Child Care Licensing

Want to obtain a child care license? In the state of California, there are two types of child care licenses: family child care licenses for people who work in their own homes caring for children and child care center licenses for others, who wish to provide child care services in an out-of-home setting.

Family Child Care Homes
Child Care Centers
Child Care Not Required to be Licensed

Family Child Care Homes
The basic steps to getting licensed to do family child care in California are:

  1. attend an orientation meeting that the Community Care Licensing Division of the State Department of Social Services conducts
  2. complete a 15-hour course in Child Care Health & Safety (which includes CPR and first aid)
  3. complete all the forms, including fingerprint cards and TB tests for everyone over the age of eighteen who lives in the house; and
  4. have a visit from a licensing evaluator

BANANAS assists prospective family child care providers in our service area with all sorts of information about membership support associations, the Federal Food Program, insurance, workshops, classes and, of course, how to get child care referrals from us. Call 510.658.7353, e-mail or write us for more specific information on getting licensed to do family child care in Northern Alameda County.

Child Care Center Licensing
The basic steps to getting licensed as a child care center in California are:

  1. attend a series of three orientations conducted by the Community Care Licensing Division of the State Department of Social Services;
  2. complete a detailed application form and submit with other supplementary documents; and,
  3. pass inspection by a licensing evaluator.

Some of the basic licensing requirements for child care centers are:

  1. The site must have:
    • 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child
    • 75 square feet of usable outdoor space per child
    • One toilet and sink for every 15 children separate from the adult bathroom
  2. The director must have a minimum of 12 ECE units, 3 units of preschool administration, 4 years of supervised experience. (Less experience is required if the director has more educational units.)
  3. Three months operating budget must be in a bank account.
  4. Everyone on staff, including the director and the owner, must have a TB and criminal record clearance.

Depending on the city, it will also be necessary to contact other departments, such as zoning, fire, business licenses, etc. Once a site has been located (considering no renovations to the building are needed), plan on one month for every department that needs to be contacted plus three months from the time that the completed application was submitted to licensing. Plan on at least six months from beginning to opening day if everything goes smoothly.

The entity seeking a center license can be an individual, a group of people, a corporation or an institution. A center license is required to:

  • open a new center, preschool or nursery school (part or full day);
  • purchase an existing center - the license is not transferable;
  • move a program to a new site - the people in charge and the site are licensed; or
  • continue to operate a program after a change in the legal status of the licensee - for example, operating a center as an individual after the dissolution of a corporation or partnership which held the license.

BANANAS assists prospective center-based providers with information and support throughout all steps of the process, sample documents for the licensing application and referrals to support services. Call 510.658.7353, e-mail or write us to have more specific information sent on getting a child care license in Northern Alameda County.

Child Care Not Required to be Licensed
Certain types of programs can operate without a license. However, since the law governing exemptions changes, the State Department of Social Services (DSS), Community Care Licensing should be contacted (510.622.2602) with questions about the status of any proposed program. If the program fits the description of one of these exempt types of care, write the DSS office, describe the planned program and ask for written verification that the program does not need to be licensed.

Exempt programs currently (2001) include:

  • Cooperative arrangements where parents rotate responsibility and no money changes hands. The person (or persons) providing care must be related in some way to at least one child in the cooperative.
  • Extended care programs operated by public or private schools, serving at least 85% of their own students..
  • Vacation-time activities for children of an instructional nature in a class- room setting.
  • Any program which offers temporary child care services (parents must remain on the same premises and the program must not be operated at a ski facility, shopping mall or department store).
  • Public (such as city, county, or school district) recreation programs (not YMCA, Girls' Club, etc.). Schoolage or 12 weeks per year. Preschool age programs must operate during hours other than normal school hours and must be less than 16 hours per week or 12 weeks per year. Preschool age programs must be less than 12 hours per week and 12 weeks per session.
  • Schoolage parenting (SAPID) programs run by school districts for children of teen parents.
  • Adult education child care operated by a public school district.

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