Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

How to Start a Daycare in New Hampshire

Post by

Picture of Daycare Staff

Daycare Staff

At Daycare.com, our articles are penned by a dynamic team of seasoned experts who've spent years in the trenches with kids and daycare center owners. Imagine a mix of laughter, learning, and aha moments distilled into every article! From playful tips for early childhood education to navigating the wild ride of daycare provider life, we're your go-to source for reliable info with a side of fun.

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

  • Begin by conducting thorough research on licensing requirements outlined by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Next, develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your daycare’s mission, services offered, target market, and financial projections.
  • Secure suitable premises that meet state safety and health standards, ensuring there’s ample indoor and outdoor space for children to play and learn. Obtain necessary permits and licenses, including zoning approvals and background checks for staff.
  • Invest in quality childcare supplies, furniture, and educational materials.
  • Develop policies and procedures for staff training, curriculum implementation, and emergency protocols.
  • Market your daycare through local advertising, a daycare.com listing, social media, and networking with parent groups.
  • Consider joining professional associations for childcare providers to stay updated on industry best practices and regulations.

Building a reputation for excellence in childcare and prioritizing children’s well-being will help establish a successful daycare in New Hampshire.

Do I need a childcare license in New Hampshire?

The issuance of daycare licenses in New Hampshire falls under the jurisdiction of the Child Care Licensing Unit (CCLU). The primary responsibility of the CCLU is to ensure that children enrolled in childcare programs are placed within safe and healthy environments, where they receive appropriate care, supervision, and developmental activities tailored to their individual physical and emotional needs. In New Hampshire, acquiring a license is mandatory for childcare programs falling into various categories :

Family child care home

Operated by a provider within their residence, this program caters to a maximum of six preschool children alongside up to three children participating in full-day school programs, with limitations on the number of children under three years old.

Family group child care home

Involving one provider and one family child care worker or assistant, this program accommodates seven to twelve preschool children, with similar provisions for children enrolled in full-day school programs and restrictions on children under three years old.

Group child care center

This center-based program serves children aged three to six, with allowances for up to four children under three years old and up to five enrolled in full-day school programs. Maximum group sizes vary depending on the ages of the children.

Daycare in New Hampshire

Infant/toddler program (child care nursery)

Center-based programs catering to five or more infants and toddlers under three years old.

Preschool program

Structured center-based programs for children aged three and above who are not attending full-day school programs, operating for up to five hours per day.

School-age program

Family, family group, or center-based programs for six or more school-age children, offering care before or after school and during school vacations.

Night care program

Center-based, family, or family group programs providing childcare during evening or nighttime hours between 7:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

Residential child care program

Offering 24-hour care for unrelated children, these programs require a qualified program director and may be licensed under various categories such as group child care home, child care institution, or independent

License exempt program

The following types of child care are exempt from licensing by the CCLU:

  • Residential settings where childcare is provided exclusively for the provider’s own children or those related to or living with the provider.
  • Educational programs aimed at teaching specific skills such as music, dance, sports, or arts and crafts to children.
  • Daytime programs including kindergartens, nursery schools, or other educational institutions operated by public or private elementary or secondary schools, or higher education institutions.
  • Childcare services integrated with religious activities attended by parents or solely focused on religious instruction.
  • Municipal recreational initiatives, encompassing after-school and summer programs designed for children.
  • Private residences where the caregiver regularly cares for any combination of the provider’s own children, whether through biological relation or adoption, along with up to three additional children, for less than 24 hours per day, unless the caregiver opts to comply with statutory requirements for licensing.
  • Facilities providing limited childcare services as an adjunct benefit for the general public, typically associated with shopping centers, ski resorts, bowling alleys, or similar establishments where parents or guardians are present on-site or in close proximity and readily accessible.

Childcare licensing requirements in New Hampshire

Before launching your daycare venture, it’s imperative to craft a comprehensive business plan and ensure compliance with state licensing regulations in New Hampshire. Here are some of the requirements you need to fulfill:

Provider and staff requirements

Family child care

Family child care providers must:

  • At least 21 years old.
  • At least 18 years old with documented proof of high school graduation or equivalent, such as a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), High School Equivalency Test (HiSet), or Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), along with meeting one of the following criteria:
  • Completion of a department of education-approved two-year childcare curriculum.
  • Completion of college courses totaling six credits in child development, early childhood education, elementary education, or related fields, with at least one 3-credit course focusing on child growth and development from a regionally accredited college.

Child care center

For center-based programs (excluding those solely functioning as school-age programs), the appointment of a center director necessitates meeting the following criteria:

  • A minimum age of 21 years.
  • Possession of a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Documentation confirming successful completion of at least 3 credits in child development and 3 credits in management or supervision from a regionally accredited college or university, or alternatively, a minimum of 2 years of supervisory or managerial experience in lieu of the management and supervision credits.
  • Accumulation of at least 1,500 hours of experience working with children in a licensed childcare program or public or private elementary school.
  • Possession of one of the following:
    • An associate’s degree in child development, early childhood education, elementary education, or a related field from a regionally accredited college or university.
    • An additional 3,000 hours of childcare experience in a licensed program or elementary school setting along with a valid Child Development Associate (CDA) credential in center-based programs awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition.
    • Current certification in early childhood, elementary, or special education by the Department of Education.
    • Certification in a teacher preparation program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) in infant and toddler, early childhood, or elementary I, satisfying the 3-credit child development requirement if certified in infant and toddler or early childhood, along with 60 credits from a regionally accredited college or university.
    • Documentation of 60 credits from a regionally accredited college or university, including at least 24 credits in child development, early childhood education, elementary education, or other child-focused fields, with at least 3 credits in children with special needs, child growth and development, and curriculum for early childhood education.
  • The center director or a qualified substitute director must be present on-site for at least 60% of the program’s operating hours during the daytime.
  • For night care programs, this presence is also required for at least 60% of the program’s evening and nighttime operating hours.

Daycare in New Hampshire

School-age program

School-age programs must have a site director who meets the following conditions:

  • A minimum age of 20 years.
  • Possession of a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Fulfillment of at least one of the following conditions:
    • Demonstration of qualification and employment as a site director in a school-age program prior to the effective date of the rules in 2017.
    • Attainment of an associate’s degree in child development, education, recreation, or a related child-focused field from a regionally accredited college or university.
    • Certification of successful completion of training as a recreation director along with 1,000 hours of experience working with children in a licensed childcare program, recreation program, or a public or private elementary school.
    • Completion of a total of 12 credits in child development, education, recreation, or related child-focused fields from a regionally accredited college, coupled with 1,000 hours of experience working with children.
    • Current educator certification from the Department of Education.
    • Accumulation of 2,000 hours of experience working with children, alongside:
      • Current certification as a para II educator from the Department of Education, or
      • Enrollment in a course for at least 3 credits in child development, education, recreation, or related fields from a regionally accredited college or university, with a documented plan for completing at least 3 additional credits.
      • Within 12 months of commencing work as a site director, successful completion of at least 6 credits in child development, education, recreation, or related fields from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • The site director or a qualified substitute director must be present throughout all operating hours if the program operates for five hours or less per day. If the program operates for more than five hours daily, the site director or qualified substitute director must be present for at least 60% of each day’s daytime operating hours.

Capacity and ratio requirements

Age of Child

Child:Adult Ratio

(Number of children per adult)

Group Size

(Maximum number of children per room)

6 weeks to 12 months 4:1 12
13 – 24 months 5:1 15
2 years 6:1 18
3 years 8:1 24
4 years 12:1 24
5 years + 15:1 30

Child care center

The staff-to-child ratio requirements for group child care centers and preschool programs are below.

For children aged 36 to 47 months (with a maximum group size of 24), staffing requirements are as follows:

  • One associate teacher supervises up to 8 children.
  • Alternatively, one associate teacher collaborates with one assistant teacher for a group size ranging from 9 to 16 children.
  • In cases where the group size reaches 17 to 24 children, one lead teacher works alongside two assistant teachers.

For children aged 48 to 59 months (with a maximum group size of 24), the staffing configuration is as follows:

  • One associate teacher manages a group of up to 12 children.
  • Alternatively, one associate teacher collaborates with one assistant teacher for a group size ranging from 13 to 24 children.

For children aged 60 months and older (with a maximum group size of 30), the staffing arrangements are as follows:

  • One associate teacher supervises up to 15 children.
  • Alternatively, one associate teacher collaborates with one assistant teacher for a group size ranging from 16 to 30 children.

Additionally, irrespective of the aforementioned staff-to-child ratios, group child care centers and preschool programs are required to have a second staff member present in the building when the number of children reaches 11 or more.

Infant/toddler program

The staff-to-child ratio requirements for infant/ toddler programs are below.

For infants aged 6 weeks to 12 months (with a maximum group size of 12), staffing guidelines are as follows:

  • One associate teacher oversees a maximum of 4 children.
  • Alternatively, one associate teacher collaborates with one assistant teacher for a group size ranging from 5 to 8 children.
  • In scenarios where the group size reaches 9 to 12 children, one lead teacher works alongside two assistant teachers.

For toddlers aged 13 to 24 months (with a maximum group size of 15), the staffing arrangement is as follows:

  • One associate teacher manages a group of up to 5 children.
  • Alternatively, one associate teacher collaborates with one assistant teacher for a group size ranging from 6 to 10 children.
  • In cases where the group size reaches 11 to 15 children, one lead teacher works alongside two assistant teachers.

For children aged 25 to 35 months (with a maximum group size of 18), the staffing configuration is as follows:

  • One associate teacher supervises up to 6 children.
  • Alternatively, one associate teacher collaborates with one assistant teacher for a group size ranging from 7 to 12 children.
  • In scenarios where the group size reaches 13 to 18 children, one lead teacher works alongside two assistant teachers.

Regardless of the aforementioned staff-to-child ratios, infant/toddler programs are required to have a second staff member present in the building when the number of children reaches 5 or more.

School-age program

The staff-to-child ratio requirements for school-age programs are below.

For children aged 56 months or older (with a maximum group size of 45), the staffing ratios are as follows:

  • One group leader supervises up to 15 children.
  • Alternatively, one group leader collaborates with one assistant group leader for a group size ranging from 16 to 30 children.
  • In cases where the group size reaches 31 to 45 children, one site director works alongside two assistant group leaders.

In school-age programs, it is mandated that a second staff person be present in the building when there are 13 or more children in attendance.

Health and safety requirements

Childcare programs must establish and maintain a safe and healthy learning environment free of hazardous conditions including:

  • Adherence to state fire codes, encompassing the maintenance of smoke detectors, and ensuring doorways, hallways, and staircases remain unobstructed.
  • Mitigation of electrical hazards, such as damaged or crimped extension cords, exposed outlets, and overloading of electrical circuits.
  • Installation of handrails on staircases with three or more steps and equipping stairways accessible to children under three years old with functional, securely latched safety gates.
  • Addressing gaps ranging from 3½ inches to 9 inches in structures like play equipment, lofts, decks, or balconies, accessible to children.
  • Utilization of protective barriers on open windows to prevent falls.
  • Installation of sturdy screen doors with latches on open exits to prevent unsupervised exits.
  • Implementation of screening on doors and windows to prevent insect entry.
  • Addressing issues such as loose or peeling paint, cords posing strangulation risks, and flooring hazards like holes, loose tiles, or throw rugs.
  • Management of damp conditions leading to visible mold, mildew, or musty odors.
  • Elimination of poisonous or hazardous plants and ensuring matches, lighters, and other ignition devices are inaccessible.
  • Prohibition of lit candles or items with open flames that pose a risk to children.
  • Securing heavy furnishings or items prone to tipping over to prevent accidents.
  • Maintenance of cleanliness and regular upkeep to prevent disrepair.
  • Prohibition of trampolines, except for small indoor ones under direct adult supervision.
  • Prevention of exposure to toxic fumes from chemicals or materials.
  • Elimination of suffocation hazards such as empty plastic bags or other items.

Furthermore, childcare programs are required to maintain written approval from the local fire inspector and submit a plan to the Department of Health and Human Services for the installation of any water features in play areas.

Background checks

To ensure the safety of children, all personnel and household members involved in licensed childcare and residential programs must undergo comprehensive background checks. These checks are mandatory before individuals start caring for and having regular interaction with children, and upon staff or household members reaching the age of 18.

Background checks encompass various measures, including fingerprinting via Livescan using the Department of Safety CHRI Applicant Portal or through local police departments. Additionally, individuals who have resided in other states within the past five years are subject to out-of-state abuse and neglect checks. Furthermore, New Hampshire will soon conduct criminal record checks on individuals who have lived in specific states within the past five years.

Daycare in New Hampshire

Childcare license application in New Hampshire

Whether you’re establishing a center-based program or initiating a home preschool, you’re required to undergo the license application process, which involves submitting an application along with supporting documentation to ensure compliance with specific regulations. Here are the steps involved in applying for a childcare license in New Hampshire:

Step 1: Complete the application packet

The application packet includes the subsequent documents:

  • Application form
  • Childcare personnel health form, requiring completion by a licensed health practitioner
  • Health officer inspector report
  • Life safety compliance report for each building, to be filled out by a fire inspector
  • Zoning verification form, necessitating signature and date from a zoning official representing the city or town
  • Household and personnel form
  • Criminal history record information authorization form

The applicant is required to submit all of these requirements in a single package. In the event that any form is absent from the packet upon submission, the licensing unit will return the packet to the applicant.

Additionally, the program must provide the following supplementary documentation:

  • Documentation from the Secretary of State pertaining to trade names and company type, such as limited liability company details.
  • Educational documents for family or family group child care providers aged between 18 and 21 years.
  • Educational and experiential documents for the director and staff, including certificates, transcripts, diplomas, and resumes.
  • Documentation demonstrating completion of professional development requirements for family child care providers, center directors, site directors, and site coordinators.
  • Current certification in pediatric first aid and CPR.
  • An emergency response plan based on the Incident Command System (ICS).

Step 2: Schedule a site visit

Following the submission of your complete application packet, a licensing coordinator will arrange a visit to your daycare facility. During this visit, the coordinator will review licensing rules with you and assess your compliance. It’s essential to have a copy of your current water test results (if applicable) and certification in pediatric first aid and CPR available during the visit.

Step 3: Await approval

If the site visit is successful and all licensing requirements are met, the department will approve you for licensure. Once you obtain your license and select a business name, you can officially commence marketing your daycare to prospective families.

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in New Hampshire

Adhering to licensing regulations is essential for the continued operation of your daycare business in New Hampshire. When it comes to renewing your childcare license, it’s imperative to submit all necessary renewal application materials at least three months prior to the license’s expiration date.

Here are additional measures to ensure compliance:

Maintain staff-to-child ratios

Ensuring the correct staff-to-child ratios enables your team to supervise children effectively while offering individual attention to address their specific needs and foster their development. New Hampshire mandates specific staff-to-child ratios for each type of childcare program, which must be strictly adhered to.

Complete professional development requirements

Directors, administrators, and other childcare personnel responsible for child supervision, or essential for maintaining staff-to-child ratios, must fulfill and document a minimum of six (6) hours of professional development. This requirement must be met within 90 days of commencing employment or within two weeks for programs operating three months or less annually.

The six-hour professional development requirement encompasses the following topics:

  • Orientation to childcare licensing
  • Strategies for preventing and managing infectious diseases, including vaccination protocols
  • Techniques for preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and implementing safe sleep practices
  • Administration of medication
  • Handling emergencies related to food allergies and other allergic reactions
  • Measures for preventing shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma
  • Planning and response protocols for emergencies
  • Proper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials and biocontaminants
  • Safety precautions during transportation of children, including training for personnel responsible for transportation
  • Training in first aid and CPR
  • Identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect
  • Understanding child development, covering cognitive, physical, social, and emotional aspects
  • Familiarization with all components of the emergency operations plan

Additionally, all childcare staff must undergo background checks every five years to ensure compliance with regulations.

In cases of non-compliance with licensing rules, the department may take the following enforcement actions:

  • Imposition of administrative fines
  • Imposition of conditions on a permit or license
  • Suspension of a permit or license
  • Denial of an application for a new or renewed license
  • Revocation of a permit or license

The Childcare Licensing Unit (CCLU) achieves its objective of ensuring safe childcare environments through various measures, including on-site assessments, monitoring, investigations, and implementing appropriate disciplinary actions when necessary to ensure compliance and safeguard children.

Start a daycare in New Hampshire

Obtaining a childcare license stands as the initial crucial step towards initiating and managing a childcare venture in New Hampshire. Through thorough planning and careful attention to detail, you can efficiently navigate the essential prerequisites, paving the way to establish a business that significantly influences the lives of children for years to come.

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

Share this:

Related article:

Embarking on the journey to start a daycare in Alabama, whether it’s a cozy home daycare or a…...
Starting a daycare in Alaska demands thoughtful consideration of the distinct challenges and prospects posed by the state’s…...
Starting a daycare in Arizona requires careful planning and adherence to state regulations. Whether you are embarking on…...