How to Start a Daycare in Indiana

Starting up a new business can be scary if you are unsure which direction to turn. Opening a daycare center is not only a lot of responsibility but also is a very rewarding career choice.  In the state of Indiana, there a few things that you will need to understand before you begin your new career as a daycare owner.

To start a daycare in Indiana, you will need to make sure your daycare center follows the state license regulations, is in full compliance with the background check requirements, is in compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, and is in compliance with the CCDF Provider Eligibility Law.

Three are three types of centers: childcare center, childcare home, and childcare ministry.  In the following paragraphs, you will learn about each of the four areas that will help you to ensure you are in compliance with the state of Indiana as a new daycare owner.

How to Start a Daycare in Indiana

License Regulations

 A childcare center must be licensed.  For your license to be issued, you must follow health, food, safety, and sanitization standards.   Your license will expire after two years unless advised otherwise by the state.  It is required that you have at least one employee who is CPR trained and certified.

Before you can open your daycare, an onsite state inspection will also have to be conducted.  The facility must abide by the fire and life safety rules by the fire marshal.  Annual inspections will be conducted, and the fire marshal can either pop by the facility announced or unannounced.

A childcare home also must be licensed.  This license will have the number of children authorized onsite on the license.  As with a childcare center, inspections will be conducted annually onsite and inspections can be announced or unannounced by the fire marshal.

Childcare ministries are exempt from a state license as well as exempt from federal income taxation.  Onsite inspections will be conducted just like childcare centers and childcare homes.  It is required that the ministry makes the parents aware if they are an unlicensed daycare facility.

Having a drug-free zone, a tobacco-free zone, and an alcohol-free zone for your daycare center is a must whether you are operating a childcare center, childcare home, or a childcare ministry.  Background checks and drug screenings must be conducted for all individuals who are working with children in daycare centers, whether they are an employee or a volunteer, in the state of Indiana.


Background Check Requirments

 When it comes to childcare and safety, the state of Indiana has a few strict rules that apply to staff members.  These requirements are in place for licensed and unlicensed childcare centers, childcare homes, and childcare ministries.

All staff members, whether they are compensated employees or just a volunteer, must participate in a background check in order to work in the childcare industry.  If you are operating a childcare home, all adults the age of 18 or older must participate in the background check as well.

What is included in the criminal background check?  You will be required to be fingerprinted and your fingerprints will be run in both the Federal and Indiana State databases.  Your information will also be submitted to the Indiana state sex offender registry as a precaution to be sure you are not a sex offender.  You will also go through the child Protection Index  which monitors child abuse and neglect.

How often does a criminal background check need to be completed?  Every three years, however, if an applicant has not been employed in childcare within the last 180 days, a new criminal background check will be required to be conducted.  A state sex offender registry and child protection index is required to be conducted once a year.

On the website, you will be able to find a list of disqualifying misdemeanor and felony crimes.  If you or any of the individuals you have in your facility committed any of the crimes you find listed, then you will not be able to pass the criminal background check or be able to work in the childcare industry.

How to Start a Daycare in Indiana

American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that you must not discriminate against individuals with disabilities if that individual is looking for employment.  The ADA also states that you must provide all children with an equal opportunity when participating in a service, program, or activity.  Such as allowing children to play and learn together.  All children have the right to be included with their peers in all age-appropriate activities.  It is also required that the special needs and interests of each child be addressed.

Special Education services can be offered at your daycare center by your choice.  To make sure you are within guidelines, you should reach out to your school system’s main office (also referred to as the county school board administration).   One main guideline you will need in place is a professionally trained special education teacher. You may also be required to have some accommodations in your center such as a wheelchair ramp.


CCDF Provider Eligibility Law 

CCDF stands for the Childcare and Development Fund. This law was set in place for unlicensed childcare programs and concentrates of these specific areas: safe conditions, daily activities, nutrition, group size and ratios, and continuing education.

The CCDF requires that you have and maintain a written policy describing your safety measures  in your childcare facility for motor vehicles used to transport children.  You must submit this policy to the Office of Early childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL), have it posted in a public location in the facility, as well as provide a copy to each parent or guardian of each child.

The CCDF states that daily activities be age-appropriate and provide developmental skills.  Children should play outside daily unless there is severe weather, a safety hazard, or a health hazard.  Any health-relates reasons should be documented by the child’s parent, guardian, or physician.

The CCDF also informs that drinking water should be available at all times.  As well as children should have an appropriate time to eat a nutritious meal.  Snacks should also be available and meet the needs of the children.  Children are allowed to bring lunches and snacks from home as well.

The staff to child ratio will vary depending on the number of students you have in the facility. Please see the following chart below for specifics on what your facility will require provided by the Indiana website.

Unless the provider is a parent, relative, or custodian, at least twelve hours of continued education must be conducted annually and approved by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL).  This specific training may include, child abuse and prevention, first aid, CPR, or safe sleeping practices.  All training and continued education must be maintained in a safe place and be available to the OECOSL upon request.

How to Start a Daycare in Indiana

Additional things to Remember:

  • Get with the city, town, or county in which you decide to set up your daycare to be certain there are no additional regulations and requirements.
  • Follow up with your insurance agency to make sure you have the proper coverage for your daycare. This may also vary depending on your city, town, or county of location.
  • Get with your public water system company to be sure that your water fountain is in regulation. It is required for sampling and certifications every so often.
  • Create flyers and get involved with community events to remind the community that you are there to serve them.
  • Be sure to include a balanced curriculum for your students. Children from the ages of 0-4 are learning routine and development skills such as emotional skills and social skills.


Related Questions  

What kind of financial assistance do I qualify for starting a daycare?

Grants and subsidies can help you with expenses.  Some grants are for low-income families who need assistance paying for daycare. The Childcare and Development Fund (CCDF) is offered by the state of Indiana.  In order to find out what grants and vouchers you qualify for you can visit:


Are there any programs that can help me if I decide to have a Special Education Program?

The state of Indiana has a special education funding program.  This program is designed to not only help with the children but also will help you with the expense of having a special education teacher onsite.


What kind of tax credits do I qualify for as a daycare owner?

As an owner of a daycare, you are able to receive some tax credits for employee expenses and childcare resources.  Just about anything that you purchase for your daycare center, you will be able to write off on your taxes.  Visit the Internal Revenue Service website, where you will be able to find a list of items that are eligible to use for deductions.

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.

Looking for more information? Checkout our startup course and documents here.

How to Start a Daycare in Indiana