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6 Steps to Becoming a Child Care Provider

Being a child care provider can be a fulfilling career path that can allow you to be your own boss while connecting with families in your area. In fact, for someone who loves kids, being a child care provider may not even feel like a job at all. Yet, if you are looking to start an in-home daycare, you may be unsure what steps you need to take, or what regulations you need to follow, in order to establish a legal at-home daycare service in your area. To help get you started on this exciting career path, here is a look at 6 steps that you can take to become a child care provider.


Obtain a High School Diploma or Higher Education

In general, it is usually required that a child care provider has at least a high school diploma or GED. However, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can be helpful, particularly for those looking to run their own daycare. There are many early childhood development and education programs at both the associate and bachelor level that can help prepare you to be a child care provider. It may also be helpful for you to take business or management courses that can give you insight on how to successfully run your new daycare service. If you are looking for a short-term alternative to a college degree, you could also consider completing a child care management certificate program. These programs are designed to help individuals learn the responsibilities of running a daycare, and they can help prepare you to meet state requirements.

Research Your State’s Licensing Requirements

As you look to start the process of establishing your home daycare business, you will need to take some time to research the licensing requirements in your state. Regardless of where you live, you will likely have to obtain a license in order to become a child care provider, but the process of obtaining a license can vary greatly from state to state. Furthermore, the type of license you need to obtain may depend on the number of children you anticipate caring for.

Most states have at least two options for in-home child care licenses depending on the number of children you will be looking after. There’s usually a “small” license and a “large” license, with the large license allowing you to serve more children. For instance, in California, a large license will allow you to care for up to 14 children. You will then need to take some time to decide what type of license will best suit your business. When starting the licensing process, it can be helpful to contact your state’s licensing agency (usually the department of health and social services or the department of child services) to find out about the process of applying for a child care provider license in your state.

Begin The Application Process

Once you have researched the appropriate procedure for obtaining a child care license in your state, you will then want to begin the application process. Make sure to take your time when filling out any paperwork and double-check everything for mistakes, as you do not want a minor error to derail your application. As part of the application process, it is likely that you will have to pay a fee and attend an orientation as well.

The child care provider, and any other adults living in their home, will also have to submit to fingerprinting, a background check, and a Tuberculosis (TB) test for safety and security purposes. Make sure that you keep a schedule of everything that you need to complete as part of the licensing process so that you do not accidentally miss any deadlines. If you have a caseworker assigned to your license application, make sure that you check in with them regularly to find out where your application is at in the process, how much longer it may take, and whether or not there are any additional steps that you need to take in order to ensure everything is completed in a timely manner.

Prepare for a Home Inspection

As part of the licensing process, you will likely need to have your business/home inspected by a licensing analyst. They will be inspecting your home in order to ensure that environmental and health safety ordinances are being followed. In order to pass the inspection, you will likely need to childproof your home, repair or replace unsafe appliances, and maintain critical emergency equipment such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and telephones. You will also likely be required to fence in any swimming pools, hot tubs, or outside play areas, and your home will need to meet local fire code requirements. It can be helpful to consult your caseworker before the inspection to find out what inspectors will be looking for. This will allow you to prepare your home for the inspection, ensuring that your home passes inspection without any problems.

Complete Any Necessary Training

While you are waiting for your licensing application to be approved, you should use this downtime to complete any necessary training so that you will be ready to start your business once you have your license. For instance, many states require that child care providers attend a child first aid and CPR course and obtain certifications in these areas (and you will likely have to be re-certified on an annual basis). Even if these courses are not required by your state, you may want to consider taking these courses anyway, as they are vital skills for any child care provider to have. In fact, many parents will want to ensure that they are leaving their child with a care provider who at least has basic CPR training in order to ensure their child’s safety.

Your Final Step as a Child Care Provider: Create a Business Plan

Once your license application has been approved, you will then be able to get to work establishing and growing your daycare service. One of the first things that will want to do when opening your business is to create a business plan. Creating a business plan is an essential part of growing any business, as it allows you to create a blueprint that will give you direction as you try to establish yourself in your field. Additionally, creating a business plan will force you to make important decisions regarding how you plan to market your business, how you want to run your business, and what you want your business to look like moving forward.

While starting a career as a child care provider can seem overwhelming, you do not have to go through this process alone. By partnering with Wonderschool, you will have people by your side to help you through the process of obtaining your license, developing your website, establishing your business, and marketing your in-daycare service. Contact us to learn how Wonderschool can help you to establish your new at-home child care business.


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.