How Do You Become a Licensed Daycare?

Opening your very own home daycare can be a great business venture, but there are specific steps you will have to do. To run a legal business, you will have to ensure that you get a license for your business. Depending on where you live, there will be different rules you need to adhere to.

How do you become a licensed daycare owner?

In the United States, most states require that you have a high school diploma and apply for a license on your local state government website. Many sites offer training and a license in six months, but the training for a license can also last up to two years.

You can take several online courses to help get your license and a few basic steps you can take to prepare your home for your new business. Before you apply for your license, you will want to make sure you pass your state requirements.

Steps Needed For A License

In many states, you will need to be 18 years or older to open a home daycare. You will need to have a high school diploma, and depending on what kind of facility you are running and the license you are applying to, you will need to show you have some vocational training as well. Some states may even want to see some early childhood development courses. Here are the basic steps.

Acquire the application

The easiest way to do this is to go to your local child care licensing unit or CCLU. Be sure to go to your state and then download the application. You will want to fill this out completely and not miss any steps. It can take up to 120 days for an agent to approve you. Some states will require you to have multiple forms filled out. For example, in New Hampshire, you will need:

Child Care Personnel Health Form
Health Officer Inspection Report
Life Safety Compliance Report
Zoning Verification form
Household & Personnel form
Criminal History Record Information Authorization Form

Find a space

One of the first things a licensing agent will look at is the space you have set up for the kids. If it is dangerous, hazardous, or not big enough for the number of kids you watch, they may tell you to relocate.

Proof of education

How Do You Become a Licensed Daycare?Be sure to let the licensing agent know exactly what education you have and how it would apply to the business you will be running.

Take extra classes

While you are waiting for your license to be approved, it is good to take other courses they may want to see. Take CPR and learn how to provide care for emergencies. Take a physical exam from a doctor to ensure you’re healthy. All of this information can help get your license approved. Some states may make these a requirement to get a license.

Have proof of existing hours

If you have worked with children before, that is a great thing, and you will want to show proof. Some states may require you to have up to 1,000 hours of childcare hours.

These are some things you may need proof of depending on the state you are in. No matter where you are, you should always check with your state’s website.

Can You Run A Daycare Without A License?

Depending on the state you’re in, you may be able to watch one or two children without needing a license. However, if you are watching more than two as well as your own, you will want to apply for a license for liability reasons. It is a way to protect you and the ones you’re watching. If you plan to expand and hire other people to help take care of the kids, you will want to ensure you get a license.

Pros And Cons of Running a Home Based Business

All licenses require different applications; running a business from home can be much easier than running it elsewhere. It can help speed up the application process, but you will also have many rules to follow.


Less traveling
The best thing about owning a daycare run in your home is that you won’t have to travel far. This can attract neighbors and your local community to be potential clients.

Control over the environment
If anything needs to be changed and you own your home, you can easily make renovations to accommodate your daycare. You can create rooms and update where you will take care of the kids.

Being comfortableHow Do You Become a Licensed Daycare?
Homes always feel more comfortable. Though you will have to ensure that your home is always clean to make other parents happy. It feels less sterile, and this can attract many clients.

Less paperwork for a license
In some states, it is actually way easier to obtain a license for an at-home daycare. This can be one of the best benefits of running your own daycare. If you only watch a few children you may not even need a license depending on where you live.

A smaller amount of kids
Most home daycares tend to have smaller numbers of kids in the program because of space constraints. This means it can be for one family with multiple kids and a few neighborhood kids. If you plan on opening anything bigger you may need to find a better location other than your home.


Depending on where you live, which country, territory, and state, it may actually be harder to open a home daycare. In most states, it is okay to provide childcare to under two children. However, because there are so many rules and regulations, it may not be okay in your state.

More requirements
In some states, an agent from the CCLU may come out and want to inspect your home. They will want to ensure the safety and quality of your home.

Accurate records
Though you are an at-home daycare provider, you will need a place to keep records straight. You will need to also have things like immunization shots and all contracts signed by parents.

Disaster plansHow Do You Become a Licensed Daycare?
You will need to have a disaster plan somewhere in your office or records that cover your home in case of an emergency. It will need to be well thought out and planned. These plans can be more complicated to create since it involves your home.

Finding a visible location for the license
Once you receive your license, you will need to make sure it is hanging up somewhere where all your customers can see it. You will also want to post your training certificates, like CPR certifications, first aid, and universal precaution. These are things everyone will want to see before you get your license. It can be harder to showcase all of these in your home, where it can get cluttered.

Learn how to open your in-home daycare HERE!

Do You Need a License To Babysit

You do not need a license for babysitting in most states because it is a short term high paying contract. However, some classes teach you how to babysit and provide licenses for babysitters. This class can go over CPR and other skills you should know as a babysitter.

A daycare often gets paid less, has more children, requires a license, and is a lot more work. These are the main differences between babysitting and running a daycare. Anyone can be a babysitter, but it takes work and dedication to run a daycare facility.

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to find the exact steps of getting a license for your daycare is by going to your state website. You will need to make sure that you have all of the requirements and a space set up appropriate to host kids.

Once you have everything in order, you will get a license in a few months. Depending on the state you’re in, it can take several months. It is important to set up your license before you start accepting kids to your daycare.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What education is required to run a daycare?
Most states require you to be 18 and have a high school diploma. However, if you are running your program out of a school, some states will require you to have a college degree in early childhood development or the equivalent.

Is a daycare director the same as an owner?
A daycare director can be the owner or the most experienced staff member who oversees the other employees. Directors are responsible for setting daily activities, programs, budgets, and planning. They oversee every aspect of the business.

What are the duties of a daycare owner?
Owners will do all of the hiring, training, promotions, talking with parents, and overseeing the entire facility. There are times when this will also overlap with being the director.

How many hours does a daycare need to operate?
Many daycares operate between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm and have regular hours. To run a successful business, you will want to choose a set time and stick with it for most of the year. Daycares get business between the typical working hours of most Americans. It is important to open earlier and a little later to give parents options.

How Do You Become a Licensed Daycare?

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.

To learn more on how to start your own daycare checkout my startup course and documents here.