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Illinois family child care licensing: Home requirements

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

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


As you prepare to open your own in-home preschool or child care as a Day Care Home or Group Day Care Home, you will need to meet certain indoor and outdoor requirements. Here’s what you need to know about your home to get your license in the state of Illinois:

What types of homes can qualify for family child care?

Day Care Home and Group Day Care Home licenses are only issued in the family home of the individual(s) applying. This means that the child care must occur in the home where you and your family live—not in any other location. You may not rent or buy another home or apartment or use an unattached garage, outbuilding, etc. If you wish to use space away from where you and your family live, you must seek licensure as a daycare center.

What are the requirements for the home?

Day Care Homes and Group Day Care Homes must have the following:

  • A first-aid kit;
  • An operable fire extinguisher and a flashlight in working order;
  • Protective coverings for all electrical outlets within reach of young children;
  • At least one operating smoke detector on every floor in each room where children nap or sleep, including basements and occupied attics;
  • Partitions or sturdy barriers to prevent contact with any fixed space heater, fireplace, radiator or other heating sources in areas occupied by children;
  • Written plans for evacuation in case of emergency;
  • Fire and tornado drills must be conducted and documented monthly;
  • An operable telephone available on the premises;
  • Hot and cold running water;
  • Water temperature must be no higher than 115° F at faucets for children’s hand washing sinks.
  • The facility must be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition, free of observable hazards. Exit doors must be kept clear of equipment and debris at all times;
  • A safe and sanitary water supply shall be maintained. If a private water supply is used instead of an approved public water supply, the applicant shall supply written records of current test results indicating the water supply is safe for drinking. New test results must be provided prior to renewal of license. If nitrate content exceeds 10 parts per million, bottled water must be used for children under 15 months of age;
  • Portable space heaters may not be used during hours that child care is provided;
  • A basement may only be used for child care if the license lists the basement as an area where care can be provided. The basement must have two exits. At least one must exit directly to the outside at ground level;
  • First-aid supplies, medication, cleaning materials, poisons, tools, gardening equipment and other hazardous materials must be stored in places inaccessible to children;
  • Handguns are prohibited on the premises except in the possession of peace officers or other adults who must possess a handgun as a condition of employment and who reside in the Day Care Home;
  • Any other firearm must be kept disassembled, without ammunition, in a locked storage facility inaccessible to children. Ammunition must be kept locked in storage separate from the firearm
  • In the event that handguns and/or other firearms and ammunition are stored on the premises, parents or guardians must be notified;
  • Swimming pools located in areas accessible to children must be fenced and secured with a locked gate;
  • Healthy household pets, that present no danger to children, are permitted. Dogs and cats must be inoculated for rabies;
  • Wild and dangerous animals, as well as monkeys, ferrets, turtles, iguanas, and birds of the parrot family, must not be accessible to children during child care operation hours;
  • No person may smoke tobacco in any area of the day care home in which child care services are being provided to children while those children are present on the premises. No person may smoke tobacco while providing transportation to children receiving child care services.
  • Hot tubs must have locked covers or be inaccessible to children;
  • Free-hanging cords on blinds, shades, and drapes must be tied or kept out of reach of children.
  • Only new cribs manufactured on or after June 28, 2011, must be in place.
  • The home must have been tested for radon within the last three years. The test results must be posted in an area visible to parents;
  • A draft-free temperature of 65ºF to 75ºF shall be maintained during the winter months or heating season. For infants and toddlers, a temperature of 68ºF to 82ºF shall be maintained during the summer or air-conditioning months;
  • A facility in which a wood-burning stove or fireplace has been installed and that is used during the hours that child care is provided shall provide a written plan of how the stove or fireplace will be used and what actions will be taken to ensure the children’s safety when in use;
  • All walls and surfaces shall be maintained free from lead paint and from chipped or peeling paint.
  • Walls of rooms that children use shall be free of carpeting, fabric or plastic products. Inflammable or combustible artwork attached to the walls shall not exceed 20% of any wall area;
  • The licensee shall hold monthly fire safety inspections of the Day Care Home and maintain documentation on file for a period of 1 year;
  • There must be safe outdoor space for active play in yards, nearby parks or playgrounds.
  • Adult supervision, in accordance with the child/staff ratio requirements, must be provided at all times during indoor or outdoor activities. Children must never be left unattended.
  • The licensee shall identify those areas in the home used for child care. The identified areas minus any special use areas shall be measured to calculate the square footage available for child care. There shall be:
    • A minimum of 35 square feet of floor space for each child in care; and
    • An additional 20 square feet of floor space for each child under 30 months of age when the play area is the same as the sleep area. However, if portable bedding is used for napping, then removed, the licensing representative shall approve the use of only 35 square feet of space for each child if the applicant/licensee has adequate storage space for the bedding materials and the bedding materials are removed before and after nap time.

Additional requirements for Group Day Care Homes

In addition to the above requirements, Group Day Care Homes must also meet the following requirements:

  • Toilets: The Group Day Care Home shall provide one toilet for each 10 persons or portion thereof who are present during the hours the Group Day Care Home is in operation. These 10 persons include caregivers, child care assistants, members of the household and children other than those under 30 months of age for whom a potty chair is provided.
  • Outdoor Space
    • There shall be a minimum of 75 square feet of outdoor space per child for the total number of children using the area at any one time. At least 25% of the required space shall be on the premises of the Group Day Care Home. The remainder may be a public park, playground or another outdoor recreation area within walking distance (1000 feet) of the Group Day Care Home provided the caregiver or an adult assistant accompany children to this outdoor area.
    • A caregiver who relies upon outdoor space shared with other residents in a multiple family dwelling shall have a written agreement with the other residents or the owners of the outdoor area authorizing the use of the space by the Group Day Care Home and the children cared for.
  • A Group Day Care Home operator relying upon a cooperative or lending arrangement to meet the equipment requirements shall provide a copy of a written agreement specifying which required equipment are covered by the agreement. Further, the operator shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Department that the equipment covered by the agreement is both available and utilized by the group day care home as required.


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

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


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.