Child care center regulations vary from state to state and country to country. However, no matter where you want to start your child care business it is likely that there will be regulations in place that you must comply with if you want to get licensed to operate legally. After all, you are going into the business of caring for children and every society sees their care, well being and safety as being of extreme importance.
It is likely that your county will require you to go through an application process and pass an inspection before you are able to receive a child care business license. Even if you live in a state that does not require a license to run a daycare business it is still worth getting one anyway. A license can make things much easier when it comes to dealing with parents and other organizations such as insurance companies.
Let’s take a look at some of the general regulations that you may have to comply with in your state if you are to become a licensed child care center operator.
Building and Environment Regulations
You are required to give the children in your care a minimum level of space.
The building where you operate your business has to be zoned for uses that include daycare and has to have sufficient lighting, ventilation, air-conditioning or heating.
Your center also has to be properly equipped in a way that suits the age groups that you care for. If you care for infants then you must provide suitable cribs for them to sleep in during the day and high chairs for their meals. If you cater to older children then you need an outdoor play area with play structures.
The building must also have a sufficient number of exits in case of fire and the property must be fenced in a way that keeps children within safe areas.
Health and Safety Regulations
To get a daycare business license you must show that you intend to create a hygienic environment with hygienic operating practices. Your child care center should be cleaned regularly and other policies regarding how often children wash their hands throughout the day for example should be listed.
You also must have the medical records of each child in your center on file and have a plan in place in case they become sick or are injured.
Licensing standards state that a safe environment must be created to avoid injuries and accidents. Dangerous things within the home or facility in question such as power sockets, knives and poisons should be locked away or covered appropriately. Emergency and evacuation plans must be in place.
Group Size and Staff to Child Ratios
You will also face regulations relating to the number of care givers that you are required to allocate to a certain number of children. Every state has different regulations regarding the number of children that a child care center can take and the minimum staff to child ratios that are permitted. If you also have your own children who will be in your care during your home daycare hours you may have to allow for them in your calculations too. Home daycare centers usually face more restrictions than those operating out of commercial premises and in most states are limited in the total number of children that they are allowed to take.
Most states now require daycare staff to complete some form of training in child care or early childhood development. This is usually just a basic certificate that can be done at a local community college at night or in the weekends over a short period of time. It may also be required that staff do a small number of hours of ongoing training each year to keep up with developments in the field.
It is also usually required that child care givers are at least 18, provide references and prove that they don’t have a criminal record. This can be done by authorising a reference check with the local police department.
While it is unlikely that you will need a nurse on site it is likely that staff members will be required to have done some kind of First Aid course.
There are some states with tougher requirements so you should check this out first as it may be more difficult to find qualified staff under such circumstances.
Child Meal Regulations
As a daycare business operator you will be serving food to children throughout the duration of the day and some states have specific regulations relating to meal service and feeding infants. These regulations require you to serve well balanced, nutritious meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
If food is being prepared on your business premises then you may also need a permit from local health authorities.
To get your license approved you will probably also need to provide details of your daily program and the purpose of each activity. Define some of the overall goals that your facility has and how each part of the schedule contributes towards meeting those goals.
Child Care Center Management
Before approving a child care business license, authorities may also need to know numerous other details about your business. Additional information that you need to complete the license application process could include insurance policy details, your opening hours, operating procedures, policies and fees. You must also state who is in charge of the center, who will be responsible in an emergency and the responsibilities of each staff member.
Make sure that you fully understand all of the licensing requirements and regulations while you are still in the planning phase of your business. List them out carefully in your business plan and allow for the relevant compliance costs when you work out your startup costs and do your financial estimates.