing fee, as well as other fees such as for a change in location, change in capacity, and change in corporate status; and late fees, probation fees, and dishonored check fees.

Staff Qualifications

Director Qualifications

  • Directors
    • 12 core semester units early childhood education/development
    • 3 semester units in Administration or Staff Relations
    • 4 years teaching experience in a supervised group Child Care Center
  • Infant Director
    • 12 core semester units
      • 3 semester units related to infant care
    • 3 semester units in Administration
    • 4 years teaching with children under age 5 years
  • School-Age Director
    • 12 core semester units early childhood education/development
    • 3 semester units in Administration or Staff Relations
    • 4 years teaching experience in a supervised group Child Care Center

Alternatives

  • A degree in child development, 3 units Administration and 2 years teaching experience
  • BA degree in child development, 3 units Administration and 1 year teaching experience
  • Child Development Site Supervisor Permit or Program Director Permit
  • School-Age Director – See Health and Safety Code Section 1597.21

Teacher Qualifications

  • Fully Qualified Teacher
    • 12 core semester units in early childhood education/development semesters units
    • 6 months experience in a licensed child care center or comparable group child care program.
  • Fully Qualified Infant Teacher
    • 12 core semester units
      • 3 semester units related to infant care
    • 6 months experience with children under age 5 years
  • School-Age Teacher
    • 12 core semester units in early childhood education/development semester units
    • 6 months experience in a licensed child care center or comparable group child care program.

Alternatives

  • Teacher – 6 completed semester units of early childhood education and enrolled in at least 2 semester units at a college until fully qualified
  • Infant Teacher – 3 completed semester units of early childhood education and 3 completed semester units of infant care and Enrolled in at least 2 semester units at a college until fully qualified
  • School-Age Teacher – See Health and Safety Code Section 1597.21

Aide Qualifications

  • Aide
    • 6 completed units of early childhood education
    • 18 years old, high school graduate or enrolled in an ROP at an accredited high school

Alternatives

  • 2 completed units of early childhood education each semester following initial employment and continuation in an educational program until fully qualified

Childcare center capacity requirements

Below are the staff-to-child ratio requirements regarding infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children:

Infant ratios:

  • One teacher for four infants
  • One fully qualified teacher and two aides for 12 infants

Toddler ratios:

  • One teacher for six toddlers
  • One fully qualified teacher and one aide for 12 toddlers

Preschool ratios:

  • One teacher for 12 children
  • One teacher and one aide for 15 children
  • One fully qualified teacher and one aide for 18 children

School-age ratios:

  • One teacher for 14 children
  • One fully qualified teacher and one aide for 28 children

daycare in California

Childcare license application in California

What do I need to get a Family Child Care Home License?

In order to get a Family Child Home license, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Attend an orientation (if you have not completed a Family Child Care Home Orientation within the last 12 months)
  • Submit all the required forms in this Application Booklet
    • Be sure to read each one carefully
    • All forms must be retyped or completed in ink
    • Keep a copy of all information that you send to Licensing
  • Submit the required application fee
  • Obtain a background check clearance for you, your spouse, and all other adults residing or having contact with the children in the home
  • Obtain a tuberculosis clearance (not more than 1 year old) for all adults residing or having contact with the children in the home
  • Complete or be enrolled in Preventive Health Practices training
    • This includes 15 hours of training in pediatric CPR, pediatric first aid, and a preventive health practices class
    • All classes must be offered by the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or approved by the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA)
    • Be sure to submit with your application, copies of course certificates of completion or training cards, or proof of current enrollment
  • Meet experience requirements if you will be operating a Large Family Child Care

Home (up to 14 children)

  • At least one year of experience either as a licensed Small Family Child Care Home provider or as an administrator, director, or teacher at a licensed Child Care Center
  • Verification may include copies of previous licenses or a written statement from your previous employer on company letterhead. The letter should verify your job duties and length of employment
  • Make sure that you meet any requirements of the city, country, or any other local ordinances
  • Inform your landlord (if your are renting or leasing) of your decision to operate a Family Child Care Home
  • Pass a home inspection

Below are the steps to take when applying for the Family Child Care Home License or Child Care Center License in California.

Step 1: Participate in a childcare licensing orientation.

The primary step entails participating in an online or in-person orientation session for childcare licensing. Depending on the type of childcare business you’re initiating, attend either the Family Child Care Home License orientation or the Child Care Center License orientation.

The orientation serves as a vital introduction to the prerequisites involved in launching and managing a daycare venture in California. Additionally, a non-refundable orientation fee is mandatory. It’s advisable to ensure that you meet the minimum eligibility criteria for either a Family Child Care Home or Child Care Center license application before enrolling in the orientation.

Step 2: Get acquainted with licensing laws and regulations

Following that, it’s essential to acquaint yourself with the pertinent laws and regulations governing family child care home licensing or child care center licensing. Specifically, focus on familiarizing yourself with health and safety codes:

Step 3: Fill out and send in your application

Moving forward, proceed to complete and submit your application package. Depending on the type of license required, either fill out the Family Child Care Home License application or the Child Care Center License application.

The Family Child Care Home License application requires you to fill out six forms:

  • Application for a Family Child Care Home License
  • Current Children in Your Home
  • Criminal Record Statements for all adults living in the home
  • Emergency Care and Disaster Plan
  • Statement Acknowledging Requirement to Report Suspected Child Abuse
  • Facility Sketch

You’re also required to submit the following in addition to filling out the necessary forms:

  • Proof of completing the orientation
  • Proof of completing or enrollment in Preventive Health Practices training
  • Proof of childcare experience
  • Proof of TB clearance (not more than one year old) for all adults living in your home
  • Payment (check or money order) for the nonrefundable application fee
  • Contact Information

The Child Care Center License application requires you to fill out 15 forms:

  • Application For Child Care Center License
  • Applicant Information
  • Criminal Record Statement
  • Designation Of Facility Responsibility
  • Administrative Organization
  • Monthly Operating Statements
  • Balance Sheet
  • Financial Information Release and Verification
  • Personnel Report
  • Personnel Record
  • Health Screening Report–Facility Personnel
  • Emergency Disaster Plan
  • Earthquake Preparedness Checklist
  • Facility Sketch
  • Local Fire Inspection Authority Information

You must also include the following documentation with your application:

  • Partnership Agreement, Articles of Incorporation, or Articles of Organization, depending on what applies to your business
  • Verification of director qualifications such as transcripts from an accredited school/college and reference letters confirming required experience
  • Job descriptions for every position at your daycare center
  • Personnel policies
  • Parent handbook
  • Daily activities schedule
  • Enrollment agreement
  • Staff training plan
  • Sample menu
  • List of furniture and play equipment
  • Control of property such as proof of ownership or copy of lease or rental agreement
  • Bacteriological analysis of private water supply (if applicable)

daycare in California

How much is the application fee?

Below is a quick rundown of California’s family child care home and child care center fees.

Family child care home licensing fees

  • Orientation fee: $25
  • One-time application fee: $73 for small family child care homes and $140 for large family child care homes
  • Yearly licensing fee: $73 for small family child care homes and $140 for large family child care homes

Child care center licensing fees

  • Orientation fee: $50
  • One-time application fee: This fee varies between $484 and $2,420 based on capacity
  • Yearly licensing fee: 50% of the one-time application fee, which varies depending on capacity

Step 4: Conduct pre-licensing inspection for Family Child Care Home License.

Finally, if you’ve applied for a Family Child Care Home License, you’ll need to ready yourself for a pre-licensing inspection. Following the completion and submission of your application package, a licensing program analyst will contact you. During the inspection, they will assess various aspects including the overall cleanliness of your home, the functionality of fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and telephones, appropriate storage of hazardous materials, and other relevant criteria.

Click here for a full list of the requirements for the inspection.

Step 5: Await approval

The entire application process takes between 60 and 90 days.

Securing a daycare license stands as a pivotal initial phase in establishing a daycare enterprise in California. Depending on your specific daycare setup, you can pursue either a family child care home license for in-home operations or a child care center license for commercial premises. By diligently strategizing and readying yourself, you can successfully navigate through all of California’s licensing prerequisites, setting the stage for the subsequent stages of your business.

 

Contact Information

Community Care Licensing Division

 

Child Care Licensing Program

744 P Street

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 654-1541

Child Care Advocate Program

Phone number: (916) 654-1541

Email address: [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 https://www.Daycare.com/signup

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