Georgia, also known as the “Peach State”, has a recent job growth rate of 2.63% and a future job growth rate of 43.93%. Georgia has 159 counties as well as has a 93.4% overall cost of living percentage. With this in mind, daycare centers are definitely in high demand in Georgia.
In order to start a daycare center in Georgia, you will need to understand and choose which type of daycare you will operate. You will need to also learn and adhere to all state regulations and training.
Family Child Care Learning Home (FCCLH)
A family child care learning home is a daycare center that is operated in a private residence. You are legally able to operate a daycare in your own home, in a HOA neighborhood, in a rental property, or in an apartment complex.
If you do not own your own home, you must provide your current lease with your family child care learning home center application. If you live in a neighborhood where there is a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) you will need a letter from the HOA in order to open your daycare. If you live in an apartment complex, as long as the leasing office provides written approval, you can legally operate your business in your apartment.
A family child care learning home center is designed for three, but no more than six children under the age of 18. The safety of children is very important. Anyone residing in the home 17 years of age or older is required to have a criminal background check. You are also required to have a fire inspection by your county fire marshall.
A water or sewer bill within the last 12 months must be submitted along with your family child care learning home center application. Your license is not transferrable, so if you move you must apply for a new license and go through the licensing process all over again.
For a family child care learning home center training is required for CPR and for first aid. Training must be obtained within the first 90 days of employment.
For a family child care learning home center, there is a requirement of 20 hours of pre-service training. In order to maintain your license, you must complete 10 hours of annual training related to the care of children.
Child Care Learning Center (CCLC)
A child care learning center is operated in a commercial building. A child care learning center provides care for seven or more children under the age of 18. Just like a family child care learning home center, a fire inspection is required by the county fire marshall.
If you are buying a center, you will need to complete and submit a change of ownership application. Licenses and permits are non-transferrable so if you change locations, you will be required to apply for a new license.
Just like a family child care learning home center, a child care learning center is required to conduct a background check on all staff members. The background check also requires the applicant to be fingerprinted. Background checks must be conducted every five years from the original submission.
Background checks must also be conducted whenever the department makes a request. Anytime there is a lapse in employment for six months or longer, that employee must resubmit a background check. If someone is arrested or charged with a crime, a background check will be required as well.
For a child care learning center, training is required for CPR and for first aid. Training must be obtained within the first 90 days of employment. For a child care learning center, the center director must successfully complete both CRP and first aid training. At least 50% of the staff in a child care learning center must complete the same training.
For a child care learning center, there is a 40-hour training course that the director is required to take. Just like a family child care learning home center, a child care learning center is also required to complete 10 hours of annual training related to the care of children.
Regulations and Training
The Georgia Department of Early Child and Learning (DECAL) explains that all applicants must obtain the licensing packet for the type of child care program they are planning to operate.
In order to operate a family child care learning home center or a child care learning center, it is mandatory that the applicants attend licensure orientation meeting (LOM). Once the orientation meeting has been completed, you are then able to submit your application to open your daycare.
It is not required for an existing license holder to apply for another child care learning center license to attend another orientation within two years following completion. If the applicant is applying for multiple child care learning center licenses at one time, then the applicant is only required to attend one orientation.
There is an annual licensing fee that you must pay in order to get your license. See the chart below for annual license fee amounts. The amount that you pay for your license will be determined by the number of children that you care for in your center. Once you have paid your license fee and it has been processed, your license will be emailed to you.
|Annual License Fees|
It is important to make sure you are equipped to care for all of the children you have on-site. Standard equipment needed for your daycare includes high chairs, tables, chairs, teaching supplies, and more. As an operating daycare center, you will also be required to have a child to toilet and sink ratio.
|Child to Toliet and Sink Ratio|
|Children||Toilet & Sink|
It is required that one additional toilet and sink be added for each additional 25 children.
Daycare centers shall provide a daily planned program that is varied and provides routine and developmentally appropriate activities. The daycare center must also use a variety of teaching methods such as individual or group activities, muscle activities, language experiences, and more.
Exercise is an important part of child development. An outdoor and indoor play area is required and must be sturdy and free of hazards. An outdoor play area is required for any home or center-based daycare. Having these play areas will allow children to run around an be physically active.
What about children with special needs? Any center that has a child with special needs must be in compliance with the Disabilities Act. If your center is not set up for a special needs child, you must make accommodations if you have a special needs child enroll.
There is staff to child ratio regulations as well. The staff to child ratio is as follows.
|Age Group||Max Group||Staff:Child Ratio|
So, if your center has 20 three-year-old children, you will need to have two staff members. It is regulated that you must have one teacher for every 15 children you have in your three-year-old class.
Nutrition is a very important part of a child’s development. A kitchen must be present where food is prepared and should follow all sanitation regulations. There are many tools at your fingertips that will help you with nutrition for your daycare. You can find menu planning tools, recipe ideas, and additional tips and ideas to help implement the updated meal patterns and best practices in the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning nutrition section.
- What are the requirements for animals in a Family Child Care Learning Home (FCCLH)?
If you have animals, you must keep them confined while you have children on the premises. Any animals in your home must have current vaccinations. You will need to submit a copy of your animal’s vaccination records with your license application.
- How do I find out if my center qualifies for a license exemption?
You must complete an exemption application to see if your daycare center qualifies for an exemption. You can find the exemption form in the exemption section on the Georgia DECAL site. State, government, and private non-public daycare centers qualify for license exemption.
- How often do I need to renew my CPR and first aid certifications?
CPR certification will expire after two years and will be required to be renewed every two years. The first aid certification will expire after three years and wil be required to be renewed every three years.
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.
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