How to Start a Daycare in Connecticut

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A daycare can be a fulfilling and profitable business opportunity that also provides a much-needed service to working families, especially in Connecticut, where over 40 percent of the state’s residents live in a “childcare desert”, or a location without enough childcare options.

If you’re interested in starting a daycare in Connecticut, there are many licensing requirements to consider depending on the type of childcare program you open. You can find all the resources you need at Daycare.com

Do I need a childcare license in Connecticut

To open a daycare in Connecticut, after deciding on the type of daycare (home-based or center-based) and other first planning steps like creating a business plan and marketing strategies, it’s crucial to understand and follow  state-specific licensing requirements. In Connecticut, operating a childcare facility for children who are not related to you mandates obtaining a license, ensuring compliance with state regulations for a safe and educational environment for children.

In Connecticut, the Division of Licensing regulates over 4,000 childcare programs, including child care centers, group child care homes, family child care homes, and youth camps. The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) categorizes these programs as follows:

  • Family Child Care Homes: Private residences offering care to up to six non-school-age children.
  • Group Child Care Homes: Facilities caring for 7 to 12 children, either related or unrelated, or operating similarly to family child care homes but outside of a private residence.
  • Child Care Centers: Establishments providing care for more than 12 children outside of their homes.
  • Youth Camps: Seasonal programs for 5 or more children aged 3 to 16, operational during school vacations or weekends.

Daycare in Connecticut

Some child care services are not required to obtain a license. These exemptions include services:

  • Operated by public school systems, municipal agencies, or departments.
  • Provided by private schools.
  • Offering specific short-term classes (no more than two hours) in music, dance, drama, art, single skills, library programs, scouting, sports activities, rehearsals, academic tutoring, or programs for children aged 13 and older.
  • Arranged informally among neighbors or relatives, with care provided in the caregiver’s home by relatives such as grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, aunts, or uncles, based on blood, marriage, or court order.

Connecticut Childcare Licensing Requirements

Starting a daycare center in Connecticut requires understanding specific licensing requirements. Below is a summary for each type of childcare center.

Family Child Care Homes Requirements:

Pre-Inspection:

  • Install operable smoke detectors on each level.
  • Mount a 5lb ABC fire extinguisher.
  • Create a written evacuation plan with two accessible escape routes.
  • Post telephone and emergency contact numbers.
  • Protect all electrical cords/outlets.
  • Unload, store, and lock away any weapons, separate from ammunition.
  • Ensure water temperature doesn’t exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Maintain current rabies vaccination certificates for pets.
  • Keep the home and equipment clean and sanitary.
  • Secure dangerous items (e.g., knives, matches, tools).
  • Protect indoor and outdoor stairways.
  • Review outdoor space requirements; fencing might not be necessary.
  • Conduct lead and well water tests if applicable.
  • Provide an auxiliary heating device inspection report if applicable.
  • Have a first aid kit available.

Director Qualifications:

  • Minimum age of 20.
  • Complete approved first aid and CPR training.
  • Undergo background checks for anyone in the household aged 18 or older.
  • Submit adult medical statements and health assessment records for household members.
  • Provide reference forms from three individuals, with a maximum of one relative.

Staff Qualifications:

  • Substitutes must be at least 20 years old, meet provider qualifications, including CPR and first aid certification.
  • Assistants need to be 18 or older, may work with the provider.
  • Background checks, references, and applications are required for substitutes and assistants.

Staffing Ratios:

  • 6:1 child to caregiver ratio for children under school age (no more than two under 18 months) and groups with at least three school-age children.
  • Providers can care for three additional school-age children for less than three hours of before- or after-school care. The provider’s own children under 12 count towards this limit.
  • With an OEC approved assistant or substitute, providers may care for up to nine children, regardless of school attendance.

Licensing Requirements for Group Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers

Group child care homes and child care centers in Connecticut must adhere to identical licensing prerequisites.

Center Requirements Overview:

  • Formulate a comprehensive written plan involving professionals such as an early childhood educational consultant, health consultant, dental consultant, social service consultant, and a registered dietician when relevant.
  • Design a detailed blue print or floor plan of the facility.
  • Conduct lead water tests for all water supplies.
  • If using well water, perform bacterial and chemical tests.
  • For programs in basement or ground levels, carry out a radon test and display the results.
  • Post weekly snack and meal menus in advance.
  • Display emergency procedures for fire, severe weather, and medical evacuations.
  • Ensure “No Smoking” signs, the agency’s inspection report, emergency contacts, and diapering plus handwashing procedures are visibly posted.

Daycare in Connecticut

Director Qualifications:

  • Directors must have completed a three-credit course in early childhood program administration and supervision.
  • Minimum age requirement is 20 years.
  • Qualifications include one of the following:
    • A high school diploma or equivalent, 1,080 hours of supervised experience within nine months in a comparable program, plus either a current Child Development Associate credential or 12 credits in early childhood education from an accredited college.
    • A high school diploma or equivalent, with 1,080 hours of experience over nine months with children of similar ages.
    • A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development, 360 hours of supervised experience, and at least one semester of student teaching with the target age group.
  • Mandatory certification in first aid and CPR.

Staff Qualifications:

  • A head teacher must be present for 60% of operational hours weekly and certified through the OEC.
  • All staff members must undergo background checks.

Staff-Child Ratios:

  • For children three and up: a 10:1 child-to-caregiver ratio.
  • For children under three: a 4:1 child-to-caregiver ratio.

Applying for a Childcare License in Connecticut

The process and fees for applying for a childcare license in Connecticut depend on the type of license you seek. For group child care homes or child care centers, submit the application at least 60 days before you plan to open, including a non-refundable application fee. Use the checklist provided in the application packet to ensure all required certifications and documents are submitted. Below are the steps to apply for a childcare license in Connecticut:

Step 1: Understand Licensing Requirements

  • Access the OEC website for videos and information about starting a childcare center, compliance, and more.

Step 2: Submit Your Application

  • For Family Child Care Homes:
    • $40 initial application fee.
    • Complete the application form, foster care verification, adult medical statement, health assessment records for children, references, and lead water test.
  • For Group Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers:
    • $500 fee for child care centers, $250 for group homes.
    • Include completed application fee form, affidavit, property history, approvals (fire, building, zoning, local health), lead inspection for older buildings, closure schedule, staff work schedule, head teacher verification, organizational chart, training certificates (first aid, CPR, food service), floor plan, outdoor space sketch, water supply form, radon test, pool approval, and develop policies for review (discipline, closing time, emergency protocols, supervision, operating, personnel).

Step 3: Prepare for Inspection

  • Following submission and acceptance of your application, you’ll be invited to start the background check process via email.
  • An OEC licensing staff member will contact you to arrange an inspection, checking the facility’s compliance with health and safety standards and policy implementation.
  • After passing the inspection, consider using management software like SimplySafeChild and com to streamline administrative tasks, record-keeping, admissions, waitlists, and payment processing.

Maintaining Daycare License Compliance in Connecticut

Connecticut issues a four-year license for all licensed childcare programs. It’s essential not to let your license expire and to display it prominently in your facility. Additionally, ensuring you and your staff’s certifications, such as first aid and CPR, are up to date is crucial for compliance.

Daycare in Connecticut

Compliance standards vary by facility type:

Family Child Care Homes Compliance:

  • File a current adult medical statement every three years.
  • Maintain up-to-date first aid and CPR certifications.
  • Employ only OEC-approved staff.
  • Ensure your home is clean, safe, and free from hazards and toxins.
  • Conduct fire drills quarterly.
  • Display up-to-date emergency contact information.
  • Keep pets’ rabies certifications current and ensure children are safe from them.
  • Operate with functional carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Adhere to the licensed capacity.

Group Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers Compliance:

  • Adhere to staffing requirements, ensuring all staff are properly certified and trained.
  • Maintain at least one certified and trained person on-site during operating hours.
  • Keep the facility clean and safeguarded against hazards.
  • Manage accurate sign-in and sign-out procedures for children.
  • Update and maintain all required documentation for children.

Start a daycare in Connecticut today

Opening a daycare requires detailed planning, training, and compliance with all regulatory steps. Understanding the process beforehand can help tremendously and ensure that you meet all the requirements to start a thriving daycare business.

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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