With my experience in child care management, I have found that obtaining and maintaining a child care license takes a lot of work. Today I am going to help simplify the process by providing an 8 step checklist you can follow so you can obtain a child care license for your center. As we walk through these steps, keep in mind that each State and Province have different rules and regulations. In my attempt to keep the list broad to encompass all areas but also detailed, just remember that you will need to research your own licensing agency to confirm what their process is as well.
Here are 8 steps to obtaining your Child Care License:
- Find Local Licensing Agency: The first step in the process is to find your local licensing agency. In the US, each area has an assigned licensor depending on where your center is located. The first step is to find out who that person is and gain their contact information.
- Contact your Licensor: Once you have located your local office, the next step is to contact them. Connecting with the licensor assigned to your area early on in the process will be a huge benefit to you. This is also a great way to ensure that you’re staying on track with your checklist for their individual requirements.
- Review Regulations/ Check for Eligibility: Once you have connected with a licensor, the next step is to review their regulations and see if your child care center is eligible for licensing. Sometimes there will be changes or modifications you can make to your center to qualify for licensing. Check out their requirements to make sure that your center is eligible to move forward in the process. This is an essential step, don’t waste your time continuing this checklist if your center is not going to be eligible in the long run.
- Attend Orientation: Most licensing offices have an orientation for new center directors and owners to attend. Make sure you check with your local office and sign up early for an orientation. They do fill up quickly (at least in my area). At this orientation you will learn all about the licensing process and how to move forward. Often licensors require this orientation before starting the application process.
- Submit Application: Each office has their own process but most licensing agencies have an application process. It is best to start this as soon as you can, as it will depend on when you get your actual license. Most offices are required to give you your licensing within a timeframe of when you submit your application. The application requires some basic paperwork and some documentation. It can take time to collect the documents needed, so allow for that in your plan.
- Attend Site Review: At some point, most licensing agencies will send someone out for an inspection of your center. This often includes the Fire Marshall in the area. When you schedule this, don’t forget to ask for their checklist ahead of time so you can review the items they are looking prior to their visit. This will help to ensure that your center is ready for the review. If your center does not pass the first time, don’t worry. Often they will give you some time to fix the items needed.
- Pay Licensing Fees: Nothing is truly free anymore, is it? Most licensing agencies have a fee that goes along with the initial license as well as a yearly fee after that. Most licensing agencies charge a fee for the initial license, in addition to a yearly fee. Make sure you pay these fees or it will impact your license.
- Submit Background Check and Staff Clearance: One of the biggest things you and your staff will need to complete is a background check. In my State, each team member is required to add themselves into the licensing system, submit a background check and get fingerprinted. Start this process early, as it will take some time to get your whole team completed.
If this is your first time obtaining a childcare license or you have done it many times before, my hope is that this simple checklist is helpful for you. As you work through opening a new center or licensing your current one, know that you are not alone. Check out our other blogs on how to open a childcare center and also grow your child care business. We are here to help you along the way!