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California family child care licensing: Types of licenses

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
The Licensing Process
Training Requirements
Home Requirements

High level characteristics of Family Child Care Homes in California:

  • Care must be provided in the licensee’s own home
  • Licensee must live in the home
  • Care provided is less than 24 hours


As you start your in-home child care program in California, you will have the option to choose between two types of programs: Small Family Child Care Home and Large Family Child Care Home. Small and large licenses differ in how many children you can care for in your home.

The capacity specified on the license shall be the maximum number of children for whom care may be provided at any one time.

Small Family Child Care Home

Small Family Child Care Homes provide care to no more than 8 children. You can supervise 4 infants (where infants are defined as children under 24 months old); or up to 6 children if no more than 3 of them are infants; or 8 children if no more than 2 are infants and at least 2 of them are at least six years old. That’s a mouthful but all in all, you max out at 8 children in your school, including your own children if they are under 10 years old.

Large Family Child Care Home

Large Family Child Care Homes provide care to no more than 14 children. You can supervise up to 12 children if no more than 4 are infants; or 14 children if no more than 3 are infants and at least 2 children are six years old. Here you max out at 14 children in your Large Family Child Care Home, again including your own children if they are under 10 years old – a sizeable increase in capacity from the small license.

Large Family Child Care Homes require a fire clearance from the local fire authority.

Do note that in both large and small licensed FCCs, your own children will be included in the count if they are under 10 years old.

Comparing the Small vs Large License for Family Child Care

Getting a large license can be both more complicated and more time consuming than getting a small license. We normally recommend people start by applying for a small license and then apply for a larger license later.

However, the type of license you get must comply with the number of children who can be in your care. Read our guide here to learn more about the difference between small and large licenses for Family Child Care.

In the end, you should choose the preschool license that works best for you and your family. It’s true that you can offset startup costs and take home more money with the large license. But of course that’s not everyone’s goal.

If you have any questions at all, shoot us an email at [email protected].

SourcesCDSS Capacity Requirements Family Child Care HomeTitle 22: Family Child Care HomesCalifornia Department of Social Services (CDSS)


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.