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How to Start a Daycare in Georgia

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Are you looking at starting a daycare in Georgia? There are many things to think about, and starting your own in-home or commercial daycare center requires careful planning and adherence to state regulations.

  • Begin by conducting thorough research on licensing requirements set forth by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
  • Create a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s mission, target market, services offered, and financial projections.
  • Secure suitable premises that comply with safety standards and zoning regulations.
  • Develop policies and procedures for operations, including staff hiring and training protocols, health and safety measures, and curriculum planning.
  • Obtain necessary permits and licenses, including a childcare license from DECAL, and ensure compliance with local health and fire codes.
  • Consider liability insurance to protect your business and clients.
  • Establish partnerships with local agencies and organizations, and market your daycare through various channels such as social media, a listing, local directories, and community events.
  • Finally, prioritize providing a nurturing and stimulating environment for children under your care, fostering their growth and development while offering peace of mind to parents.

Do I need a childcare license in Georgia?

To start a daycare center in Georgia, you must hold a valid license.

There are two license options available depending on the type of center you plan to open.

Family Child Care Learning Home

A Family Child Care Learning Home (FCCLH) functions within a private residence. Under this licensure, you are authorized to oversee the care of three to six children under 18 years old for periods of less than 24 hours per day.

Child Care Learning Center in Georgia

A Child Care Learning Center (CCLC) license pertains to your establishment if you offer care for seven or more children under 18 years old for durations less than 24 hours per day. It is required that you operate from a facility that is not a private residence.

In Georgia, it’s mandatory to possess a license to guarantee that your services are suitable and prioritize the well-being of the children under your supervision. This encompasses your facilities, activities, and overall program. Licensure additionally serves the purpose of informing families about the daycare centers that best meet their children’s needs.

Before you start writing your business plan, marketing your center, or choosing a name, you’ll need to determine the type of childcare facility you’ll open and examine specific licensing requirements.

Daycare in Georgia

Childcare licensing requirements in Georgia

To obtain your childcare license in Georgia, you must meet several requirements.

  • Be 21 years of age
  • Meet Georgia’s minimum educational requirements for providers by obtaining one or more of these approved childcare credentials:
  • Attend a Licensure Orientation Meeting (LOM)
  • Obtain 10 hours of pre-service training:
    • Early Learning Standards (2 hours)
    • Communications (2 hours)
    • Leadership & Professional Development (2 hours)
    • Business Management (2 hours)
    • Advocacy for Parents & Children (2 hours)
  • Secure CPR & First Aid certifications
  • Complete the Criminal Record Acknowledgement Form
  • Get a fingerprint criminal record check for all adults over 17 residing in the home and other adults providing care
  • Submit a copy of your business license or a letter stating no business license is required
  • Submit a copy of your zoning approval letter or letter stating no zoning is required

Child Care Learning Center licensing requirements

If you’re opening a Child Care Learning Center, you must meet all of the same requirements to open a FCCLH, along with the following:

  • The director must complete a 40-hour director training course approved by the Department
  • Meet staff-to-child ratios as follows:
    • 1 adult for every 6 children (birth to 18 months old – not walking)
    • 1 adult for every 8 children (1-year-old – walking)
    • 1 adult for every 10 children (2 years old)
    • 1 adult for every 15 children (3 years old)
    • 1 adult for every 18 children (4 years old)
    • 1 adult for every 20 children (5 years old)
    • 1 adult for every 25 children (6 years old)
  • Meet capacity requirements as outlined in the applicant’s guide to licensing

Childcare license application in Georgia

There’s a detailed application process to secure your FCCLH or CCCL childcare license.

Family Child Care Learning Home license application process

Step 1: Become familiar with the application process

You can print the application from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) website.

Step 2: Attend a licensing orientation meeting (LOM)

Participation in a six-hour mandatory meeting is necessary to obtain your license, and it’s offered at no cost. You have the option to attend either online through a webinar format or in-person, depending on availability. This orientation session provides instruction on effectively managing your childcare business and guarantees that your facility aligns with state regulations. You can sign up for attendance through the provided registration link.

Step 3: Complete certifications and courses

Obtaining CPR and First Aid certifications, along with completing 10 hours of online training courses, is essential. Throughout these courses, you’ll gain insights into various aspects including business management, leadership, communication, professional development, early learning standards, and advocating for children and families.

Step 4: Learn Georgia childcare laws

To run a childcare facility in Georgia, it’s imperative to be familiar with the regulations governing Family Child Care Learning Homes (FCCLHs). Inspections may be conducted at any time once your facility is operational, and adherence to all regulations is expected continuously.

Step 5: Submit your application

Once you’re ready to submit your application, it should include the following:

  • A signed and completed FCCLH licensing application
  • Documentation or evidence of having completed the education requirements described above
  • A criminal record check acknowledgement form
  • A signed and notarized affidavit indicating your lawful presence in the United States
  • Documentation of having completed the required pre-service training
  • A completed copy of the FCCLH rules and regulations checklist provided with the licensing application package
  • A copy of a zoning approval letter from the appropriate jurisdiction permitting the home to be licensed as an FCCLH
  • A copy of your business license or a letter stating that you don’t require a business license for your childcare operation
  • Proof of ownership of the residence, or a copy of your lease/rental agreement indicating that you’re allowed to operate a childcare business
  • A copy of your water/sewage bill that identifies the water source for your home. If your home uses a septic tank, you’ll need a local county health department letter indicating approval for your childcare business
  • A readable floor plan of your residence
  • A copy of a fire inspection for your home and certificate of occupancy, if applicable

Step 6: Complete your inspection visit

After you’ve submitted your application and it satisfies all criteria, the next step is the site visit. A consultant from DECAL will conduct an inspection to verify that your home adheres to Georgia state laws. Additionally, they will review your qualifications along with those of any staff employed at the childcare center.

Step 7: Receive your FCCLH license and pay fees

Upon successful completion of the application process, you will be issued your FCCLH license by Georgia. Subsequently, you will be required to pay a non-refundable license fee of $50. Your license will be valid for a duration of one year.

Daycare in Georgia

Child Care Learning Center license application process

Step 1: Become familiar with the application process

Although the application process for a CCLC license shares similarities with that of the FCCLH license, there are distinct requirements to be met. Additionally, you have the option to print the application from the DECAL website

Step 2: Attend the CCLC licensure orientation meeting

The initial step in the application process involves attending the Child Care Learning Center licensure orientation meeting. Registration for this meeting is conducted via the Georgia Professional Development System for Early Childhood Educators (GaPDS).

Step 3: Complete the director training course  

Following that, you’ll commence the 40-hour director training course mandated by the state of Georgia for directorship. This program, priced at $200, is accessible both online and in-person. Throughout the course, you’ll delve into diverse subjects such as fiscal management, licensing regulations, curriculum and child development, family engagement, and marketing. You have the flexibility to work on this course concurrently with other requirements to obtain your license.

Step 4: Prepare your facility for compliance

Identify the relevant state and local agencies governing your facility. Agencies such as those overseeing fire safety, zoning regulations, building codes, and health standards will assess compliance with Georgia state laws regarding your facilities.

Step 5: Submit application part A

The first part of your application requires you to provide these items:

  • Floor plan
  • Site plan
  • Operations plan
  • Zoning letter
  • Certificate of completion from your licensure orientation meeting
  • Proof of property ownership or a lease
  • LLC information, if applicable
  • Any other items included in the checklist for your application

Step 6: Submit application part B

Once the first part of your application is approved, it’s time to submit part B. You’ll need to submit these items:

  • Criminal record check results for all staff members.
  • Evidence verifying the director’s credentials or educational background.
  • Map directions leading to the facility.
  • Certificate of completion for the 40-hour director’s training course.
  • Confirmation of access to public sewage and water or a letter from the local health department affirming the availability of safe drinking water and/or approval for septic tank usage at the center.
  • Completed vehicle inspection form for any vehicles designated for children’s transportation.
  • A fully completed Initial Licensing Study Staff Profile form for all staff members.
  • Certificate of occupancy or approval from state/local agencies regarding building and fire compliance.

Step 7: Complete the onsite inspection

Once your part B application has undergone review, an ASU (Applicant Services Unit) consultant will conduct an onsite inspection to verify compliance with Georgia childcare regulations.

Step 8: Pay licensing fees

If your onsite inspection proves successful, you will be granted permission to operate. Subsequently, within 30 days of receiving your license, you are required to pay the annual licensing fee, which ranges from $50 to $250 depending on the number of children in your facility. Upon payment of the fees, you will receive the CCLC license for the state of Georgia.

Once you have completed all the necessary steps to obtain the appropriate childcare license, you can proceed to the next phase of running your business.

Daycare in Georgia

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Georgia

After obtaining your childcare license in Georgia, it is essential to adhere to regulations to retain it. Here are key points to consider:

  • License Duration: Whether you hold an FCCL or CCL license, it remains valid for 12 months before requiring renewal.
  • Continual Training: All staff members must undergo 10 hours of annual training relevant to child care. These sessions may encompass child development, early childhood education, or related subjects.
  • License Renewal Fee: An annual license fee ranging from $50 to $250 must be paid to maintain your license.
  • Annual Inspections: Each year, a state inspector will conduct an inspection of your daycare center to ensure compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.

Start a daycare business in Georgia

Operating a daycare center in Georgia is an enriching endeavor. Whether it’s a home-based or center-based program, obtaining your license signifies the initial stage in launching your business and making a meaningful impact on the lives of children and families within your community.

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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