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Washington, DC family child care licensing: An overview

Dreaming of opening up your own in-home preschool or child care but not sure where to start? Chances are, you will need a license to operate your child care or school and each state has its own licensing process to become an in-home child care provider.

In Washington, D.C., any child care program planning to serve two or more children for less than 24 hours a day on a regular basis must obtain a license or registration.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Division of Early Learning provides support for those interested in starting child day care programs in their communities.

If you live in DC, we’ve put together a blog post series on everything you need to know about getting licensed:

In Washington DC, there are two types of licenses for family child care: Child Development Home and Expanded Child Development Home. Learn more about the Types of Licenses here.

To apply for a license, you’ll have to go through an orientation. The application will then require certain inspections and safety regulations. Read more about the in-depth Licensing Process here.

To be eligible for a license, you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or Associate of Arts in early childhood education depending on the type of license, provide references, pass a background check and more. Read more about License Eligibility.

There are certain training requirements you will have to meet within your first 6 months of employment and beyond whether you want to become a provider, assistant, or substitute teacher. To learn more about Training Requirements for Licensing, click here.

Lastly, your home will have to meet certain requirements for you to receive a child care license in Washington, DC. You are required to comply with sanitation, building and fire codes, a certificate of occupancy, home occupation permit, lead clearance, fire approval, and a letter of good standing if incorporated. Learn more about the Home Requirements for Licensing.


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.