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How to Start a Daycare in Pennsylvania

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Daycare Staff

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Are you curious about how to start a daycare in Pennsylvania?

 Starting a daycare in Pennsylvania involves several key steps to ensure compliance with state regulations and to create a safe and nurturing environment for children.
  • First, thoroughly research the licensing requirements outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) to understand the criteria for operating a daycare facility.
  • Next, develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your mission, services offered, budget, and marketing strategies. Consider factors such as location, facility layout, and staff qualifications when selecting a suitable site for your daycare.
  • Obtain necessary permits and licenses from local authorities and undergo background checks for all staff members as required by state law.
  • Design a curriculum that promotes early childhood development and create policies and procedures for health, safety, and emergency preparedness.
  • Additionally, invest in liability insurance to protect your business and clients.
  • Finally, market your daycare services to families in your community through advertising, a daycare.com listing, networking, and community outreach efforts. By following these steps diligently, you can establish a successful daycare business in Pennsylvania that provides quality care for children and peace of mind for parents.

Do I need a childcare license in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, obtaining a childcare license is mandatory for operating a daycare business that caters to three or more children who are not related to you. However, if you are providing care for your own children or those of a relative, you are exempt from this requirement under state regulations.

In Pennsylvania, a childcare license is essential to guarantee that daycare centers adhere to the health and safety standards mandated by the state. The regulation of childcare licensing in Pennsylvania is overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), which is obligated to offer services and programs aimed at aiding families and individuals in need throughout the state.

Specifically, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), which operates under the management of the DHS, is tasked with overseeing the licensing procedures. This responsibility encompasses conducting orientations and facility inspections. Additionally, all childcare licensing is supervised by the OCDEL’s Bureau of Certification Services. For any inquiries or concerns, individuals are encouraged to reach out to their local regional child development offices for further information and assistance.

As mentioned earlier, Pennsylvania mandates licenses for three categories of daycare facilities: childcare centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes:

  • Child Care Center: A facility that provides childcare services to seven or more unrelated children.
  • Group Child Care Home: A facility that provides childcare services to seven to 12 unrelated children.
  • Family Child Care Home: A facility that provides childcare services to four to six unrelated children.

Childcare licensing requirements in Pennsylvania

Besides obtaining the suitable daycare license for the childcare enterprise you plan to establish, it is crucial to develop a robust business plan. This plan will serve as the foundation for your business, detailing your mission statement, policies and procedures, budget allocations, and marketing strategies.

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Child care center requirements

Facility persons

A staff member is required to:

  • Be 18 years of age or older (although individuals aged 16 or older may serve as staff if enrolled in an accredited curriculum and meet state guidelines)
  • Complete a minimum of six hours of childcare training
  • Possess either a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential, along with nine credit hours in early childhood education, and one year of relevant experience

A volunteer should:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Receive direct supervision from a staff member

A director must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or a related human services field, and have one year of experience working with children

A group supervisor is required to:

  • Possess a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or a related human services field, along with one year of experience working with children

An aide must:

  • Have either a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate

Staff-to-child ratio

The following ratios apply when children are grouped by similar age levels:

Age LevelsStaffChildrenMaximum Group SizeTotal Number of Staff Required for the Maximum Group Size
Infant1482
Young toddlers15102
Older toddler16122
Preschool110202
Young school-age112242
Older school-age115302

If children are grouped in mixed age levels, the ratio of staff to children is determined by the youngest child in the group.

Physical facility requirements include:

  • Provision of indoor and outdoor areas for physical activities such as running, climbing, and jumping.
  • Ensuring that the number of children does not surpass the facility’s maximum capacity.
  • Ensuring that indoor and outdoor activity spaces are solely dedicated to childcare-related activities.
  • Maintaining safe walkways, free from hazards like snow, ice, or other obstacles.
  • Prohibiting smoking within the facility premises.
  • Ensuring there is a sufficient supply of safe drinking water available.
  • Providing a first aid kit stocked with essential supplies such as soap, bandages, tape, scissors, and tweezers.
  • Equipping the facility with fire safety and management equipment.
  • Developing a documented plan outlining daily activities.

Equipment requirements entail:

  • Supplying age-appropriate play materials, including toys.
  • Ensuring that all play materials are clean and safe.

Nutritional standards involve:

  • Serving safe and nutritious food to children.
  • Adhering to food handling practices in compliance with Department of Health standards.

Group child care home requirements

Facility persons

A staff person must:

  • Being 18 years of age or older (although individuals aged 16 or older may serve as staff if enrolled in an accredited curriculum and meeting state guidelines).
  • Completion of at least six hours of childcare training.
  • Possession of either a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential, along with nine credit hours in early childhood education and one year of experience.

A volunteer must:

  • Being at least 16 years old.
  • Receiving direct supervision from a staff member.

A primary staff person must have:

  • Hold a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and have earned 30 credit hours in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or a related human services field; or
  • Possess a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate, along with 600 or more hours of secondary training; or
  • Hold a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate, have completed 15 credit hours in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or a related human services field, and have one year of experience working with children; or
  • Have a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and have finished a postsecondary training curriculum; or
  • Possess a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate and have two years of experience working with children.

A secondary staff person must have:

  • Have a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate; or
  • Have at least an eighth-grade education and be enrolled in a child development program; or
  • Have completed the eighth grade and have two years of experience working with children.

Staff-to-child ratio

These ratios should apply when children are grouped by similar age levels:

Age LevelsStaffChildrenMaximum Group SizeTotal Number of Staff Required for the Maximum Group Size
Infant14123
Young toddlers15123
Older toddler16122
Preschool110122
Young school-age112121
Older school-age115151

The age of the youngest child in a group determines the staff-to-child ratio when children are grouped in mixed age levels.

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Physical site requirements include:

  • Ensuring there are designated indoor and outdoor areas for active play, such as running, climbing, and jumping.
  • Adhering to the facility’s maximum capacity to ensure it is not exceeded by the number of children.
  • Reserving outdoor and indoor activity spaces solely for childcare-related activities, prohibiting any unrelated uses.
  • Maintaining safe walkways that are clear of hazards like snow, ice, and other obstacles.
  • Enforcing a no-smoking policy within the facility.
  • Providing an ample supply of safe drinking water.
  • Equipping the facility with a fully stocked first aid kit containing essentials like soap, bandages, tape, scissors, and tweezers.
  • Installing fire safety and management equipment.
  • Developing a documented plan outlining daily activities.

Equipment requirements involve:

  • Supplying age-appropriate play materials, such as toys, for children’s use.
  • Ensuring that all play materials are kept clean and safe.

Nutritional standards encompass:

  • Serving safe and wholesome food to children.
  • Ensuring that food handling practices comply with Department of Health standards.

Facility persons

The operator must:

  • Being at least 18 years old.
  • Holding either a high school diploma or a general educational development certificate.

A staff person must:

  • Being at least 18 years old.
  • Possessing either a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential, along with nine credit hours in early childhood education and one year of relevant experience.

A volunteer must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Receive direct supervision from a staff member.

Staff-to-child ratio:

  • Ensure that the number of children under your care does not exceed six at any given time.

Physical site requirements:

  • Implement fencing or barriers around the outdoor play area if there are any nearby unsafe locations.
  • Maintain safe walkways that are free from snow, ice, and other hazards.
  • Enforce a no-smoking policy within the facility.
  • Ensure there is an ample supply of safe drinking water.
  • Equip the facility with a fully stocked first aid kit containing essentials like soap, bandages, tape, scissors, and tweezers.
  • Install fire safety and management equipment.
  • Develop a documented plan outlining daily activities.

Equipment:

  • Provide age-appropriate play materials, such as toys, for children’s use.
  • Ensure that all play materials are kept clean and safe.

Nutrition:

  • Serve safe and wholesome food to children.
  • Ensure that food handling practices comply with Department of Health standards.

Childcare license application in Pennsylvania

All childcare license applications adhere to a standardized process, whether for a child care center, group child care home, or family child care home.

Step 1: Obtain a certificate of occupancy

Before initiating the license application process, securing a certificate of occupancy is necessary, obtainable from the local municipality. This document verifies that your facility is appropriately zoned for operating a daycare business.

License approval prerequisites vary by locality, including zoning application fees. For comprehensive information, consult local authorities or access the PA Business One-Stop Shop website. to contact your local municipality.

Step 2: Enroll and attend an orientation

Pennsylvania mandates that childcare license applicants register for and participate in both online and in-person orientation. Ensure selecting the appropriate orientation based on the type of daycare center intended to establish.

Upon completing the online orientation, a digital certificate of completion, valid for 12 months, is issued. Promptly proceed with the application process before expiration. Subsequently, register with your regional OCDEL office and attend an in-person orientation.

Upon completion, you’ll receive a certificate valid for one year. Refer to the DHS site for orientation details.

Step 3: Complete and submit your application

Submit a comprehensive application to your Regional Office of Child Development and Early Learning. A complete application comprises:

  • A fully filled and signed Form PW 633 for certificate of compliance application
  • Certificate of occupancy
  • Criminal record check for all daycare management personnel, accompanied by pertinent documents from the Pennsylvania Child Abuse Registry, Pennsylvania State Police criminal history, and FBI fingerprinting
  • Disclosure statement for the legal entity, representative, and/or responsible person
  • Relevant business documentation, such as articles of incorporation, certificate of registration, etc.
  • Fictitious name approval, if necessary
  • Certificate of Tax Exempt Status, if nonprofit
  • Civil Rights Compliance Approval letter
  • Proof of completion for both online and in-person orientations
  • Evidence of childcare training completion
  • Certificate of completion for mandated reporter training
  • Civil Rights Compliance Questionnaire
  • Verification of compliance with the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the facility’s water

Access additional details about application materials here. For inquiries regarding child care licensing, including fees, contact regional child development offices or call the Pennsylvania State Department of Human Services (DHS) at 1-800-222-2108.

Step 4: Prepare for pre-licensing inspection and approval

Following the submission of your application, your regional child development office supervisor will conduct a review within 45 days. If your application is found to be complete and without errors, a representative from your regional office will reach out to schedule a facility inspection.

During the inspection, your facility will be assessed for compliance with DHS standards. Upon successful completion of the inspection, you will be issued a regular certificate of compliance or license. With a business plan and the appropriate license, you are ready to commence your new venture.

Daycare in Pennsylavania

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a daycare license is valid for a period of 12 months, necessitating annual renewal to ensure compliance. As part of the renewal process, a mandatory facility inspection by the Department of Human Services (DHS) is required, serving as an assessment of adherence to state childcare regulations.

DHS will send a renewal notice 130 days before the license expires. You’re required to submit the license renewal information along with a Civil Rights Compliance Attestation form (CRC). You should email the license renewal information and CRC to the DHS office that issued your license.

Starting a daycare business in Pennsylvania

To establish and manage a thriving daycare business in Pennsylvania, it is imperative to comply with the state’s childcare regulations. The specific type of license required may vary depending on your business particulars, but ample resources exist to guide you through all the necessary steps. Once you have secured your license, you can shift your focus to the subsequent phase of your business journey.

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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