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California family child care licensing: Home requirements

This post is a part of our series on California family child care licensing. For more on licensing in California, see the following posts:

California Family Child Care Licensing: An Overview
Types of Licenses
The Licensing Process
Training Requirements


What types of homes can qualify for a Family Child Care Home? 

You can run a small licensed FCC in almost any type of home including an apartment, condo, or single-family home. However, we do recommend that you have at least 35 square feet of space per child in your home and outdoor space available (either a large backyard or proximity to a park, ideally within 4 blocks) if you’re registering for a small license.

Large Family Child Care Home
To qualify for a large license:

  • Your home must pass a fire safety clearance from a fire marshal;
  • You must employ an assistant of at least 14 years old at all times when more than 6 children are in your care;
  • You must have at least one year of experience operating under a small licensed FCC or teaching in a child care center. You can prove you have this experience with letters of reference on company letterhead or a resume with the contact information of people who can verify your experience. Each region is a little bit different and it will be explained in your family child care licensing orientation;
  • And lastly, you might have to obtain a business license and zoning permit if your city or county requires it (to find out if they do, check your city and county websites for more information);

In both cases, small and large, you must pass a home inspection from the California Community Care Licensing Department. This inspection is called the pre-licensing inspection. During the inspection, an analyst from CCLD will be evaluating whether your home has been child-proofed, that you have the appropriate safety precautions in place (fire alarm, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher), and that you have materials and equipment available for children (age-appropriate toys, cots or cribs, child toilet or changing table, etc.). You can use this self-assessment guide to make sure you are prepared for the inspection.

Determine If Your Home Qualifies for a Large License

For your home to qualify for a large license, it must be in a building with three detached sides and two separate exits to the street. The second exit (meaning the one besides the front door) cannot go through the kitchen (or near a stove). It also cannot go through the garage.

Usually in a multi-story home, the school must be on the first “usable/livable” floor. If someone lives below the floor that is intended for the FCC, there must be a sprinkler system on that floor. A sprinkler system is essentially cost prohibitive so you rarely see this installed.

Single family homes can generally qualify for a large license since they often have a front entry, a back entry to a backyard, and then a gate exit from the backyard to the street. Homes that are on the first floor of an apartment building that have a backyard and then a breezeway to the street may also qualify.

The final determination as to whether your home qualifies for a large license or not will depend on the fire marshal’s inspection. And unfortunately, we have seen that opinion/personal interpretation can play a big role in the decision-making process here.

This can be frustrating if you’re planning on moving to a new home with the intention of turning it into a family child care and you want to know before you move. The good news is you may be able to get a pre-inspection from the fire department. We’ve only seen pre-inspections available in the Bay Area so far, but we hope to see this service expand in the future as more and more teachers start their own in-home preschools.

What are requirements for the home?

Licensee’s Presence
The licensee shall be present in the home and shall ensure that children in care are supervised at all times. When circumstances require the licensee to be temporarily absent from the home, the licensee shall arrange for a substitute adult to care for and supervise the children during his/her absence. Temporary absences shall not exceed 20 percent of the hours that the facility is providing care per day.

Cleanliness, Heating & Ventilation
The home shall be kept clean and orderly, with heating and ventilation for safety and comfort.

The home shall maintain telephone service.

Safe Toys and Equipment
The home shall provide safe toys, play equipment and materials.

Child Illness
When a child shows signs of illness he/she shall be separated from other children and the nature of the illness determined. If it is a communicable disease he/she shall be separated from other children until the infectious stage is over.

If food is brought from the children’s homes, the container shall be labeled with the child’s name and properly stored or refrigerated.

Smoking Prohibition
The smoking of tobacco in a private residence that is licensed as a family child care home shall be prohibited during the hours of operation as a family day care home and in those areas of the family day care home where children are present.

Safety Precautions
The home shall be free from defects or conditions which might endanger a child. Safety precautions shall include but not be limited to:

  • Fireplaces and open-face heaters shall be screened to prevent access by children. The home shall contain a fire extinguisher and smoke detector device which meet standards established by the State Fire Marshal.
  • Gas heaters shall be properly vented and permanently installed.
  • Stairs: Where children less than five years old are in care, stairs shall be fenced or barricaded.
  • Poisons, detergents, cleaning compounds, medicines, firearms and other items which could pose a danger if readily available to children shall be stored where they are inaccessible to children:
    • Storage areas for poisons, firearms and other dangerous weapons shall be locked.
    • In lieu of locked storage of firearms, the licensee may use trigger locks or remove the firing pin. Firing pins shall be stored and locked separately from firearms.
    • Ammunition shall be stored and locked separately from firearms.
  • Pools: All licensees shall ensure the inaccessibility of pools (in-ground and above-ground), fixed-in-place wading pools, hot tubs, spas, fish ponds and similar bodies of water through a pool cover or by surrounding the pool with a fence.
    • Fences shall be at least five feet high and shall be constructed so that the fence does not obscure the pool from view. Additionally, gates shall swing away from the pool, self-close and have a self-latching device located no more than six inches from the top of the gate. Pool covers shall be strong enough to completely support the weight of an adult and shall be placed on the pool and locked while the pool is not in use.
    • Where an above-ground pool structure is used as the fence or where the fence is mounted on top of the pool structure, the pool shall be made inaccessible when not in use by removing or making the ladder inaccessible or erecting a barricade to prevent access to decking. If a barricade is used, the barricade shall meet the the fences requirements mentioned above.
  • Outdoor play areas: Outdoor play areas shall be either fenced, or outdoor play areas shall be supervised by the licensee or care giver.
    • Outdoor play areas shall not include any area made inaccessible by fencing.
    • Where natural or man-made hazards such as canals, cliffs, condemned buildings, creeks, ditches, lakes, ocean fronts, mines, power lines, quarries, rivers, ravines, swamps, watercourses, and areas subject to flooding lie on or adjacent to the facility premises, the outdoor play area shall be inaccessible to such hazards.
    • Where a fence or wall is used to make the outdoor play area inaccessible, the fencing requirements mentioned above shall be met.
  • Emergency information card: An emergency information card shall be maintained for each child and shall include the child’s full name, telephone number and location of a parent or other responsible adult to be contacted in an emergency, the name and telephone number of the child’s physician and the parent’s authorization for the licensee or registrant to consent to emergency medical care.
  • Roster of children: Each child day care facility shall maintain a current roster of children who are provided care in the facility. The roster shall include the name, address, and daytime telephone number of the child’s parent or guardian, and the name and telephone number of the child’s physician. This roster shall be available to the licensing agency upon request.
  • Written disaster plan: Each family child care home shall have a written disaster plan of action prepared on a form approved by the Department. All children, age and ability permitting, and the provider, the assistant provider, and other members of the household, shall be instructed in their duties under the disaster plan. As their age and ability permit, newly enrolled children shall be informed promptly of their duties as required in the plan.
    • Drills: Each family child care home shall conduct fire drills and disaster drills at least once every six months. The licensee shall document the drills, including the date and time of each drill. This documentation shall be kept at the family child care home.
  • Baby walker: A baby walker shall not be allowed on the premises of a family child care home in accordance with Health and Safety Code


  • Only drivers licensed for the type of vehicle to be operated shall be permitted to transport children in care.
  • The manufacturer’s rated seating capacity of the vehicle shall not be exceeded.
  • Motor vehicles used to transport children in care shall be maintained in safe operating condition.
  • All vehicle occupants must be secured in an appropriate restraint system. Children shall not be left in parked vehicles.
  • When transporting infants in any motor vehicle, the licensee shall secure the infants in a car seat, designed for infants, which is secured in the vehicle in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Liability Insurance, a Bond, or Affidavits
The licensee or registrant shall maintain one of the following:

  • Liability insurance: Liability insurance kept in force covering injury to clients and guests in the amount of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) per occurrence and three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) in the total annual aggregate, sustained on account of the negligence of the licensee or its employees.
  • Bond: A bond in the aggregate amount of three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000).
  • Affidavits: A file of affidavits signed by each parent with a child enrolled in the home. The affidavit shall state that the parent has been informed that the family child care home does not carry liability insurance or a bond according to standards established by the state.
    • If the provider does not own the premises used as the family child care home, the affidavit shall also state that the parent has been informed that the liability insurance, if any, of the owner of the property or the homeowners’ association, as appropriate, may not provide coverage for losses arising out of, or in connection with, the operation of the family child care home, except to the extent that the losses are caused by, or result from, an act or omission by the owner of the property or the homeowners’ association, for which the owner of the property or the homeowners’ association would otherwise be liable under the law.
    • These affidavits shall be on a form provided by the Department and shall be reviewed at each licensing inspection.
    • Note: “homeowners’ association” is an association of a common interest development.

Liability Insurance or a Bond
A family child care home that maintains liability insurance or a bond, and that provides care in premises that are rented or leased or uses premises which share common space governed by a homeowners’ association, shall name the owner of the property or the homeowners’ association, as appropriate, as an additional insured party on the liability insurance policy or bond if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The owner of the property or governing body of the homeowners’ association makes a written request to be added as an additional insured party.
  • The addition of the owner of the property or the homeowners’ association does not result in cancellation or non-renewal of the insurance policy or bond carried by the family day care home.
  • Any additional premium assessed for this coverage is paid by the owner of the property or the homeowners’ association.

Proof of Control of Property at the Family Child Care Home
The licensee shall maintain documentation of proof of control of property at the Family Child Care Home for review by the Department. If the licensee owns or is buying the home, “proof of control of property” is a copy of the property deed, the property tax statement, or a payment coupon from the mortgage company or bank. If the licensee is operating on rented or leased property, “proof of control of property” is a copy of the rental agreement or lease.

Rental Property
A prospective Family Child Care Home licensee who resides in a rental property shall provide 30 days written notice of intent to operate a Family Child Care Home to the landlord or owner of the rental property prior to the commencement of operation of the Family Child Care Home. The licensee shall maintain proof of this notification at the Family Child Care Home for review by the Department. The licensee shall provide the landlord or owner of the rental property with a completed LIC 9151 Property Owner/Landlord Notification, which is incorporated by reference, for this purpose and maintain a copy of the completed form at the Family Child Care Home for review by the Department.

Increasing capacity: A licensee who operates on rented or leased property, and who wishes to increase the capacity of the Family Child Care Home shall obtain the written consent of the property owner/landlord to increase the home’s capacity to eight or 14 children. The licensee shall maintain the original of the completed and signed LIC 9149 Property Owner/Landlord Consent, which is incorporated by reference, attached to the Family Child Care Home’s license on file in the home.

Notice of Employee Rights
A signed and dated copy of LIC 9052 (4/88), Notice of Employee Rights, shall be maintained in the employee’s personnel record.

Alterations to Existing Building or Grounds
Prior to making alterations or additions to a family child care home or grounds, the licensee shall notify the Department of the proposed changes, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Conversion of a garage (either attached or detached) into a “child care” room.
  • Room additions to the family child care home.
  • Installation of in-ground or above-ground swimming pools, spas, fish ponds, decorative water feature, fountains or other bodies of water.
  • Construction of exterior decks or porches.
  • Construction of play equipment including swing sets/climbing structures.
  • Any change from an area of the family child care home previously identified as “off limits” to an area where care and supervision will be provided to children in care.

The licensee shall provide the Department with a copy of an inspection report when an inspection is required by the local building inspector as a result of the alteration, addition or construction.

Prior to admission to a family day care home, children shall be immunized against diseases as required by the California Code of Regulations as summarized below. Parents must show their child’s Immunization Record as proof of immunization.

Age When Enrolling in the Family Child Care Immunizations (shots) Required
2 – 3 months 1 each of Polio, DTaP, Hib, Hep B
4 – 5 months 2 each of Polio, DTaP, Hib, Hep B
6 – 14 months 3 each of DTaP
2 each of Polio, Hib, Hep B
15 – 17 months 3 each of Polio, DTaP
2 Hep B
1 MMR on or after the 1st birthday
1 Hib on or after the 1st birthday
18 months – 5 years 3 Polio
4 DTaP
3 Hep B
1 MMR on or after the 1st birthday
1 Hibb on or after the 1st birthday**
1 Varicella

**Required only for children less than 4 years 6 months

DTaP = Diphtheria,Tetanus, and Pertussis
Hib = Haemophilus Influenzae type B
Hep B = Hepatitis B
MMR = MeaslesMumpsRubella
Varicella = Chickenpox

You may admit a child who lacks documentation of having received all the required shots and who does not have a permanent medical exemption or personal beliefs exemption to immunization if he or she has not received all the shots required for his or her age group and he or she has started receiving doses of all required vaccines as follows:

When Next Shots Are Due

Polio #2 2 months after first dose
Polio #3 2-12 months after 2nd dose
DTP #2 and #3 2 months after previous dose
Hib #2 2 months after first dose
DTP #4 6-12 months after previous dose
Hep B #2 1-2 months after first dose
Hep B #3 Under age 18 months: 2-12 months after 2nd dose.
Age 18 months and older: 2-6 months after 2nd dose.

Immunization Exemption
The licensee shall be permitted to exempt a child from this requirement provided that one of the following requirements is met and the documentation is kept in the child’s file:

  • A physician provides a written statement that an immunization(s) should not be given to the child and specifies how long this exemption is expected to be needed.
  • The parents or guardians sign and date the back of the California School Immunization Record, PM 286 (6/95), which is also used for family day care homes, under the “Personal Beliefs Affidavit.”

A child who does not meet any of the requirements mentioned above shall not be admitted to a family day care home. The licensee shall document each child’s immunizations and shall maintain such documentation for as long as the child is enrolled. This requirement includes updating each child’s PM 286 (6/95) when the child is due to receive required immunizations after enrollment in the family day care home.

Is there a checklist available to determine if a house passes licensing inspection?

You can use this self-assessment guide and the Pre-Licensing Readiness Guide – Family Child Care Home to make sure you are prepared for the inspection.

Sources: California Department of Social Services (CDSS)Title 22: Family Child Care HomesPre-Licensing Readiness Guide – Family Child Care Homeself-assessment guideNational Vaccine Information


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.