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Washington state 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 State, the Department of Early Learning (DEL)  is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of children who attend or reside in regulated child care operations. The DEL grants licenses to child care operators to open their own programs.

In this series of posts, we’ll help you understand what you’ll need to do to open your own home preschool or child care in Washington State.

In Washington State, there are two types of licenses for family child care:

  • Initial License
  • Full, Non-expiring License

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 or equivalency certificate, pass a background check, and more. Read more about License Eligibility.

There are certain annual training requirements you will have to meet. To learn more about Training Requirements for Licensing, click here.

Lastly, your home will have to meet certain indoor and outdoor requirements for you to receive a family home child care license in Washington State. 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.