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What is a Certified Daycare?

A daycare provider (we prefer child care over daycare, by the way) supervises young children, aged two-five, and provides them with learning and play stimulation to aid their physical and mental development. A daycare provider might work from their home, other people’s homes, or a daycare facility. Following the required steps to become a certified daycare will ensure that you can provide the best environment for children.

Working with children can be stressful and tiring. However, the rewards of their development are many, especially since providers get a chance to shape their young charges and see their gains throughout their stay.


What Qualifies as a Certified Daycare?

A certified child care provider cares for children aged five and below during the day. The provider or proprietor can also care for older kids before and after school, as well as during vacations. He or she usually holds credentials like a Child Development Associate (CDA), Child Care Professional (CCP), or other state-based licenses.

A child care provider ensures the health and safety of every child under their charge. Such in-home services may require morning, evening, overnight, or unusual working shifts since providers may need to accommodate the busy schedules of parents.

Career & Skills Requirements

To become a certified daycare provider, the only universal degree level requirement is a high school diploma with at least some experience in childcare. This can vary depending on your state of residence or the setting in which you offer services. As such, a degree or certificate in early childhood education may be necessary.

If you operate from home, you will need a license from Family Child Care Homes. Child care providers also need to pass a CDA certification exam and have a CPR and first aid certification. If you work at a Head Start program, you need to be working towards getting a child developmental credential or a postsecondary degree.

Essential skills a child care provider needs include patience, people skills, excellent communication, decision-making skills, good physical stamina, as well as an ability to use educational and scheduling software. Providers also need to meet immunization requirements and pass a background check. You should also love kids and have a passion for teaching them.

Steps to Follow to Become Certified

1.  Meet the Requirements

Many states and jurisdictions require child care providers to have some formal training before their certification. In many cases, taking college courses or earning an early childhood education degree can satisfy these mandates. For instance, as of 2018, head Start programs require child care providers to have an associate’s degree. Another critical requirement is passing a background check, which is mandatory for licensure.

2.  Complete the Licensing Process

The licensing requirements vary by state for in-home child care. However, the necessary application process usually depends on the type and size of the program. The licensing process involves submitting registration forms, paying a fee, attending orientation, and passing a home inspection.

During a home inspection, licensing agents must ensure that providers meet all the state requirements for cleanliness and safety. Hence the state may require providers to childproof the home or care center as well as replace or repair unsafe appliances and maintain essential emergency equipment.

Most states also require family child care providers and their employees to have CPR training and first aid certification.

3.  Obtain Certification

The Child Development Associate license bases its credentials on a work observation criteria in one of three settings: family care, home visitor, and center-based. A CDA eligibility assessment requires candidates to accumulate 120 hours of formal education in child care and 480 hours of working experience with kids within the past five years.

The application process consists of the following:

Gathering testimonials from parents
Observation by a council representative
Passing a two-hour multiple-choice examination

The CDA is a nationally-recognized credential within the field of early childhood education, so earning it increases a provider’s career advancement prospects.

It is essential to keep all your certification current because CDA credentials are only valid for three years. CDA renewal criteria include:

  • Documenting work experience
  • Having a Pediatric First Aid Certificate
  • Joining a professional organization
  • Obtaining a letter of recommendation
  • Earning continuing education credits

Some states recognize the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation, which the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation offers. Its requirements are a high school diploma, a satisfactory score on their exam, and experience in child care.

4.  Director Position

Child care providers with significant experience can advance to positions of supervisors or directors in child care facilities.

Benefits of Being a Certified Child Care Provider

Following your state’s regulations for child care offers professional, monetary, and business-related advantages. It’s also an assurance that you adequately meet the developmental and safety needs of the children in your care. Since regulations for child care providers differ across states, not all certified providers can access state-sponsored professional development.

Even so, the advantages to providers are similar. These include:

  • Legal operation. Centers that operate without certification or a license are subject to penalties or closure.
  • Credentials allow you to establish yourself as an experienced professional and build an image that attracts clients and partners to your business.
  • Food program benefits. Certified and approved daycare providers receive a food reimbursement program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also, providers can access child nutrition training through the government’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • State-certified providers may access free state-sponsored training programs
  • There are some tax advantages attached to being certified. Although all providers can claim certain expenses like supplies, food, and toys on their taxes, only certified ones can deduct expenses that are related to using their homes.

What Wonderschool Offers Daycare Program Directors & Teachers

Wonderschool offers child care directors and teachers help and resources related to the quality and safety of their programs by ensuring they are:

  • Child-centered
  • Growth-minded
  • Safety-focused

Wonderschool offers ongoing training and numerous professional development opportunities to help its in-home child care providers learn and grow as educators and caregivers. We also provide:

  • Weekly and monthly webinars on relevant topics for early care professionals
  • Literacy workshops
  • STEM training
  • Anti-bias resources
  • A series on challenging behavior
  • Refresher training
  • Tax preparation 101 for business owners
  • School readiness

Wonderschool partners with local ECE organizations in all its areas of operations to provide its providers with enhanced quality support and fantastic local networking opportunities.

Reach out to us and we will help you get started.


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.