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New Jersey family child care licensing: Home requirements

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

New Jersey 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, 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 New Jersey:

What types of homes can qualify for family child care?

In New Jersey “Family Child Care Home” means the private residence of the family child care provider in which child care services are provided to no fewer than three and no more than five children at any one time for no fewer than 15 hours per week, except that the New Jersey Department of Children and Families shall not exclude a family child care home with fewer than three children from voluntary registration.

In New Jersey, “Family, Friend, Neighbor” (FFN) means the private residence of the child care provider in which child care is provided to no more than two unrelated children or five children who are all siblings for less than 24 hours per day.

What are the requirements for the home?

Outdoor space

The provider shall ensure that an adequate, safe outdoor play area is available either adjacent to or within walking distance of the home.

  • Spa pools, hot tubs, and wading pools shall be inaccessible to children and their use shall be prohibited.
  • Swimming pools, and other containers and natural bodies of water : Swimming pools, and other containers and natural bodies of water at the family child care home shall be physically inaccessible to children, except when they are supervised as specified under “swimming pools supervision” below and all local ordinances that apply to a swimming pool or natural bathing area must be adhered to.
  • Swimming pools supervision : The following supervision requirements shall apply whenever enrolled children use a pool or other container or body of water at the family child care home or any other location:
    • For pools and other bodies of water that are 24 inches or more in depth:
      • One person at least 18 years old shall directly supervise up to two children;
      • Two people, one of which is at least 18 years old shall directly supervise three or more children; and
      • The provider shall maintain a ring buoy with a rope, extension pole, or other devices that can be used to rescue a swimmer in distress;
    • For pools and other containers or bodies of water that are less than 24 inches in depth, one person at least 18 years old shall directly supervise all the children. When the number of children using the pool requires a second caregiver to be present, both caregivers shall directly supervise the children; and
    • CPR certified : At least one person providing supervision shall be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Written consent : The provider shall obtain written consent from the parent(s) of each enrolled child before the child uses a pool or other body of water
  • Safety helmet : The provider shall ensure that each child riding a bicycle, using roller skates, inline skates, skateboards or who is a passenger on a bicycle, or towed by a bicycle, wears a safety helmet, as specified in the State Bicycle Helmet Law, N.J.S.A. 39:4-10.1.
  • Outdoor equipment : The provider shall ensure that outdoor equipment, such as swings, slides and climbing apparatus are installed and in keeping with the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions; and are in good repair and that:
    • Openings do not pose entrapment hazard;
    • Equipment and apparatus shall be used only by the children for whom it is developmentally appropriate; and
    • All fencing shall be maintained in good condition.
  • Garbage : All garbage and refuse will be collected, stored and disposed of in a manner, which will not attract rodents or insects.

Inside space and equipment

The provider shall ensure that:

  • Floor space : Adequate floor space is available for the children’s activities.
    • The provider shall arrange the play space and the furniture within the family child care home in order to allow adequate room for active and quiet play and for individual and group activities.
    • Program space shall not include the food preparation areas within the kitchen, bathrooms, hallways, stairways, closets, laundry rooms or areas, furnace rooms and storage spaces;
  • Temperature : The temperature of rooms used by children is maintained at a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Cleanliness : Floors, walls, ceilings, furniture, equipment and other surfaces are kept clean and in good repair;
  • Ventilation : Adequate ventilation is provided by means of open windows, fans, air conditioning or other mechanical ventilation systems;
  • Water supply : Warm and cold running water is available;
  • Toilets: Working indoor toilets are easily accessible to children;
  • Hazard free : Play equipment, materials, and furniture for indoor and outdoor use are of sturdy and safe construction, non-toxic, easy to clean, and free of hazards that may be injurious to young children.
    • Furniture, appliances, or equipment with tipping hazards, such as chests, bookshelves, and televisions are secured
    • Any hazardous equipment is made inaccessible to children or removed until rendered safe or replaced; and
    • Bathtubs, buckets, and other containers of water are emptied immediately after use;
  • Electricity : is in service in the home;
  • Sufficient furniture : The home contains sufficient furniture and equipment to accommodate the needs of the children in care;
  • Telephone : A telephone shall be in service in the home at all times when children are in care; and
  • Pesticides : Pesticides for indoor and outdoor use shall be used according to the manufacturer’s directions and in keeping with the applicable provisions specified in N.J.A.C. 7:30-10, Pesticide Control Code.
    • No pesticides shall be applied while children are present.
    • Before applying pesticides, all toys and play equipment shall be removed from the area.
    • Children shall be removed from the area until the pesticide has dried or as long as recommended on the label.

Emergency preparedness

Written Emergency Plan : The provider shall maintain and post in a prominent location a written plan for the emergency evacuation, relocation, shelter-in-place, or lockdown of the children in the event of a natural or civil disaster or another emergency, which shall include:

  • First aid kit : The location of the first aid kit and any additional first aid supplies;
  • Relocation site : An anticipated relocation site able to provide adequate, safe shelter for providers and enrolled children;
  • Hospital : The hospital or clinic to which injured or ill children will be taken;
  • Telephone numbers : The telephone numbers for obtaining police, fire, ambulance, and poison control services; including the National Poison Emergency Hotline at (800) 222-1222;
  • Written authorization : The location of written authorization from parent(s) for emergency medical care for each child;
  • Evacuation diagram : A diagram showing how the home is to be evacuated in case of emergency;
  • Notifying parents : Procedures for notifying each child’s parent of the relocation, shelter-in-place, or lockdown, including the procedures for communicating with each parent before and during the emergency and ensuring family reunification after the emergency;
  • Provider’s identifying information : The local law enforcement agency or emergency management office to be notified of the provider’s identifying information as required under Evacuation below;
  • Emergency transportation : The procedure for obtaining emergency transportation for children, including those with special needs; and
  • Assistance procedures : Procedures to address the needs of the individual children; such as assistance for infants, toddlers, and children with special needs or chronic medical conditions.

Evacuation : In the event of an evacuation, shelter-in-place, or lockdown, the registered family child care provider shall notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency or emergency management office of:

  • The name of the family child care provider;
  • The location of the family child care home;
  • The number of children, age, and special needs, if any, of each child enrolled and each child residing in the home;
  • The number of adults in the home;
  • The need for emergency transportation;
  • The location to which children will be evacuated;
  • The plan for shelter-in-place;
  • The plan for a lockdown;
  • The plan for reuniting each child with his or her parents.

Drills : The provider shall practice fire, shelter-in-place, lockdown, and evacuation drills with each child from all exit locations at varied times of day and during varied activities, including nap-time. Documentation of the fire, shelter-in-place, lockdown, and evacuation drills shall include the type of drill simulated, date, start time, total amount of time taken to evacuate the home for the evacuation drill, total amount of time taken after warning is issued to direct movement of providers and children to location for shelter-in-place and lockdown drills, and the number of children and providers present for each drill.

  • When multiple shifts of care are provided, such drills must be conducted monthly during each shift of care;
  • The provider shall ensure that all children present are evacuated from the home within three minutes during each fire drill;
  • Outdoor assembly areas shall be located a safe distance from the home as to avoid interference with fire department operations in the event of a fire;
  • The provider shall have a warning system (for example, loud bell or whistle), to alert occupants of the home of an emergency or drill;
  • The provider shall implement and document a monthly practice for the evacuation and relocation drills;
  • The provider shall implement and document two shelter-in-place and two lockdown drills per year; and
  • The provider shall maintain a 72-hour emergency supply, including food, water, medications (if applicable), first aid, and other safety equipment, as needed, to allow for the protection of the health and safety of children, in the event parents are unable to pick up their children due to a disaster. Food supplies shall be non-perishable and of sufficient quantity for all children for an overnight stay.

The provider shall ensure that:

  • Smoke detectors : At least one working smoke detector is installed on each floor of the home. If smoke detectors operate from electric power within the home, such detectors must have a battery-powered backup energy source;
  • Door locks : All interior doors that can be locked from the inside have a means to be unlocked from the outside in case of emergency;
  • Heating and cooling devices : All heating or cooling devices are adequately vented, protected by guards or barriers and kept clear of combustible materials;
  • Fireplaces : Wood or wood pellet, coal-burning stoves, and fireplaces have protective barriers and are not accessible to children;
  • Portable heaters : Portable electric space heaters and portable liquid fuel-burning heating appliances are not in use when children are in care;
  • Radiators : Radiators and pipes located in rooms occupied by children are covered when the heating system is in use; and
  • Unobstructed : Stairways, hallways, and exits from rooms and from the home are unobstructed, except for safety barriers.
    • Each room used for child care has at least two means of egress.
    • Egress doors from the residence shall be readily operable from the egress side without the operation of a key.
    • A means of egress shall be free of obstructions that would prevent its use, including the accumulation of ice and snow.
    • The second means of egress may be an unobstructed, operable window not less than 820 square inches and large enough to allow all adults and children to escape.
    • The provider shall not allow rest and sleep in a basement unless there are two approved means of egress that meet the provisions of the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code (NJUCC) and the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code
    • Security bars, when present, must be hinged with a quick release mechanism inside the home that requires one motion to operate.
    • Every stairway is maintained free of obstructions and provides safe passage.
    • Stairways within the exits with four or more steps have a railing;
  • Electrical cords are maintained in good condition;
  • Appliances : Major appliances shall be plugged directly into electric outlets; and
  • Carbon monoxide detectors : Approved carbon monoxide detectors shall be located and installed on every level in the family child care home in accordance with the provisions of the State codes and guidelines.

General safety

The provider shall ensure that:

  • Hazard free
    • The home and its furnishings present no hazard to the health and safety of the children in care;
    • All items that may be hazardous to children, including medicines, poisonous plants, toxic substances, tobacco products, matches and sharp objects, are stored out of the reach of children;
  • Safety barriers :
    • Safety barriers are installed to prevent children from falling from stairs, ramps, balconies, porches (when used for child care activities), elevated play areas, and any areas that subject children to falls.
      • Gates shall be provided at the top and bottom of each stairway, as appropriate, in areas of the home where infants and toddlers are in care.
      • Gates at the top of the stairs shall be hardware mounted to the wall for stability;
  • Electrical outlets : All electrical outlets that are accessible to the children are covered with safety caps, ground fault interrupters or have safety outlets installed;
  • Flashlight : A working flashlight is available for emergency lighting;
  • Firearms : All firearms, other weapons (such as bb guns, paintball guns, hunting knives, bows, swords, and martial arts weapons), and ammunition are stored in locked areas out of the reach of children;
  • Lead-based surfaces : The home shall be free of exposed lead-based paint surfaces, which are flaking, peeling or chipped;
  • Unfinished areas of the home including, but not limited to, attics, basements, and additions shall not be used for the care of children;
  • Portable fans shall be kept out of reach of children; and
  • Trampolines : The use of trampolines by enrolled children is prohibited, and shall be inaccessible to the children during operating hours.

Environmental sanitation and personal hygiene


  • The provider shall ensure that children wash their hands with soap and running water as follows:
    • Upon arrival for the day;
    • Before eating;
    • Immediately after using the toilet;
    • Immediately after coming into contact with blood, saliva, and other body secretions or fluids; and
    • After caring for animals or their equipment or after coming in contact with an animal’s body secretions.
  • The provider shall ensure that an infant’s hands are washed with soap and water immediately after a diaper change.
  • The provider and all other adults caring for children in the home shall wash their hands with soap and running water immediately:
    • Upon arrival for the day and after breaks;
    • Before and after preparing or serving food or beverages;
    • Before and after eating or feeding a child;
    • Before and after brushing or helping a child brush teeth;
    • Before and after giving medication or applying an ointment or cream in which a break in the skin (for example, sores, cuts, or scrapes) may be encountered;
    • Before and after playing with children in water (including swimming);
    • After diapering a child;
    • After toileting;
    • After assisting a child in toileting;
    • After contact with blood, diarrhea, vomit, or other body secretions or fluids; and
    • After caring for animals or their equipment or after coming in contact with an animal’s body secretions.

Clothes and supplies : the provider shall ensure that:

  • Each child is supplied with a clean towel and washcloth for his or her exclusive use or disposable towels and washcloths.
  • A change of clothing is provided for each child;
  • A child’s clothing is changed when wet or soiled; and
  • Each child’s personal hygiene items, such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and combs, are stored separately from those of others.

Disposable rubber gloves : The provider shall use disposable rubber gloves, which shall be discarded after each use when cleaning up blood, vomit, urine, fecal matter or other body secretions.

Disinfectant : The provider shall ensure that areas in the home, bedding, furniture, carpeting and clothing that come into contact with blood, vomit, urine, fecal matter or other body or animal secretions are cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a commercially prepared disinfectant. This solution shall be used in accordance with label instructions. The following equipment items or surfaces shall be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with commercially prepared disinfectant after an incident occurs:

  • Toilet seats;
  • Sinks and faucets;
  • Mops that were used in the clean-up;
  • Washcloths, towels, and sponges that were used in the clean-up; and
  • Thermometers.

Toys : Toys that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretion or excretion shall be set aside until they are cleaned by hand with water and detergent, rinsed, sanitized, and air-dried or in a mechanical dishwasher.

Source Chapter 54 Manual of Requirements for Family Child Care Registration


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.