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How to Start a Daycare in Louisiana

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Starting a Childcare Center in Louisiana

Here is a starting guideline to open your own commercial childcare center or in-home daycare in Louisiana. It does involve several steps to ensure compliance with state regulations and the establishment of a safe and nurturing environment for children.
  • Firstly, research and familiarize yourself with Louisiana’s childcare licensing requirements, which typically include background checks, training in CPR and first aid, and facility inspections. This is very important for child safety!
  • Next, you should develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s structure, services, budget, and marketing strategy.
  • Secure suitable premises that meet state safety standards and zoning regulations.
  • You must obtain necessary permits and licenses from local authorities and apply for a childcare license through the Louisiana Department of Education.
  • Design and furnish your daycare space with age-appropriate equipment, educational materials, and safety measures. Make it look appealing to children and parents alike.
  • Recruit qualified staff members who share your commitment to childcare and adhere to state-mandated staff-to-child ratios. Develop policies and procedures for enrollment, health and safety protocols, curriculum planning, and parent communication.
  • Finally, promote your daycare through local advertising, a listing, community outreach, and word-of-mouth referrals to attract families seeking quality childcare services in Louisiana.

Do I need a childcare license in Louisiana?

In many cases, yes, a license or registration is required for your daycare in Louisiana. An initial step in launching a daycare business involves crafting a thorough business plan and acquiring the appropriate childcare license or registration from the Louisiana Department of Education.

According to the Louisiana Department of Education, a child daycare center is described as a facility that offers care to seven or more children regularly, for at least 12.5 hours per week. All center-based childcare providers in Louisiana are required to obtain licensure prior to commencing operations. Failure to possess a valid license may lead to fines imposed by the department, reaching a maximum of $1,000 per day for each violation. Providers exempt from licensure include public or private day schools catering to children in kindergarten and above, as well as camps, and any care offered without charge.

Daycare in Louisiana

The types of child care center licenses you can apply for include the following:

Type I License:

This license is granted to daycare centers that are owned or operated by a church or religious organization qualified for tax-exemption under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. These centers receive no state or federal funds directly or indirectly.

Type II License:

This license is issued to early learning centers that either do not receive any state or federal funds directly or indirectly, or whose sole source of such funds comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food and nutrition programs.

Type III License:

This license is provided to early learning centers that receive state or federal funds directly or indirectly, excluding those from the federal food and nutrition programs.

In addition, you have the option to provide home-based or family child care (FCC) services in Louisiana. While licensure may not be mandatory, registration and application for a certificate from the Louisiana Department of Education are required. Home-based providers offer care in the child’s own residence, while family child care providers cater to a maximum of six children in their own homes. Following registration, certification with the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is necessary. The CCAP offers financial aid to low-income families, aiding them in accessing quality child care while they work or attend school.

Childcare licensing requirements in Louisiana

Below are the state licensing requirements in Louisiana:

Qualifications for Directors:

  • To be a daycare director, you must be a minimum of 21 years old and possess documentation demonstrating at least one of the following:
    • A bachelor’s degree obtained from a college or university accredited regionally, including at least six credit hours in child development or early childhood education, along with one year of supervised childcare experience in a licensed center or a similar environment.
    • Possession of a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which encompasses practicum experience and one year of work experience in a licensed center.
    • An associate’s degree in child development or a closely related field, coupled with one year of supervised childcare experience in a licensed center or a comparable setting.
    • A minimum of one year of experience as either a director or staff member in a licensed childcare center, supplemented by 12 credit hours in child care, child development, or early childhood education. Alternatively, each three credit hours can be substituted with fifteen “clock hours” of relevant coursework.
    • Completion of a vocational childcare training program approved by the Board of Regents or an equivalent qualification, in addition to one year of supervised childcare experience in a licensed childcare center or a similar environment.
    • Attainment of the National Administrator Credential conferred by the National Child Care Association, along with one year of experience in a licensed childcare center or a comparable setting.
    • Receipt of a certificate of completion from either the International Correspondence School or the Professional Career Development Institute, accompanied by one year of experience in a licensed childcare center or a comparable setting.

Childcare center ratio requirements

Childcare center ratio requirements vary based on the ages of the children being cared for. Here are the guidelines for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children:

When there are 10 children or fewer, including the provider’s and/or staff members’ children:

  • If there are no more than two children under the age of two, there should be one teacher for every 10 children (1:10).
  • If there are three or more children under the age of two, there should be two teachers for every 10 children (2:10).

For 11 or more children, the staff-to-child ratio requirements are as follows:

  • One teacher for every six non-walkers and toddlers below 12 months old (1:6).
  • One teacher for every eight toddlers between 12 and 23 months old (1:8).
  • One teacher for every 12 children aged two to three years old (1:12).
  • One teacher for every 14 children between three and four years old (1:14).
  • One teacher for every 16 children between four and five years old (1:16).
  • One teacher for every 20 children between five and six years old (1:20).
  • One teacher for every 25 school-age children aged six years and older (1:25).

Daycare in Louisiana

Fees requirement

Payment of all fees to the Louisiana Department of Education must be completed through its electronic payment system, with all fees considered non-refundable.

Administrative Fees:

An administrative fee of $25 is required for initial licensure, which will be included in the total licensure fee due before the issuance of the initial license. Additionally, a $25 administrative fee is applicable for any changes necessitating the issuance of a new license or the reissuance of an existing license. This includes modifications such as changes in the facility’s name, capacity, age ranges served, or transportation services. These fees are subject to change at anytime.

Annual Licensure Fees:

The full licensure fee, determined by the licensed capacity, must be paid annually. The fee structure is as follows:

  • For facilities accommodating 15 or fewer children: $25
  • For facilities serving 16 to 50 children: $100
  • For facilities with 51 to 100 children: $175
  • For facilities catering to 101 or more children: $250

Payment of all fees must be made via certified check or money order to the Department of Social Services. Childcare facilities operated or owned by a religious organization or church are exempt from annual license fees. These fees are subject to change at anytime.

Approval requirements

Before issuing a license, the bureau will require these daycare center approvals:

  • Approval from the Office of State Fire Marshal
  • Approval from the Office of Public Health
  • Approval from the city fire department, if necessary
  • Approval for zoning or a certificate of occupancy, if required
  • Academic approval from the department, if necessary
  • Licensure inspection to confirm compliance with minimum standards
  • Child Care Criminal Background Check (CCCBC) to determine eligibility for child care purposes from the department, mandatory for all owners, operators, and staff
  • Written documentation confirming ownership of the center

Childcare license application in Louisiana

Follow the below steps to complete your license application:

Step 1: Verify Zoning and Building Regulations

Before you acquire or rent a property for your daycare center, examine the local zoning and building regulations in the intended business location. Ensure compliance by securing necessary approvals from the Office of Public Health, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Sanitation Services, and Code Enforcement and Building Safety.

Step 2: Fill Out and Submit the Application

  • The subsequent step involves completing the license application form. Specify “type I license” unless seeking state or federal funding. The application entails the following:
    • Key points regarding the initial application fee, change of daycare ownership licensure, license renewals, and payment methods for all fees are as follows:
    • License Type: Specify whether it’s for initial application, renewal, change in ownership, change of director, or change of location.
    • Center Details: Provide information such as the center name, location address, mailing address, phone numbers, and email address.
    • Organizational Structure and Owner Information.
    • Director’s Appointment Details.
    • Details of Director Designee.
    • Personal References: Three references each for the director and director designee.
    • Funding Source (where the funds you are using to start your childcare center are coming from)
    • Services Offered: Specify if it’s all-day, half-day, night-time care (after 9 pm), and transportation services. More information is better, it helps parents.
    • Center Operations: Include licensed capacity, number of buildings utilized by children, age range, months of operation during the year, days available weekly, and hours of operation.
    • Declaration Statements.
    • Background Information Disclosure Form.
    • Once the application is completed, it should be submitted to the Bureau of Licensing.

Step 3: Await Inspection and Approval

Upon receipt of your application, the Bureau of Licensing will initiate requests to necessary local agencies, which include the Office of Public Health, Office of the State Fire Marshal, and Office of the City Fire Department (if applicable), for inspections of the daycare premises. It remains your responsibility to ensure these inspections are completed and approvals obtained.

Subsequently, a licensing specialist will visit your facility to conduct a comprehensive licensing survey. Upon obtaining all pertinent approvals, the bureau will proceed to issue a license for initial applications. Once you’ve received your license and selected a name for your business, you’re ready to commence marketing your daycare within the community.

Daycare in Louisiana

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Louisiana

Timely License Renewal:

Renew your license before its expiration date as determined by the department. Failure to do so may result in the cessation of daycare operations. Ensure that you have current approvals from the Office of State Fire Marshal, Office of Public Health, and undergo annual licensing inspections by the department for license renewal.

Avoid License Transfers:

Understand that your license is specific to the location and ownership for which it was issued. It cannot be transferred from one owner or location to another. Any changes in location or ownership require completion of a new application form. Failure to do so may result in automatic revocation of your license.

Notify of Relevant Changes:

Communicate any changes that may impact your license to the Bureau of Licensing promptly. This includes changes in the space utilized by children, alterations in age range, or variations in the number of children served.

Consider Waivers for Significant Changes:

In certain cases, the Secretary of the Department of Social Services may waive compliance for significant changes if economic impact renders compliance impossible. Compliance waivers may also apply if changes do not jeopardize the health and well-being of staff and children and if facility standards meet or exceed expectations.

Start a daycare in Louisiana

Establishing and managing a daycare in Louisiana entails acquiring the appropriate license for your program and adhering to all licensing regulations to maintain compliance. By engaging in thorough planning, preparation, and careful attention to detail, fulfilling these requirements can be a seamless endeavor.

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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