Certifications Needed to Open a Daycare

Your dream is to open a daycare. That’s why you’re here right? It’s a good dream to have and it could make for a very rewarding and decently lucrative career. But, there are some certifications needed to open a daycare in most states.

Most people who want to open a daycare will ask themselves, “What certifications do I need to open a daycare?” Here are some of the possible requirements:

  • Diploma or GED
  • Family Child Care Home License (in-home daycare)
  • Food Handler Certification
  • First Aid and CPR Certifications
  • General Business License
  • Group Family Child Care License
  • Health and Safety Permit
  • Director’s License

Your specific requirements will depend on your state and the city your daycare is located in. You’ll need to make sure you reach out to your local governing agencies to find out what the criteria is for your area.

For now, though, we’re just going to talk about the certifications in our list because you’re going to need, at least, some of these.

High School Diploma or GED

At the very least, you’ll likely be required to have either your high school diploma or your GED. Generally, it doesn’t matter if you are opening an in-home daycare or a separate commercial daycare center, you’ll be expected to have your basic education completed.

It’s best (if you did not complete high school) to just go ahead and get your GED before trying to obtain any of the other licenses or certifications needed to open a daycare.

Family Child Care Home License

A Family Child Care Home License is used to help regulate certain issues surrounding the care-taking of people’s children. Provisions of this type of license can include things like building safety, the number of children that can be cared for, health-related topics such as immunization and cleanliness, nutritional guidelines, supervisory expectations, and training requirements.

Every state has its own licensing rules to follow. A good resource for looking up the requirements in your state is the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations. You can look up your specific state and easily find what is required for you, in terms of licensing, to open a daycare.

Food Handler Certification

Many daycare center workers do a lot of food handling. Because of this, sometimes a food handler certification will be required. The certification will include a course for you and any of your employees to complete and a fee to pay for everything involved with the certification process.

This requirement is determined based on what other licenses are held by the daycare professionals, and whether or not food is actually prepared on-site. If there is no food preparation done at the daycare, you shouldn’t have to have this certification.

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First Aid and CPR Certifications

Most states do require that daycare professionals all hold first aid and CPR certifications. Anyone who is responsible for the care of children should be certified to deliver first aid or CPR in emergent situations that could arise.

There are different ways to go about getting your certifications for these. There are classes you can take through the American Red Cross that will help you and your staff get prepared to open your daycare. There are other online entities offering this type of training too. Just make sure you check to see that whatever certification agency you choose to do your training through will be recognized by your state’s government.

General Business License

In most states, any small business will be required to obtain a general business license. You’ll find this to be more of just an application process. There could be a fee associated with getting the license also, but there isn’t usually much to getting a general business license. It’s mostly about providing necessary information regarding the business you will be opening.

Group Family Child Care License

The Group Family Child Care License could be needed if you are planning to open a daycare that cares for a greater number of children. There are laws that regulate how many children, and of what ages, one adult can have in their care at one time.

These rules will vary by state. If you’re planning to care for more than 4-6 children, you’re likely going to need to get a Group Family Child Care License. This type of license will allow you to hire more help so that you and your employees are allowed to have more children in the daycare center at the same time.

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Health and Safety Permits

Health and safety permits are built around stipulations set by the government for standards of health and safety. Your daycare center facility, whether it’s an in-home daycare or housed in a commercial building, will have to meet standards that have been developed to help provide children with a safe and healthy place to receive their care in.

There may be an inspection included as a requirement to acquire one of these permits. If there is something that is not up to the standards that have been set, you’ll be expected to fix whatever it is before you will be granted your health and safety permit. You may also have to have another inspection performed. You should keep in mind too that any cost associated with the change and the inspections will likely fall on you, the applicant.

Child Care Director’s License

In some states, there may be a credential known as a child care director’s license. If you are planning on being the director of your daycare yourself, then this is something you will have to get. If you are going to be hiring someone else to take on the role of director at your daycare, then that person will have to obtain this license. Again, that’s only if the state requires it.

This license isn’t usually one that comes by simply filling out some information on an application and paying the fee. There will likely be conditions that have to be met along with the application and fee. You could find stipulations for the amount of experience needed, education requirements, age restrictions, and mandatory completion of specified training programs.

A daycare center director’s job is to run the entire operation. This person is who is responsible for the day-to-day business. They are also going to be in charge of the employees working in the daycare, when there are other staff members. It’s a good idea to make sure the person you choose to do this job is as prepared as possible. So, whether your state requires the license or not, you or your chosen director may want to look into a program that will earn you this certification regardless.

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Just Remember

Upon reading this article, you should now know what kind of certifications you could be required to get. The thing to remember is that regulations are different in different states, and sometimes in different cities within a state. There are certifications and licenses for home daycares, first aid and CPR, food handling, health and safety, general business, group family child care centers, and daycare center directors. Find out what your local governments require and get to work on acquiring the appropriate certifications that you need to open a daycare in your desired location.

Related Questions:

What are some other considerations for opening a daycare?

Something you need to consider if you’re going to open an in-home daycare is how that will affect your family members. The government will require that all adult members of your household be fingerprinted and have background checks performed. Make sure that the members of your family are aware of this and are ok with it. You won’t be able to open your in-home daycare if someone refuses to submit to these checks.

Another consideration that many people don’t think about is the possibility of medical testing. One test that is required most of the time is a tuberculosis check. You, your employees, and the members of your household in the case of an in-home daycare, all need to pass a TB test to be cleared to open a daycare center.

Some states require that daycare owners and other professionals working with them participate in an orientation session that the state has developed to inform daycare workers of what is required and expected from them. The guidelines and laws that must be adhered to as a daycare center operating within the state will be clearly laid out so children can be cared for in a safe and healthy manner. A fee is usually associated with this session on a per person basis.

How long does it take to get a daycare license?

This is something that is going to vary from state-to-state also. The time it takes to get your license or certification will depend on how big your governing agency’s workload is at the time you apply. A general guideline you can go by, though, is to allow for around six months of processing time before you will likely be receiving your daycare license.

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.

Get more information on starting a daycare business with our easy-to-use startup documents here.

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