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Maryland family child care licensing: Home requirements

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

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


Family child care home means a residence in which family child care is provided. To open a Family Child Care Home in Maryland your home will have to meet certain requirements. The Office of Child Care (OCC) will inspect your home before you can become licensed. The requirements differ slightly depending on if you are starting a Family Child Care Home or a Large Family Child Care Home.

What are requirements for the home?


The home shall:

  • Comply with all applicable State and local fire, zoning, health, safety, and environmental codes;
  • Be in good repair;
  • Be free of health or safety hazards, including infestation by insects and rodents;
  • Have operable and safe utility services for lighting, heating, and cooking;
  • Have hot and cold running water, with a hot water temperature that does not exceed 120°;
  • Have a toilet in good working condition that is readily accessible to children in care;
  • Have an operable refrigerator and stove;
  • Have an operable telephone.


  • A provider may not use paint with lead content on any:
    • Exterior or interior surface of the home; or
    • Material or equipment used for child care purposes.
  • If the child care home is a residential rental property constructed before 1950, which is an affected property as defined in Environment Article, §6-801(b), Annotated Code of Maryland, the provider shall submit a copy of the current lead risk reduction or lead-free certificate.
  • If the child care home was constructed before 1978 and not certified lead-free under Environment Article, §6-804(a)(2)(i), Annotated Code of Maryland, the provider shall:
    • Ensure there is no chipping, peeling, flaking, chalking, or deteriorated paint on any surface of an interior or exterior area of the home that is used for child care;
    • If deterioration of a surface in an area used for child care is noted, or if renovation of the premises occurs that disturbs a painted surface, arrange to have a lead-dust test:
      • Conducted by an accredited visual inspector to meet the risk reduction standard, if the home is an affected property; or
      • Conducted in areas used for child care by an accredited risk assessor, if the home is not an affected property; and
    • If a lead-dust test is required, obtain:
      • A passing score on that test; and
      • Verification from the lead inspector performing the test that the requirements have been met.
    • In a home constructed before 1978 that is not certified lead-free under Environment Article, §6-804(a)(2)(i), Annotated Code of Maryland, when performing a renovation that disturbs the painted surface of an interior or exterior area used for child care, the provider shall ensure that the work is performed by an individual accredited to perform the lead paint abatement services using safe work practices as required by Environment Article, Title 6, Subtitle 10, Annotated Code of Maryland, and corresponding regulations.


  • Maintain cleanliness: All areas of the home, including food preparation, service, and storage areas shall be maintained in a state of cleanliness so as not to endanger the children’s health. Cleaning may not be conducted while children are present except in emergencies or as cleanup activities that are part of the daily child care program.
  • Within reach of children: Paper towels, a trash receptacle, soap, and toilet paper shall be placed within reach of a child capable of using the toilet without assistance.
  • Disposal of refuse: Trash, garbage, and wet or soiled diapers shall be disposed of in a clean and sanitary manner.
    • Each room used for child care shall have a trash container with a disposable liner.
    • In each area used for changing diapers, there shall be a separate trash container reserved for diaper discards that:
      • Has a disposable liner and tightly fitting lid; and
      • Makes the contents of the container inaccessible to children in care.
    • All trash containers in child care areas shall be emptied when full but at least daily.
    • Refuse that is placed outdoors to await collection shall be stored in receptacles that are:
      • Made of tight, nonabsorbent, easily washable materials;
      • Covered with tightly fitting lids; and
      • Washed and treated with disinfectant when necessary to combat odors and prevent infestation.
    • Handwashing: After toileting and diapering, before food preparation and eating, after playing outdoors, after handling animals, and at other times when necessary to prevent the spread of disease, the provider or substitute shall:
      • Wash the provider’s or substitute’s hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water;
      • Ensure that a child’s hands are washed thoroughly, by the provider or by the child, with soap and warm running water.
    • Diapering: To assist in preventing the spread of disease, the provider or substitute shall:
      • Promptly change a child’s diaper, clothing, and bedding when soiled or wet;
      • Follow diapering procedures designed to prevent the transmission of disease, which are established and supplied by the office; and
      • Maintain the surface used for diapering in a clean and sanitary manner.
    • Portable toilets: If used, portable toilets, also known as potty-chairs, shall be:
      • Placed on a nonabsorbent surface or mat;
      • Located away from food preparation, food service, and eating areas; and
      • Cleaned and sanitized after each use in accordance with procedures established by the office.


  • The provider may use an area of the home for child care only if it:
    • Approved space: Has been approved for use by the office;
    • Fire codes: Meets the requirements of all applicable fire codes;
    • Risk-free space: Does not have a condition that may pose a risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the children in care;
    • Lighting: Has windows or artificial lighting that provides sufficient illumination for a child’s activities;
    • Sufficient floor area: Has sufficient floor area for the number and ages of the children approved for care in the home to allow the children to engage in active play without overcrowding; and
  • In rooms where a child younger than 5 years old is in care, the provider shall arrange the home so that:
    • Electrical sockets: All electrical sockets within reach of a child are plugged or capped;
    • Protective barriers: Suitable protective barriers are placed at locations accessible and potentially hazardous to children;
    • Hazardous devices: Child-proof devices are placed on cabinets and drawers that contain items potentially hazardous to children.
  • Window Coverings: A window covering installed before October 1, 2010, shall not have unsecured cords, beads, ropes, or strings that are accessible to a child in care; or on or after October 1, 2010, shall be cordless.
  • Designated space for mothers: In a home approved to provide care for infants or toddlers, the provider shall designate space for mothers to breastfeed or express breast milk that:
    • Is not located in a bathroom;
    • Has access to an electrical outlet;
    • Has appropriate seating;
    • Has access to running water; and
    • Accommodates a mother’s need for privacy.


  • Adequate supplies: The home shall have clean linen and adequate furnishings for rest periods that are comfortable, durable, safe, and appropriate for the ages of the children in care.
  • Resting place: Each child shall have an individual place to rest that is not used by any other child or resident unless the linens are changed between users.
  • Furnish: The provider shall furnish for each child approved for care in the home who is:
    • Younger than 12 months old, a crib, portable crib, or playpen; or
    • At least 12 months old and younger than 5 years old, a bed, cot, mat, or sleeping bag
  • Parent’s request: Upon request by the child’s parent, the provider shall furnish a crib, portable crib, or playpen as the resting place of a child who is at least 12 months old and younger than 2 years old.
  • Compliance with the standards of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Each crib, portable crib, and playpen that is used for child care shall meet the standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.


A room may be used for child care only if it has:

  • natural or mechanical ventilation that provides an adequate exchange of air to protect a child’s health and comfort;
  • Is free of moisture and dampness; and
  • Has a temperature at floor level of not less than 65°F.


  • There shall be ample, accessible space for the outdoor activity that is free from conditions that may be dangerous to the health or safety of children in care.
  • If required by the office, the outdoor activity area shall be enclosed to protect children in care from accessible hazards such as a heavily trafficked area, a body of water, or environmental hazards.


Emergency Plan

  • The provider or a staff member shall complete emergency preparedness training that is approved by the office and as part of the approved emergency preparedness training, prepare a written emergency and disaster plan for the child care home.
  • The emergency and disaster plan shall establish procedures for:
    • Evacuating the child care home, including an evacuation route;
    • Relocating staff and children to a designated safe site;
    • Sheltering in place in the event that evacuation is not feasible;
    • Notifying parents of children in care; and
    • Addressing the individual needs of children, including children with special needs;
  • Contain:
    • The name of, and contact information for the local emergency operations center;
    • Assignment of staff responsibilities during an emergency or disaster;
    • A list of local emergency services numbers; and
    • The radio station call sign and frequency for the local Emergency Alert System;
  • Be practiced by staff and children at least:
    • Once per month for fire evacuation; and
    • Twice per year for other emergency and disaster situations; and
    • Be updated at least annually.
  • A copy of the emergency escape route floor plan shall be posted in each area and room in the child care home.
  • Each staff member shall be oriented to the contents of the written emergency and disaster plan. In the event of a declared emergency, the provider shall be prepared to respond as directed by the local emergency management agency through sources of public information.
  • During an emergency evacuation or practice, a staff member shall take attendance records out of the child care home and determine the presence of each child currently in attendance.
  • A provider shall post, immediately accessible to each telephone in the child care home, a notice stating the:
    • 9-1-1 emergency telephone number to summon fire, police, and rescue services;
    • Child care home’s name, address, and telephone number;
    • Telephone number of the protective services unit of the local department of social services;
    • Telephone number of a poison control center;
    • Name and telephone number of the local health department or a physician to consult about issues regarding health and illnesses;
    • Name and telephone number of the available adult and
    • The telephone number of the office.

Additional Requirements for Large Family Child Care Home


The provider shall ensure that an access road on the child care home property permits passage by emergency vehicles during times when children are in care.


  • Family living area: The space used for child care purposes may include space within the family living area of the residence.
  • Minimum square feet requirement: A minimum of 35 square feet of floor space shall be provided for each child in care, except that a minimum of 30 square feet of floor space shall be provided for each child in a large family child care home that was licensed as a small center before December 1, 1971.
  • Less square footage per child: A child care home currently approved by the office to operate with less square footage per child than required may continue to operate with that reduced square footage as long as the:
    • Provider demonstrates to the satisfaction of the office the impossibility of complying with the minimum square footage while maintaining the economic viability of the program; and
    • Office determines that the reduced square footage does not threaten the health, safety, or welfare of any child in care.
  • Calculation of the square footage of floor space provided for each child:
    • May include furniture and equipment routinely used for child care purposes, such as but not limited to infant high chairs, diapering stations, tables and chairs used for program activities, and open shelves for storage of items belonging to children in care or related to program activities; and
    • May not include any floor space, rooms, or areas within the area approved for child care that are not suitable or available for the daily program activities of the children, such as but not limited to columns, vestibules, corridors, and equipment or storage space reserved for used by a resident.


Maintenance, repair, or renovation activity performed at a child care home may not occur while a child in care is on the premises if the activity may present a significant risk to child safety or health.


  • Water temperature: The child care home shall have hot and cold running water, with hot water temperature not exceeding 120°F.
  • Drinking water source: There shall be at least one drinking water source that is:
    • Safely accessible to children 2 years old or older without assistance from an adult; and
    • Not located in a toilet room or in a sink used for hand washing.
  • Approved drinking water source: Drinking water shall be supplied by a source approved by the office.
  • Meals and snacks: During meals and snacks, water may be served family-style from a pitcher if the water is poured into the pitcher directly from the source approved by the office.


  • The provider shall provide one toilet and one sink that are:
    • Maintained in good operating condition and in a sanitary manner;
    • Easily accessible to the children; and
    • Equipped with water-resistant, nonabsorbent platforms which are safely constructed at a height that allows children to use the toilet and sink unassisted.
  • For each group of children younger than 2 years old in a room, there shall be an approved diapering area with a sink that:
    • Is used only for diapering and toileting purposes; and
    • Permits continuous observation of, and immediate response to, each child in the group.
  • Each toilet room shall have:
    • A floor with a water-resistant, nonabsorbent finish;
    • Smoothly finished walls with a hard surface; and
    • Approved and functioning natural or mechanical ventilation.
  • Portable toilets, also known as potty-chairs, may not be used
  • Each toilet room shall contain individual paper towels, a trash receptacle, soap, and toilet paper.
  • All sanitary supplies in a toilet room shall be available within reach of a child capable of using the toilet unassisted.
  • Toiletry and grooming articles, drinking cups, towels, face cloths, brushes, and combs may not be shared.


  • There shall be sufficient natural and artificial lighting in all approved child care areas of the home to allow children to engage in activities safely, allow proper child supervision, and help ensure the safety of each child, employee, and visitor to the home.
  • A provider shall use light fixtures with bulbs, lamps, and tubes that are shatter-proof or protected by shields to prevent shattering.
  • In a room approved for child care that does not have windows, a provider shall provide an approved source of lighting that will operate in case of a power failure.
  • A provider shall provide adequate outdoor lighting to ensure the safety of persons entering and leaving the child care home when it is dark outside.


  • There shall be at least one operable telephone in the child care home that is freely and readily available to all staff members during the approved hours of operation.
  • In a child care home with more than two rooms approved for child care, a staff member supervising a group of children in one room shall be able to communicate a request for assistance to a staff member in another room while maintaining continuous supervision of the group.
  • On each level of the child care home where care is provided to children younger than 2 years old, there shall be an operable telephone.
  • The provider shall provide additional telephones or extensions in the child care home as may be required to:
    • Summon emergency fire and rescue services promptly; and
    • Transmit and receive other emergency communications.


  • A child care home shall have an outdoor activity area on the premises of, adjacent to, or near and safely accessible to the home that provides adequate usable play space for the approved capacity of the home.
  • Usable Outdoor Play Space
    • A child care home shall have an outdoor activity area that provides at least 75 square feet of usable play space for each child.
    • A child care home that was originally licensed as a small center, and for which a notice of intent was filed as part of an application for a child care center license was received by the office before January 1, 2009, shall have an outdoor activity area that provides ample usable play space for all of the children in attendance.
  • Usable play space may include only the area and the activity equipment approved for use by children in care.
  • The activity area shall be free from potential hazards to child health or safety.
  • All outdoor activity equipment shall be safe, in good repair, clean, and non-toxic.
  • If required by the office, the outdoor activity area shall be enclosed to protect children in care from accessible hazards such as a heavily trafficked area, a body of water, or environmental hazards.
  • A child may not be allowed to:
    • play on climbing equipment from which the child can fall 7 feet or more to the ground;
    • Use unsafe activity equipment;
    • Use activity equipment in an unsafe manner; or
    • Wear a clothing item or accessory that may pose a hazard to the child while engaged in the activity.
  • The provider shall ensure that children use suitable protective gear when engaged in an activity for which protective gear is required by law.


  • A provider or substitute may permit children in care to use only swimming facilities that:
    • Are subject to State or local standards of health, sanitation, and safety; and
    • Meet those standards.
  • An above-ground swimming pool:
    • May not be used for swimming activities; and
    • Shall be made inaccessible to children in care.
  • A child in care may not use a pool, such as a fill-and-drain molded plastic or inflatable pool, that does not have an operable circulation system approved by the local health department.

Sources: Subtitle 15 Family Child Care, Subtitle 18 Large Family Child Care Homes


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.