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California family child care licensing: An overview

Dreaming of opening up your own in-home preschool or child care but not sure where to start? Chances are, you will need a license to operate your child care or school and each state has its own licensing process to become an in-home child care provider.


The California Community Care Licensing Department (CCLD) is the regulatory body that oversees the licensing process for home-based Family Child Care (FCC). You will need a license to operate your in-home preschool unless you are:

  • Only caring for up to 3 children from one other family besides your own;
  • In a non-payment based exchange arrangement caring for up to 12 children; or
  • Related to the children under your care.

Just to repeat that in the inverse: you need a license if you care for children from more than one family and who are not related to you.

The family child care licensing process is in place to ensure that people who care for children in their homes have passed a criminal record background check, have the appropriate state-required health immunizations, and have received CPR, first aid, and preventive health training, and that their home is safe for young children in case of fire or other emergencies.

If you live in California, we’ve put together a blog post series on everything you need to know about getting licensed:

 In California, there are two types of licenses for Family Child Care: Small Family Child Care Home and Large Family Child Care Home. Learn more about the Types of Licenses here.

To apply for a license, you’ll have to go through an orientation. The application will then require certain inspections, trainings, and safety regulations. Read more about the in-depth Licensing Process here.

To be eligible for a license, you must be at least of a certain age, have a certain number of years of experience depending on the type of license, pass a background check, and more. Read more about License Eligibility here.

There are certain training requirements you will have to meet before you receive the initial license and beyond whether you want to become a provider, assistant, or substitute. To learn more about Training Requirements for Licensing, click here.

Lastly, your home will have to meet certain requirements for you to receive a child care license in the State of California. These requirements include fire protection requirements and a written disaster plan as well as adequate indoor and outdoor space. Learn more about the Home Requirements for Licensing.


Wonderschool is a network of quality in-home early childhood programs. Our mission is to ensure that every child has access to a home away from home that helps them realize their full potential. We work with experienced educators and child care providers to help them start their own child care or preschool out of their homes, whether they live in apartments, condos, or homes that they rent or own.