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How to Start a Daycare in Rhode Island

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To start a daycare in Rhode Island:

  • Begin by thoroughly researching the state’s licensing requirements for childcare facilities. Familiarize yourself with regulations regarding staff-to-child ratios, safety standards, and facility requirements.
  • Next, develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s mission, services offered, target market, and financial projections.
  • Secure appropriate funding for startup costs, which may include licensing fees, facility rental or purchase, supplies, and insurance.
  • Once financing is in place, locate a suitable facility and ensure it meets all safety and zoning requirements.
  • Hire qualified staff members who have the necessary certifications and background checks as per state regulations.
  • Advertise your daycare through various channels, including a com listing, to attract clients, and establish policies and procedures to ensure the smooth operation of the facility.
  • Finally, submit all necessary paperwork and undergo inspections to obtain your daycare license from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families, enabling you to legally operate your daycare business.

Do I need a childcare license in Rhode Island?

Selecting the ideal name and location for your center stands as one of the initial stages in launching your childcare enterprise. Prior to commencing operations, it is imperative to ascertain the most suitable type of childcare license for your program.

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services mandates proper licensing for the following childcare programs:

  • Family child care: These facilities operate within residential structures such as houses or apartments and cater to a maximum of eight children.
  • Group family child care: Similar to family child care, these providers operate within residential settings and offer care for a range of eight to 12 children.
  • Childcare centers: Situated typically in commercial premises, childcare centers extend care to four or more unrelated children aged between 6 weeks and 15 years, accommodating more children compared to family childcare providers.

Providers classified as license-exempt must have a familial relationship with the children under their care, who are enrolled in the Starting Right Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). License-exempt childcare providers are restricted from caring for more than six related children, and their own children under six years old are included in the maximum child count.

Daycare in Rhode Island

Childcare licensing requirements in Rhode Island

Prior to initiating a daycare center in Rhode Island, programs must adhere to the licensing and training prerequisites set forth by the Department of Human Services in order to obtain a childcare license.

The Department of Human Services mandates that childcare facilities maintain up-to-date records for both staff members and children.

Childcare center licensing requirements

Prior to obtaining a license for your childcare center, you must fulfill the subsequent criteria:

Administrator Qualifications:

All childcare center staff members must meet the staff qualifications and training requirements for their roles. To become an administrator of a childcare center, you must meet one of the following qualifications:

  • Hold a high school diploma, possess one year of professional experience in administration or business management, and have one year of experience working in a licensed or approved early childhood program.
  • Have successfully completed a minimum of 12 credits in early childhood education at the post-secondary level, possess two years of professional experience in administration and/or business management, and have two years of experience working in a licensed or approved early childhood program.

Furthermore, all staff members at childcare centers who directly engage with children must complete a fingerprint affidavit and undergo a background check conducted by the Rhode Island Attorney General every five years.

Staff-to-child ratio and group size requirements

Childcare center staff must maintain appropriate staff-to-child ratios and group sizes:

Age of children Staff-to-child ratio Maximum group size
6 weeks to 12 months 1:4 8 children
12 months to 18 months 1:4 8 children
18 months to 36 months 1:6 12 children
3 years old 1:9 18 children
4 years old 1:10 20 children
5 to 6 years old AND not in kindergarten 1:12 24 children
At least 5 years old AND in kindergarten 1:13 26 children

Requirements for Building Facilities:

Licensed childcare centers must adhere to the department’s building specifications, which include:

  • Classrooms designated for infants or toddlers must be situated on the ground floor.
  • Preschool classrooms should be located either on the ground or second floor.
  • Each preschool classroom must provide a minimum of 35 square feet of usable floor space per child.
  • Each infant or toddler classroom must ensure a minimum of 45 square feet of usable floor space per child.
  • Any classroom designated for infants or toddlers must offer direct access to the outdoors without the need for stairs or elevators.
  • The center must possess an outdoor play area enclosed by a permanent structure, with at least 75 square feet of usable outdoor space per child.
  • If fenced, the outdoor play area’s fence must measure at least four feet in height from the ground, permit staff to observe children, contain at least two exits, and be equipped with self-closing and self-latching mechanisms.
  • Outdoor trampolines are strictly prohibited.
  • Sandboxes, if used, must be covered when not in use and regularly cleared of foreign matter.

Health and Safety Requirements:

Licensed childcare centers are obliged to meet the department’s health and safety requirements, including:

  • Proper labeling and secure storage of toxic substances and potentially dangerous items, either within areas secured by child safety locks or out of children’s reach.
  • Posting of a regular cleaning and sanitation schedule, including provisions for deep cleaning.
  • Sanitization of eating tables before and after meals and snacks.
  • Daily emptying and sanitization of sensory water tables or similar receptacles used for water play.
  • Availability of a choke prevention gauge in programs serving infants or toddlers.
  • Development and implementation of an individualized, written emergency disaster plan by program administrators, approved by the department, supporting the needs of all children.
  • Posting of an individualized graphic evacuation plan in each classroom, indicating escape routes.
  • Displaying all required emergency phone numbers adjacent to the telephone.

Group family child care licensing requirements

Before you can receive a license to become a group family child care provider, you must meet the following requirements:

Group family child care licensing requirements necessitate compliance with the following prerequisites:

Provider Qualifications:

All staff members in group family child care must satisfy the qualifications and training standards for their roles. To qualify as a group family child care provider, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Attain a minimum age of 21 years.
  • Possess one of the following educational qualifications:
    • An associate degree or higher in child development, early childhood education, or a directly related field.
    • A Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate in family child care.
    • A current certification in child development.
    • Hold a high school diploma or GED, possess a minimum of nine credits related to young children’s care from an accredited higher education institution, and have five years of licensure as a Rhode Island Family Child Care Home provider with a license in good standing.
  • Obtain National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) or equivalent accreditation.
  • Maintain current certification in pediatric CPR and first aid.

Additionally, all staff members and household residents aged 18 and above must complete a fingerprint affidavit and undergo a background check conducted by the Rhode Island Attorney General every five years.

Staff-to-Child Ratio Requirements:

Group family child care providers must adhere to appropriate staff-to-child ratios, which are as follows:

  • A provider can care for up to 12 children.
  • If all children are under three years old, a maximum ratio of one staff member to four children (1:4) must be maintained.
  • With one assistant, a provider can care for a maximum of four children under 18 months old.
  • With two assistants, a provider can care for a maximum of eight children under 18 months old.

Children residing in a group family child care facility who are not of school age must be included in the facility’s maximum licensure capacity. Other household members or visitors do not count towards staff-to-child ratios unless authorized as an approved assistant or substitute.

Daycare in Rhode Island

Building Requirements:

Group family child care providers must meet the department’s building specifications, including:

  • Arranging spaces to foster play, encompassing individual and group play.
  • Ensuring classrooms facilitate clear pathways, visual supervision by staff, positive interactions, and children’s freedom of movement in safe, clean, and uncluttered areas.
  • Providing spaces that encourage safe exploration and interactions for children under two years old.
  • Offering a variety of developmentally appropriate materials for indoor and outdoor play to encourage exploration.
  • Maintaining a safe, protected, and hazard-free outdoor play area, enclosed by a minimum four-foot-high fence that prevents access to other areas.
  • Prohibiting the use of outdoor trampolines.

Health and safety requirements:

Group family child care providers must meet the department’s health and safety requirements,  including:

  • Toxic substances and potentially hazardous items must be conspicuously labeled and stored in an area secured by a child safety lock or beyond the reach of all children in the facility.
  • A routine cleaning and sanitation regimen, inclusive of provisions for deep cleaning, must be prominently displayed within the childcare center.
  • Eating tables must undergo sanitization both before and after meals and snacks.
  • Sensory water tables or any receptacles utilized for water play must be emptied and sanitized on a daily basis.
  • Programs catering to infants or toddlers must possess a readily available choke prevention gauge.
  • Providers are required to formulate and execute an individualized, written emergency disaster plan tailored to meet the needs of all children within the program, subject to approval by the department.
  • Each classroom must display an individualized graphic evacuation plan delineating escape routes.
  • All requisite emergency phone numbers must be prominently posted next to the telephone.

Family child care licensing requirements

Prior to obtaining a license to become a family child care provider, you must fulfill the following criteria:

Provider qualifications:

All family child care staff members must meet the staff qualifications and training requirements of their roles. To become a family child care provider, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Attain a minimum age of 21 years.
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED.
  • Possess current certification in pediatric CPR and first aid.
  • Complete Orientation to Family Child Care and pre-service training.
  • Fulfill a minimum of 24 hours of professional development.
  • Submit a physician’s reference and provide immunization information.

Additionally, all staff members and household residents aged 18 and above must complete a fingerprint affidavit and undergo a background check conducted by the Rhode Island Attorney General every five years.

Staff-to-child ratio requirements:

In family child care settings, maintaining appropriate staff-to-child ratios is imperative:

  • A family child care provider can oversee a maximum of six children, with no more than two children under 18 months, without requiring an assistant.
  • With an assistant, a family child care provider can supervise up to eight children, including no more than four children under 18 months.
  • If all children in the care are under three years old, a maximum ratio of one staff member to four children (1:4) must be upheld.
  • An assistant must be present to provide care when there are more than six children in a family child care facility, including more than two children under the age of 18 months.

Children residing in a family child care facility who are not of school age must be counted within the facility’s maximum capacity for licensure. Other household members or visitors do not contribute to staff-to-child ratios unless they are authorized as approved assistants or substitutes.

Building requirements

  • Family child care providers must meet the department’s building requirements, including:
  • Designing spaces to facilitate play, encompassing both individualized and group activities.
  • Ensuring classrooms permit clear pathways, enable visual supervision by staff, foster positive interactions, and offer children freedom of movement in a safe, clean, and uncluttered environment.
  • Providing facilities serving children under two years old with spaces conducive to safe exploration and interactions between children and staff.
  • Offering a diverse range of developmentally appropriate materials for indoor and outdoor play to encourage exploration.
  • Maintaining an outdoor play area that is safe, protected, and devoid of hazards.
  • Enclosing outdoor activity spaces with a fence measuring at least four feet in height to prevent access to other areas.
  • Restricting the use of outdoor porches above the first floor as play areas unless they are structurally sound and fully enclosed by wooden framing covered with a screen, glass, or comparable material.
  • Prohibiting the use of outdoor trampolines.

Health and safety requirements

Family child care providers are required to adhere to the health and safety standards stipulated by the department, which encompass the following:

  • Ensuring that toxic substances and potentially dangerous items are appropriately labeled and stored in an area secured by a child safety lock or beyond the reach of all children in the facility.
  • Displaying a regular cleaning and sanitation schedule, which includes provisions for deep cleaning, within the childcare center.
  • Sanitizing tables used for eating before and after meals and snacks.
  • Emptying and sanitizing sensory water tables or other receptacles utilized for water play on a daily basis.
  • Ensuring that programs catering to infants or toddlers have a readily available choke prevention gauge.
  • Developing and implementing an individualized, written emergency disaster plan that caters to the needs of all children in the program, which must be approved by the department.
  • Posting an individualized graphic evacuation plan in each classroom, delineating escape routes.
  • Displaying all required emergency phone numbers adjacent to the telephone.

Childcare center licensing application

To apply for a childcare center license, follow these steps:

Step 1: Contact the childcare licensing team

Contact the Department of Human Services, Child Care Licensing team either by emailing [email protected] or calling 401-462-3009. The licensing team will provide guidance on the requirements you need to fulfill before submitting an application.

Step 2: Complete an application

Review the “Application Requirements for Child Care Center and School Age Program Licensure” list found on pages 9 and 10 of the application. Ensure that your center meets all the application requirements. Complete parts one and two of the application. If you wish to become a CCAP provider, complete part three of the application.

Step 3: Submit your application, application fee, and additional documentation

Mail your application along with a nonrefundable $500 check or money order payable to the Rhode Island General Treasury, and any additional documentation to the Rhode Island Department of Human Services, Office of Child Care Licensing Team at 25 Howard Avenue, Building 57, Cranston, RI 02920.

Daycare in Rhode Island

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Rhode Island

Once you obtain your childcare license, it’s essential to remain compliant with the Department of Human Services regulations by undergoing annual inspections and ensuring timely renewal of your license.

Identifying the specific type of childcare facility you intend to establish will aid in maintaining compliance with the department’s regulations, as each type of licensed childcare center entails its own set of license renewal prerequisites. Furthermore, this understanding will assist you in crafting your business plan and devising marketing strategies to effectively reach out to families in your community who stand to benefit from your childcare services.

Childcare center license renewal:

For the renewal of your childcare center license, ensure to submit the following items at least 30 days prior to the expiration of your current license:

  • A license renewal application
  • Updated staff documentation
  • Evidence of fire, lead, and radon inspections carried out by the state fire marshal and Rhode Island Department of Health
  • A renewal fee of $500

Group child care license renewal:

To renew your group child care license, prepare the following documentation and fees at least three months before the expiration of your current license:

  • A license renewal application
  • Current background checks
  • Proof of fire, lead, and radon inspections conducted by the state fire marshal and Rhode Island Department of Health
  • Updated staff documentation
  • A notarized landlord permission form or proof of home ownership
  • Proof of liability insurance with capacity coverage
  • An emergency plan
  • A renewal fee of $250 along with any additional fees

Family child care license renewal:

For the renewal of your family child care license, gather the following documentation and fees at least three months prior to the expiration of your current license:

  • A license renewal application
  • Current background checks
  • Evidence of fire, lead, and radon inspections conducted by the state fire marshal and Rhode Island Department of Health
  • Updated staff documentation
  • A notarized landlord permission form or proof of home ownership
  • Proof of liability insurance with capacity coverage
  • An emergency plan
  • A renewal fee of $100 along with any additional fees

Start a daycare in Rhode Island

Embarking on a childcare business is a gratifying endeavor that demands meticulous planning and steadfast dedication. Make full use of the state resources at your disposal to guarantee that your center adheres to all necessary requirements. This will set you on the path to establishing a program that enhances the well-being of children and 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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