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How to Start a Daycare in Montana

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Daycare Staff

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

  • Begin by researching licensing requirements from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to ensure compliance with safety and staffing standards.
  • Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your target market, services offered, and financial projections.
  • Secure a suitable location that meets zoning regulations and provides adequate space for children to play and learn.
  •  Invest in quality equipment, furniture, and supplies to create a safe and stimulating environment.
  • Hire qualified staff members who are passionate about childcare and possess the necessary qualifications and certifications.
  • Market your daycare through local advertising, a Daycare.com listing, community outreach, and networking with other childcare providers.
  • Establishing strong relationships with parents and prioritizing the well-being and development of the children in your care will be essential for the success of your daycare in Montana.

Do I need a childcare license in Montana?

In Montana, the Department of Public Health and Human Services mandates that both home-based and center-based childcare program providers must obtain proper licensing or registration through the Child Care Licensing (CCL) program. Montana offers four categories of licensed or registered childcare programs: Family, friend, neighbor (FFN) providers: These caregivers offer services in their own residence or the child’s home, catering to either a sibling group of any size or up to four unrelated children. Family homes: These registered facilities operate within a provider’s residence, offering care to three to eight children on a regular basis. Group homes: These registered facilities, also located within a provider’s residence, provide care to nine to 15 children regularly. Childcare centers: These licensed facilities, situated outside of a provider’s home, offer care to 16 or more children on a regular or irregular basis. Providers are exempt from licensing requirements if they care for sibling groups or up to two children from separate households who are related to the provider. Daycare in Montana

Childcare licensing requirements in Montana

Prior to establishing a daycare center in Montana, it is essential to ensure that your program fulfills all licensing and training prerequisites in order to obtain a license. Family, Friend, Neighbor Provider A Family, Friend, Neighbor (FFN) provider offers care for a cluster of siblings or a maximum of four unrelated children either in their own residence or in the child’s home. FFN providers are required to undergo training, which encompasses health and safety protocols, FFN fundamentals, as well as obtaining first aid and CPR certification prior to the approval of a childcare license. Provider Requirements:
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Completion of an orientation approved by the department is mandatory.
  • Certification in infant choking response, pediatric first aid, and infant, child, and adult CPR is required.
  • A minimum of eight hours of approved annual training must be completed each year.
  • A health and safety review course must be completed every three years.
Ratio and Group Size Requirements: The Department of Public Health and Human Services does not impose staff-to-child ratios or group size requirements for FFN providers.FFN providers may care for up to four unrelated children or a sibling group of any size. Physical Space Requirements:
  • Indoor and outdoor play areas must be maintained in a clean, reasonably neat condition, and free of dirt, rubbish, or other health hazards.
  • If any part of the outdoor play area borders hazardous areas, it must be enclosed with a fence.
  • Outdoor play areas must be continuously visible and easily supervised by staff.
Health and Safety Requirements:
  • Cleaning materials, flammable liquids, and other hazardous substances must be stored in their original containers, clearly labeled, and kept in a location inaccessible to children.
  • Smoking is prohibited within the facility while children are under care.
  • Guns must be securely stored in locked storage, with ammunition stored separately in locked storage.
  • Trampolines are not to be used by children, and any present on the premises must be inaccessible.
  • Any pets or animals on the premises must be in good health, exhibit no signs of carrying disease, and be friendly toward children. The provider is responsible for maintaining the animals’ vaccinations and vaccination records.

Family and group home

Family and group homes are registered childcare facilities that provide care in a private residence or other building. Director requirements
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Complete facility overview training
  • Be immunized with a Tdap vaccine and one dose of the MMR vaccine
  • Sign a health attestation
  • Meet background check requirements
  • Complete a program management course within 60 days of becoming a director
  • Be registered on the Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP) Practitioner Registry
  • Be certified in infant choking response, pediatric first aid, and infant, child, and adult CPR
  • Complete the required early childhood teacher orientation
  • Complete sudden infant death syndrome, use of safe sleep practices, prevention of shaken baby syndrome, and abusive head trauma training
Family home capacity requirements
  • There must be at least two caregivers caring for children at all times when there are more than eight children present at a family home
  • No more than three children under the age of two can receive care in a family home unless the home exclusively cares for children under the age of two
Group home capacity requirements
  • There must be at least two caregivers caring for children at all times when there are more than eight children present at a group home
  • No more than six children under the age of two can receive care in a group home
  • Physical space requirements
  • Indoor and outdoor play areas must be clean, reasonably neat, and free of dirt, rubbish, or other health hazards
  • If any part of an outdoor play area is adjacent to hazardous areas, it must be enclosed with a fence
  • Outdoor play areas must always be visible and easily supervised by staff
  • Family and group homes must have a minimum of 35 square feet of indoor play and learning space per child, as well as 75 square feet of outdoor play space per child
  • All rooms must be dry, well-ventilated, and well-lit
Health and safety requirements
  • Family and group home staff must ensure that no smoking occurs within the facility while children are being cared for
  • Cleaning materials, flammable liquids, and other hazardous materials must be kept in their original containers, clearly labeled, and stored in an inaccessible location to children
  • Each level of the family or group home must have at least two emergency exits
  • A fire extinguisher must be easily accessible on each floor level and be mounted near outside exit doors
  • Smoke alarms must be installed in front of the doors to stairways, in corridors on each floor, and in all rooms where children sleep. Each alarm must be tested at least once a month and must be replaced every 10 years
  • Children are prohibited from using trampolines. Trampolines on the facility premises must be inaccessible to children
  • Telephone numbers of the children’s guardians, the hospital, the police department, the fire department, and the poison control center must be posted by each telephone

Childcare Centers:

The Department of Public Health and Human Services defines a childcare center as a licensed facility outside the home providing care for 16 or more children. Director Requirements:
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Completion of a background check is mandatory.
  • A health attestation must be signed.
  • Immunization with a Tdap vaccine and one dose of the MMR vaccine is required.
  • Completion of facility overview on-the-job training is necessary.
  • Registration on the Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP) Practitioner Registry is compulsory.
  • Certification in infant choking response, pediatric first aid, and infant, child, and adult CPR is required.
  • Completion of the required early childhood teacher orientation is mandatory.
  • Two years of experience in an early childhood program such as a licensed or registered child care facility or Head Start program, plus 32 hours of Early Childhood Project (ECP) training, or attainment of level 2 or higher on the ECP Practitioner Registry, is necessary.
Ratio and Group Size Requirements: Childcare centers must adhere to the following staff-to-child ratios and group size requirements:
Age Staff-to-child ratio Maximum group size
Newborn to 23 months old 1:4 12 children
Two to three years old 1:8 16 children
Four years old 1:10 24 children
Five years old and older 1:14 32 children
 Physical Space Requirements:
  • Each child must have a minimum of 35 square feet of usable floor space, excluding specific areas such as food preparation spaces, bathrooms, offices, staff rooms, corridors, hallways, closets, lockers, laundry areas, furnace rooms, cabinets, shelving, and other storage spaces.
  • Sleeping areas must ensure adequate spacing between children when utilizing sleep equipment.
  • If any part of an outdoor play area borders hazardous zones, it must be enclosed with a fence.
  • Outdoor play areas must maintain continuous visibility and easy supervision by staff.
Health and Safety Requirements:
  • Cleaning materials, flammable liquids, and other hazardous substances must be stored in their original containers, clearly labeled, and kept in an inaccessible location to children.
  • Telephone numbers for the children’s guardians, hospital, police department, fire department, and poison control center must be prominently displayed near each telephone.
  • High chairs must possess a wide base and include a safety strap.
  • Each child must be provided with clean, sanitized, and age-appropriate rest equipment, with crib mattresses and other rest gear regularly sanitized.
  • Children are not permitted to use trampolines, and any trampolines on the premises must be inaccessible.
  • Each level of the childcare center must have a minimum of two emergency exits.
Daycare in Montana Childcare license application in Montana Once you’ve determined the type of program suitable for your needs and ensured compliance with all licensing prerequisites, you may proceed with submitting your application for the appropriate childcare license. Below are the steps to follow for obtaining the necessary childcare license for your program.

FFN Provider Application:

Before becoming a registered FFN provider, you must undergo the following application process: Step 1: Complete the mandatory online health and safety course. Before initiating your application, ensure completion of the required online health and safety course. Step 2: Fulfill the necessary health and background check requirements. All individuals over the age of 18 must fulfill an FBI release of information form, undergo an FBI fingerprint background check, and provide a statement of health. Step 3: Submit your application. Complete the application for a registered FFN provider. Step 4: Undertake the FFN Fundamentals course. Complete the mandatory FFN Fundamentals course within 60 days of registration.

Family or Group Home Application

To apply for a license for a family or group home, follow this application process:

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with Montana’s regulations for family and group homes. Thoroughly review the State Regulations for Family and Group Childcare Homes. Step 2: Satisfy the required background check criteria. Complete an FBI release of information form and undergo an FBI fingerprint background check. Step 3: Complete a licensing attestation form. Submit a Department of Public Health and Human Services licensing attestation form. Step 4: Submit your application. Complete a New Application for Family or Group Child Care. The application must be signed by the owner of the family or group home. Step 5: Provide an insurance verification form. Complete an insurance verification form and have it signed by your insurance agency. Step 6: Develop an emergency plan. Draft an emergency/disaster drill report and a written emergency plan for your family or group home. Step 7: Provide the required additional documentation. Alongside your application, include any additional documentation requested.

Childcare Center Application:

To initiate the licensing process for a childcare center, follow these steps: Step 1: Familiarize yourself with Montana’s regulations for childcare centers. Thoroughly review the Licensing Requirements for Childcare Centers. Step 2: Fulfill the required background check criteria. Complete an FBI release of information form and undergo an FBI fingerprint background check. Step 3: Submit your application. Complete a New Application for Child Care Center. The application must be signed by the director or owner of the childcare center. Step 4: Provide an insurance verification form. Complete an insurance verification form  and obtain the signature of your insurance agency. All childcare centers must carry current public liability insurance and fire insurance. Step 5: Develop an emergency plan. Draft an emergency/disaster drill report and formulate a written emergency plan  for your childcare center. Step 6: Supply the necessary additional documentation. Include additional documentation requested with your application, such as: Choosing the most suitable licensing option for your daycare hinges on your business needs. Whether establishing a center-based program or launching a preschool at home, consider your objectives, business plan, and community requirements. Daycare in Montana

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Montana

Upon obtaining your daycare license or registering as an FFN provider, adherence to regulations set forth by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services becomes imperative. Both childcare licenses and FFN provider registrations hold validity for one year. Renewing Your Childcare License or FFN Provider Registration For FFN provider registration renewal, the following steps are necessary:
  • Submitting an annual renewal application
  • Completing eight hours of annual training
Renewing a Family or Group Home License entails:
  • Submitting the documents specified in the family or group childcare facility renewal checklist
  • Undergoing annual inspections conducted by the state fire marshal and public health authorities
  • Providing an FBI fingerprint background check every five years
Renewing a Childcare Center License involves:
  • Submitting the documents outlined in the childcare center renewal checklist
  • Undertaking annual inspections conducted by the state fire marshal and public health authorities
Final Considerations Commencing a daycare business is an enriching endeavor that necessitates meticulous planning. It is essential to review and adhere to the aforementioned guidelines to obtain licensing and embark on the journey of delivering high-quality childcare services to 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 https://www.Daycare.com/signup

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