How to Start a Daycare Center in Louisiana

If this title caught your eye, it is probably because you are thinking of opening a daycare center in Louisiana. Let me start by saying that starting a daycare is a worthy venture if done correctly — even more so if you are planning on doing it in highly populated cities such as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.

However, take it from an experienced daycare owner, opening (and successfully operating) a daycare center comes with a great deal of responsibility and requires a lot of effort on your part. But, do not get discouraged; I am here to help!

Throughout this article, I will break the process down into five easy steps that will help you navigate the complex process that is opening a child care facility.

To successfully start a daycare center in Louisiana, you will need to:

  1. Define a Business Structure
  2. Secure & Accommodate a Location
  3. Meet All Education Requirements 
  4. Stock up on Supplies
  5. Comply with Legalities, Permits, and Licenses 

How to Start a Daycare Center in Louisiana

What is a Daycare Center?

Before we go over each of the steps mentioned above, let’s take a minute to explain what the state of Louisiana considers a “daycare center.” According to official documents, a child daycare center is:

“Any place or facility operated by any institution, society, agency, corporation, person or persons, or any other group for the primary purpose of providing care, supervision, and guidance of 7 or more children, not including those related to the caregiver, unaccompanied by parent or guardian, on a regular basiregularly1/2 hour in a continuous 7-day week.”

Thus, if this is your intention, keep on reading!

Steps to Open a Daycare Center in Louisiana

  1. Define a Business Structure

Louisiana classifies daycare centers into two categories: Class “A” and Class “B.” Home daycare centers fall into the Class “B” category, while Class “A” daycare centers are generally operated in a commercial space. Additionally, Class “B” centers tend to have less rigorous education, reporting, and staffing requirements than Class “A” daycares.

Hence, you will need to define which path you feel most comfortable pursuing to determine the structure that best fits your needs.

If you are just starting, I suggest you begin by opening a Class “B” daycare center. Why? Simple. You can operate from home, hire less staff, and invest considerably less money. And then, if everything goes according to plan and the business flourishes, you can expand to a commercial location.

  1. Secure & Accommodate a Location

Louisiana is very stringent about the laws related to daycare center locations. Thus, regardless of whether you are running a small daycare center off your basement or securing a spacious commercial space, you will need to make sure you comply with all state regulations.

Visit your local zoning department to determine if you can operate a daycare in your proposed location. If your proposed site is suitable, the zoning board will issue a permit. If it is not, then you have three options:

  • Option 1, look for a new place that meets all the requirements established by the state.
  • Option 2, remodel the existing space for it to be suitable for child care in Louisiana.
  • Option 3, build a daycare center from scratch.

Keep in mind that Louisiana requires detailed plans to be submitted and reviewed by the Office of State Fire Marshal before building or renovating any building larger than a two-family dwelling. Consequently, before changing an existing structure or building a daycare facility, you must submit plans and specifications to the Fire Marshall.

Additionally, make sure you are familiar with the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). It is the main document for fire and life safety requirements enforced for daycare facilities, covering essentials:

  • Construction (e.g., exits, interior finish, floor finishes, number of windows)
  • Hazard protection (e.g., emergency lighting, fire alarms, smoke detectors)
  • Electrical equipment
  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Handicap accessibility
  • And more

I highly advise that you hire a professional (e.g., architect, civil engineer) to prepare the plans and meet code regulations.

  1. Meet All Education Requirements 

You and your staff must also meet the minimum education requirements to operate a daycare center, such as:

  • Be at least 18 years old 
  • Have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with at least 12 hours of child development coursework or an Associate’s degree in child development
  • At least one year of experience as a childcare giver
  • Be certified in First Aid/CPR/AED with extensive knowledge of childcare safety
  • Have specialized training in child abuse detection and prevention

Note that in some cases, these requirements might vary. However, to avoid any legal issues, make sure you (and your personnel) comply with them. And if you have any questions about whether your experience is acceptable or need additional training, I suggest you contact your local office.

Aside from having adequate training or certifications, other skills are not required by law, but that you must consider if you want to open a daycare center — qualities that are usually ‘must-haves’ when working with children such as:

– Great interpersonal skills

– Excellent communicational abilities

– A mature and positive personality

– Good problem-solving strategies

– Professional presence and appearance

Furthermore, competent caregivers are sensitive and accepting of different cultures, races, and religions. Based on my experience, these traits are just as important as degrees or certifications.

How to Start a Daycare Center in Louisiana

  1. Stock up on Supplies

As you may have guessed, the list of supplies needed to open a daycare is long and highly expensive. But do not panic! You can make your way through the list as time passes. Below I will share the essentials to get you started.

  1. Safety:

– First Aid Kit

– Smoke Detectors

– Fire Extinguisher

– Emergency lights


  1. Cleaning/Sanitizing:

– Hand Sanitizer/Hand Soap

– Wipes/Toilette Paper

– Plastic bags

– Mop/Broom

– Cleaning bucket

– Disinfectant

– Multi-purpose Cleaner


  1. Art Supplies:

– Pencils/Colors/Markers

– Watercolors/Tempera paints

– Masking Tape

– Colored paper

– Scissors

– Glue


  1. Toys:

– Puzzles

– Books

– Legos/Wooden blocks

– Board Games

– Play Dough


  1. Nap-Time & Eating-Time

– Mats

– Blankets

– Pillows

– Plates

– Cups/Baby Bottles

– Spoons

– Bibs/Aprons


  1. Furniture

– Desks

– Chairs

– White/Blackboards

– Tables

– Cupboards

Of course, you will need many other things, but once you have purchased the basics mentioned above, your center will be 95% ready. Also, know that supplies vary greatly depending on the number of kids, teachers/assistants, and the center’s structure (e.g., full-time, part-time, offers after-school activities).

  1. Comply with Legalities, Permits, and Licenses 

You will then need to submit an application from the Department of Children and Family Services for licensure. Depending on the number of children and the business structure, you decided the annual care facility licensing fees can range from $25 to $600. Plus, know that you must also provide three personal references and agree to undergo a background check with your application.

To wrap up the formalities, a licensing specialist from the Department of Children and Family Services will contact you to schedule inspections by the Office of the State Fire Marshall, Sanitation Services, and Office of Public Health. Once your center passes all of the necessary inspections, the state will issue your license.

Louisiana also requires you to secure several insurance policies. Aside from the regular General Liability coverage, Property Insurance, and Worker’s Compensation insurance, you might even be requested to have:

  1. Professional Liability insurance
  2. Abuse and Molestation coverage
  3. Commercial Auto insurance

Lastly, know that there is a specific ratio of children: staff that you must also comply with depending on the ages and number of children you plan to care for.

Age Range Ratios for Center Based Care in Louisiana State

6 weeks (1:6)

9 months (1:6)

18 months (1:8)

27 months (1:12)

3 years (1:14)

4 years (1:16)

5 years (1:20)

6 years – School age (1:25)

How to Start a Daycare Center in Louisiana

Related Questions

  • How much money does it cost to start a daycare center?

Depending on the scope, the initial investment required for a childcare center in the United States varies from $10,000 to $50,000. This number includes legalities, certifications, insurance policies, supplies, and marketing. Nonetheless, there might be other expenses to consider, including building renovations, payroll, and more.

  • How much money do you make owning a daycare?

Daycares can be highly lucrative, but they also incur costly expenses. As a result, the vast majority of daycare owners do not earn an extremely high salary. According to recent statistics, the average daycare owner’s net profit in the United States is roughly $20,000 per year or $9.81 an hour.

  • What are the legal implications of unsafe childcare centers?

Owning and operating a daycare center is a big responsibility. Childcare providers are legally liable for the children in their care. Therefore, if a child is injured, gets food poisoning (or in extreme case scenarios is abducted, sexually, or physically abused), the center’s owner and staff would be held accountable.

As a result, depending on the circumstances, legal implications range from a sanction or admonition to lawsuits or incarceration.

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.

Louisiana awaits, start your new centre now with  our startup course and documents.

How to Start a Daycare Center in Louisiana