When starting a daycare center, it’s important to understand all the rules and regulations behind such a business venture before you get started. One particularly important aspect is the business zoning laws. So the question remains, what are the zoning laws for a daycare?
Daycare zoning laws are laws designed to deal with the incredibly unique circumstances of a daycare operating in a residential neighborhood. The specific details of these laws must be met if a residential daycare wishes to continue operating as planned.
What are daycare business zoning laws?
A daycare operating in a residential area is a unique circumstance, but it certainly is not uncommon.
What that means is that while it’s not uncommon for daycares to operate in residential areas, it is a unique circumstance under the law.
Zoning laws are specific laws passed to deal with a business operating in a residential area.
These laws seek to minimize the negative effects that the business may potentially bring while also allowing these businesses to operate to the fullest capacity possible.
On that same note, daycare business zoning laws have a similar goal, which is to negate the potentially negative effects that a daycare business operating in a residential area may potentially bring.
What are the potential negative effects that these laws work to prevent?
When operating a daycare in a residential area, there is the possibility of unintended negative effects, including:
Increased traffic in a neighborhood can be an unintended but potentially annoying issue for an often otherwise quiet neighborhood.
Increased business signage
With any business comes the potential for an increase in the number of signs in the surrounding area. This can be an even more annoying issue in a residential area where people are simply trying to live their life.
The construction of fencing and playground equipment
When opening up a daycare center, most cities require both fencing and playground equipment on the grounds of the daycare. If you do not already have this equipment, constructing it can be a bit of an inconvenience for those living in the neighborhood.
Common restrictions placed by daycare zoning laws
Daycare zoning laws place several restrictions on residential daycare centers, many of which are similar or identical to most counties.
Most zoning laws include the following restrictions for residential daycare centers:
Restrictions on the number of children of certain ages
In many counties, zoning laws may have a part in dictating how many children of specific ages are allowed to be under the care of a daycare center at a time
Hours of operation
Many community zoning offices will place restrictions on the potential hours of operations for a daycare center. These restrictions are made to ensure that the extra noise that comes with a residential daycare center does not interrupt the lives of others living in the neighborhood too significantly.
A maximum of 8 to 10 children at once
The zoning laws in most communities dictate that residential daycare centers can have a maximum of 8 to 10 children in their care at once This restriction is in place to ensure that the increased traffic and noise do not become a problem for the residential community at hand.
Applying for a daycare business zoning permit
In most communities, if you wish to operate a daycare business in a residential area you do have to apply for a permit to do just that.
Most people, however, are unaware of how exactly to apply for such a permit if they need to.
As such, the steps required to apply for a daycare business zoning permit will be discussed below!
Finding the application at your county zoning office
Discovering the application at your local zoning office is the first step. In many cases, your zoning office may have the permit filed under a different name, including those such as:
- Conditional use permit
- Administrative use permit
- Minor use permit
- Use permit
Any of these names may be how your county office has it filed, so it’s important to check all of the options and make sure you have the correct form before you start filing.
File the application specific to your community
The application required for a permit like this can be quite extensive. However, it is important if you wish to legally operate a daycare center in a residential neighborhood.
The application will generally require things such as a blueprint of the property, a description of how it will be used, a document showing proof of ownership, documentation that the home is up to code, and on top of everything a zoning fee.
Wait to see the results of your application
After you apply, all you can do is wait to see if it has been accepted or not.
If your file is accepted then you’re good to go!
On the other hand, however, if your permit is not accepted, then your first step will be to get in contact with the zoning department to find out why exactly your permit was denied.
After you find out why exactly your application is not accepted, you may be able to fix the issue depending on why it was denied.
Consequences for operating without a zoning permit
Operating a daycare center in a residential neighborhood without a zoning permit is illegal.
But what exactly are the consequences of doing so?
As with any minor violation of the law, the first major consequence will be a potentially hefty fine.
To find out what exactly the fine will be if you do operate without a permit, you should first contact your local zoning office or perhaps the local police.
You will also most likely have your daycare business shut down and your license stripped from you.
With your license stripped, you most likely will not be able to qualify for another one and thus will not have the chance to operate another daycare center.
It’s also very possible that your local zoning department will refuse to issue you permits in the future as a result of your violation.
In very rare cases, the offender may face imprisonment for their violations, although this almost never happens.
- What are the space requirements for a daycare center?
A majority of states have laws dictating the minimum amount of space required for a daycare center to operate.
Most states, however, have very similar requirements for all the daycare centers in their states.
As such, most states include the following basic requirements for all daycare centers:
- Must have 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child
This first requirement is pretty self-explanatory, simply stating that for every child that a daycare center is operating, the center must have, at the very least, 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child in the care of the daycare center.
This indoor space is used for activities such as learning, playing, napping, and any other possible activities that a child will complete in a day.
- Must have 75 square feet of usable outdoor space per child
For every child that is outside at a single time, a daycare center must have at least 75 square feet of usable outdoor space.
This space is used for motor development as well as keeping the children active and in the outdoors.
- Check with your state children and family department
Although in most states, the requirements are very similar if not identical to those listed above, you should check with your state children and family department, or whatever department regulates daycare centers in your states, for the specific regulations.
By checking with your state department before you decide to open a daycare center, you can be sure that you are following the laws and thus take away the chance that you will be fined for not following such laws.
- What requirements does a daycare need to meet to legally operate?
Although some states may vary slightly on the necessary licenses to operate a daycare center, the general requirements will be consistent from state to state.
These requirements include things such as:
- A child care license
Child care licenses are usually given out by the state’s department of children and families.
These licenses are given out to those who meet the requirements that the state has set and are a sign that whoever holds the license is legally allowed to care for children as a legal business.
If you were to operate a daycare center without holding a child care license, you would be violating the law and will face the punishment set by the state.
- A business license
Business licenses are held by anyone who wishes to legally operate an IRS registered business.
Because of how common they are, they are also fairly easy to receive.
The best way to do so is to go through a business licensing service as a way to streamline the process through a professional.
Once you have a business license then you’re one step further to legally opening your daycare center!
Most states will require anyone who works in a daycare center to have a minimum number of hours of child care training.
This training is to ensure that anyone who works at a daycare center will know exactly what they are doing when taking care of children.
This training also includes basic first aid and CPR training to prepare you for a possible emergency.
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.
Once you have your location sorted, continue setting up your Daycare with our startup course and documents.