Child Care Licensing

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

A childcare license is required for all individuals and daycare centers that provide care to one or more children. To obtain a license, every facility needs to follow standard norms and undergo regular inspection. Licensing can be obtained from state licensing authorities. All applicants for childcare license require mandatory orientation. State agencies conduct background checks on all employees before granting the license to a facility.

As a parent, you should always inquire about the license of a daycare center or an individual. Ensure that the license is valid. In case a person or a center is operating without proper license, report them immediately to the local authorities.

All childcare facilities are inspected by licensing officials at least once a year to determine if they meet the minimum standards and licensing laws. Such facilities are also inspected at least once a year unannounced.

Licensing staff complete a compliance letter or compliance evaluation form when an inspection is conducted. The most recent letter or form is posted or available at the facility for parents' review.

During the process of monitoring, when a facility fails to correct compliances in a timely manner, action against the facility can result in evaluation, probation, suspension, administrative penalties, or revocation of the license or registration certificate.

All states recognize broadly two types of legal childcare facilities - one that is licensed and the other that is not licensed but yet legal. Although, it is always recommended that you put your child in a licensed facility, you may go with some of the unlicensed options to save childcare costs.

Licensed facilities are classified into:

  • Childcare Centers
  • Childcare Homes
  • Preschools
  • School Age Childcare
  • Large Home Childcare

Unlicensed facilities are classified into:

  • Child being cared for in a home by a relative
  • Child being cared for in a home by a non-relative
  • Child being cared for out of a home by a relative
  • Child being cared for out of a home by a non-relative

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,