How to Start a Daycare in Kentucky

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Starting a daycare in Kentucky involves several crucial steps to ensure compliance with state regulations and the provision of quality childcare services.

  • First, conduct thorough research to understand licensing requirements set forth by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
  • Next, develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s mission, services offered, target demographic, and financial projections.
  • Secure suitable premises that meet state safety standards, including ample indoor and outdoor space for children to play and learn. Obtain necessary permits and licenses, including a state childcare license, tax identification number, and any zoning permits required for your location.
  • Hire qualified staff members who are passionate about early childhood education and pass background checks. Develop policies and procedures for health, safety, curriculum, and parent communication.
  • Finally, invest in quality educational materials, toys, and equipment to create an engaging and nurturing environment for the children in your care.

Regularly evaluate and update your program to meet the evolving needs of the children and families you serve.

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

Do I need a childcare license in Kentucky?

Educators looking to initiate a daycare business in Kentucky must obtain a childcare license as mandated by the Division of Regulated Child Care within the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General. These licensing requirements and regulations are instrumental in assisting educators to deliver quality childcare services that foster the health, growth, and development of children.

There are four childcare businesses regulated under Kentucky law:

Kentucky law regulates four types of childcare businesses:

  • Type I Licensed Early Childhood Facility: Offers childcare for four or more children in non-residential settings or 13 or more children in residential settings.
  • Type II Licensed Early Childhood Facility: Provides childcare for seven to 12 children, including those related to the licensee.
  • Certified Family Child Care Home: Provides care for up to 10 children, with a maximum of six unrelated children and four related children, within the caregiver’s home.
  • Registered Early Childhood Professional: Refers to family members, friends, or neighbors caring for children either in their own home or the child’s home.
  • Registered providers may not care for more than three unrelated children or more than six children in a sibling group.

Daycare in Kentucky

The Kentucky Division of Regulated Child Care does not oversee providers caring for up to three unrelated children. Providers caring for more than three unrelated children must obtain certification or licensing, unless they qualify for an exempt category.

In Kentucky, adherence to the licensing requirements set by the Division of Child Care is essential for daycare facilities seeking licensure. Alongside obtaining a license, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive business plan delineating your center’s mission, vision, and values. Understanding the core purpose driving your business enables the formulation of effective marketing strategies aimed at reaching potential families within your community who stand to gain from your childcare offerings.

Licensed type I and type II early childhood facility licensing requirements

Director qualifications

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete child development training
  • Have one of the following credentials:
    • A master’s degree in education or a child development field
    • A bachelor’s degree in education or a child development field
    • A master’s degree or bachelor’s degree in a field other than education or child development and 12 clock hours of child development training
    • An associate’s degree in early childhood education and development
    • An associate’s degree in a field other than early childhood education and development and 12 clock hours of child development training, and two years of documented paid experience working directly with children
    • A child development associate’s degree plus one year of paid experience working with children in a school-based program, an early childhood development program, or a licensed or certified childcare program

Staff member qualifications include:

  • Being clear of active tuberculosis, with confirmation from a healthcare provider every two years.
  • Completion of 15 hours of training annually.
  • Completion of six hours of orientation training and one-and-a-half hours of pediatric abusive head trauma training.
  • Possession of a high school diploma or GED.
  • Holding a Commonwealth Childcare Credential.

Staff-to-child ratios and group sizes

Early childhood facilities licensed as type I and type II must adhere to designated staff-to-child ratios. Additionally, type I childcare centers must meet specified group size standards. The ratio and size requirements for mixed-age groups are determined by the age of the youngest child within the group.

Age of children Staff-to-child ratio Maximum group size (type I childcare centers)
Infants under 12 months 1 staff member for every 5 children (1:5) 10
Young toddlers from 12 to 24 months 1 staff member for every 6 children (1:6) 12
Older toddlers from 24 to 36 months 1 staff member for every 10 children (1:10) 20
Preschoolers from 3 to 4 years 1 staff member for every 12 children (1:12) 24
Preschoolers from 4 to 5 years 1 staff member for every 14 children (1:14) 28
School-age children from 5 to 7 years old 1 staff member for every 15 children (1:15) 30
School-age children over 7 years old (before and after school only) 1 staff member for every 25 children (1:25) 30
School-age children over 7 years old (full day of care) 1 staff member for every 20 children (1:20) 30

Physical space and activity requirements

  • Indoor and outdoor areas conducive to the development of children’s large and small muscles are required.
  • Smoking is strictly confined to designated outdoor spaces and is prohibited in the vicinity of children.
  • Children must have access to diverse creative activities and educational experiences, such as dramatic play, storytelling, reading materials, and exposure to different cultures.
  • A balance of active and quiet play, as well as a balance between individual and group activities, must be maintained for children.
  • Children under the age of 2 are not allowed to engage in screen time activities.

Health and safety requirements

  • Children are not permitted to be disciplined through physical means.
  • Children must not be exposed to loud, profane, humiliating, or abusive language.
  • Assistance with personal care and hygiene, tailored to the child’s developmental abilities, is mandatory.
  • Any staff member suspected of having a communicable disease must refrain from tasks that could potentially transmit the illness.
  • Children must have chances to learn and practice age-appropriate self-care and hygiene practices, including handwashing and toileting.
  • Cleaning supplies, pesticides, flammable substances, matches, lighters, as well as personal belongings and medications of staff members, must be kept out of reach of children.

Certified family child care home licensing requirements

A certified family child care home provider must display the certificate of operation in a prominent place within the residence in which care is provided.

Provider qualifications

  • Be a minimum of 18 years old.
  • Hold a high school diploma, GED, or Commonwealth Child Care Credential.
  • Obtain certification in infant and child CPR as well as first aid.
  • Complete a minimum of six hours of training, covering areas such as first aid, CPR, and pediatric abusive head trauma.
  • Refrain from holding employment elsewhere during the childcare center’s operating hours.

Capacity requirements

  • In a certified family child care home, the number of children under care must not exceed six unrelated children or four related children, along with an additional allowance of six unrelated children, totaling a maximum of 10 children at any given time. Related children include those who are the caregiver’s child, grandchild, niece, nephew, sibling, step-child, or under the legal custody of the provider.

Physical space and activity requirements

  • Indoor areas must allow for at least 35 square feet of space per child
  • Facility must be clean, uncluttered, and free of insects and rodents
  • Provider must create planned daily programs of developmentally-appropriate activities
  • Stationary outdoor play equipment must be safe, securely anchored, and developmentally appropriate

Health and safety requirements

  • The facility must have adequate heating, cooling, light, and ventilation
  • Each floor of the facility that is used for child care must have at least one unblocked exit to the outdoors, and at least one smoke detector and fire extinguisher. The facility must also have a carbon monoxide detector if it uses fuel-burning appliances or has an attached garage
  • Areas of the home that are accessible to children must be free of harmful items
  • Alcohol must be kept out of reach and sight of children in care and cannot be consumed by anyone on the premises during the facility’s hours of operation

Daycare in Kentucky

Registered early childhood professional licensing requirements

Provider qualifications

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma, GED, or Commonwealth Child Care Credential
  • Complete six hours of training in health, safety, and sanitation, recognition of child abuse and neglect, and developmentally appropriate childcare practice
  • Be free of tuberculosis and in good general health

Building requirements

  • The home and each play area must be safe and have adequate heat, light, and ventilation
  • Each floor of the facility that is used for child care must have at least one unblocked exit to the outdoors, and at least one smoke detector and fire extinguisher. The facility must also have a carbon monoxide detector if it uses fuel-burning appliances or has an attached garage
  • Areas of the home that are accessible to children must be free of harmful items

Health and safety requirements

  • Firearms and ammunition must be locked in separate secure locations that are not accessible to children
  • The home must have at least one working telephone with a residential line or active mobile service
  • There must be an accessible list of emergency telephone numbers, including the numbers for the police, fire station, emergency medical services, and poison control center
  • Pets or livestock may not be left alone with children

The Family Child Care Network (FCCN) of Kentucky offers support for establishing and managing your certified family child care home or becoming a registered early childhood professional. FCCN also delivers technical guidance and training services. Contact FCCN via email or call toll-free at (800) 621-5908 to connect with the appropriate specialist in your region.

Childcare license applications in Kentucky

Licensed type I and type II early childhood facility application

Follow these steps to obtain a childcare license for your early childhood facility type I or type II:

Step 1: Arrange a meeting with a Child Care Aware health and safety coach

Child Care Aware of Kentucky provides complimentary coaching sessions for aspiring childcare providers. These sessions aim to educate providers on various aspects, including:

  • Achieving and upholding a rating in Kentucky All STARS to enhance childcare quality
  • Meeting childcare licensing standards and ensuring license maintenance
  • Accessing professional development training and scholarships for early childhood education studies
  • Pursuing training and renewing credentials in early childhood education

Step 2: Obtain zoning approval and clearance from the state fire marshal

Before obtaining a childcare license, secure zoning approval and clearance from the Kentucky fire marshal, verifying that your facility meets essential fire safety and zoning criteria.

Step 3: Develop an evacuation plan for your childcare center

Draft an evacuation plan detailing procedures for you, your staff, and the children in your care in the event of an emergency requiring facility evacuation. This plan should encompass:

  • Designated relocation site
  • Staff procedures for notifying children’s families of the relocation site for easy reunification
  • Procedures addressing individual needs of children during evacuation
  • Staff training instructions and task reassignments
  • Coordination with emergency personnel

Step 4: Complete background checks

Ensure all childcare staff undergo background checks via the KARES platform on the Kentucky Online Gateway. To create a Kentucky Online Gateway account, contact the Division of Child Care Help Desk at [email protected]. A $10 fee is applicable for background check completion.

Step 5: Submit an initial childcare center license application

Submit the initial childcare center license application along with necessary documentation to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. An initial licensing fee of $50 is required.

For applications filed as corporations or limited liability companies, include a current certificate of existence or authorization from the Secretary of State. The daycare name on your license should align with the one on file with the Secretary of State. Upon approval, you will receive a preliminary license and enter a six-month probationary period.

Family child care home certification application

To certify your family child care home, you must complete the following steps:

Step 1: Secure commercial liability insurance

Prior to certification for a family child care home, it is necessary to acquire a minimum of $50,000 in commercial liability insurance.

Step 2: Submit application and required documents

Within 90 days of initiating the application process, submit a certification application, a $10 certification fee, and relevant documentation to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Step 3: Undergo inspection

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will assess and process your application, perform an unannounced inspection of the home, and grant approval for the family child care home within 15 calendar days upon receipt of your certification application, provided all regulatory requirements are fulfilled.

Registered early childhood professional license application

Complete these steps to become a registered early childhood professional:

Step 1: Reach out to a registered provider specialist

To initiate the registration procedure, get in touch with a registered provider specialist at the Division of Child Care (DCC) by dialing 844-209-2657.

Step 2: Fulfill and furnish the necessary paperwork

Upon notifying a registered provider specialist of your intention to apply, you will be given a 30-day window to fulfill and submit the necessary documentation. This documentation comprises:

  • A W-9 form
  • An application to offer care either in your home or in a child’s home
  • A health statement, including a tuberculosis skin test
  • A background check
  • A documented evacuation plan
  • Your photo ID or birth certificate
  • Confirmation of completed training

Daycare in Kentucky

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Kentucky

Follow these guidelines to keep your daycare in compliance with Kentucky’s laws and regulations.

Licensed early childhood facility type I and type II

The license for a type I or type II early childhood facility expires one year from the effective date or last renewal date. To renew the license, you must submit a renewal form one month before the anniversary of the regular license’s effective date and pay the $25 nonrefundable fee.

To maintain compliance with your type I or type II early childhood facility license, you must have written documentation from your local authority demonstrating compliance with local zoning requirements. Any form of corporal punishment on the children in your care is prohibited, and you must undergo annual inspections by the state fire marshal and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Division of Regulated Child Care.

If your facility holds a food service permit, you must undergo an annual health department inspection.

Certified family child care home

A certification for a family child care home expires two years from the date of issuance. To renew the certification, you must submit a Certified Family Child Care Home Renewal Form, a physician’s statement, and evidence that you continue to meet the minimum provider qualifications one month before the certification’s expiration.

A $10 nonrefundable certification renewal fee is applicable. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will review and process the certification renewal form, conduct an unannounced home inspection, and approve the renewal of the family child care home’s certification within 15 calendar days.

Registered early childhood professional

To maintain compliance with your registration as an early childhood professional, you must undergo annual health and safety inspections, confirm completion of the required training for a registered early childhood professional, and submit an updated version of your evacuation plan. Ensure you retain a copy of the updated plan and provide a copy to each child’s family.

Concluding Remarks:

Obtaining a childcare license stands as a pivotal step in launching a childcare venture. Upon determining the most suitable program for your objectives, undertake the licensing process to demonstrate your dedication to delivering top-notch child care services to the Kentucky Division of Regulated Child Care. Upon securing your license, you will be on the brink of making a significant impact in your community by serving as a licensed early childhood facility, certified family child care home, or registered early childhood professional.

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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