The Requirements for Setting Up a Home Daycare in California

For those who love taking care of children and have made it their life mission to teach and help raise children, it may be time to set up a home daycare in California.

This guide will detail all of the requisites to set up a daycare in California. To start off, one needs to meet home daycare licensing requirements.

Home Daycare Licensing and Permits

In the state of California, the Child Care Licensing Division (CCLD) of the Department of Social Services (DSS) handles the child care licensing process. When taking care of more than one child from a family, it is necessary to have a home daycare license.

Before applying for this type of license, one will need to attend an orientation session.


To schedule an orientation on how to start a home daycare, please call the closest state licensing agency. Search online for a list of these licensing agencies.

At the orientation, one has to pay a non-refundable fee to learn all about setting up a home daycare in California. After attending the orientation and completing this requirement, it is time to fill out paperwork and apply for the home daycare license.

License Application

The home daycare licensing application has many questions to fill out to ensure the children are safe and protected while guaranteeing the business owner follows all mandatory laws. The type of information asked in the license application includes:

  • The ages of the children that will be attending the daycare
  • The number of children in each age range
  • Background checks of any criminal records and compliance with health and safety
  • Whether the home daycare will be a nonprofit or a for-profit business
  • Whether the licensee owns the home of the daycare center

It’s also necessary to look into local zoning laws. Some zoning laws, such as living in a residential area instead of a commercial region, mean that it’s not possible to run a home daycare center. A compliance certificate from the local zoning board is another additional demand.

Picking a Business Entity

To avoid taking on personal liability if something goes wrong with a child in a home daycare center, the business owner might need a legal form for protection. As such, the best option is to choose a business entity of a limited liability company or corporation.

We all know that children can be clumsy and many are definitely risk-takers. As such, a child or two may injure themselves while in the licensee’s care and on his or her premises. In such a case, it’s better for the business to be liable for an injury instead of the licensee.

Laws Regarding Health and Safety

There are many laws and regulations in California regarding the health and safety of its children. There are very specific areas that the state government focuses on, including fire safety, the ratio of staff to kids, disaster evacuation plans, and training requirements for all staff on the premises.

Some other California laws aimed to protect the health and safety of children delve into:

  • Background checks on criminal records and child abuse
  • Reporting protocols when children need medical treatment
  • The named licensee’s requirement to be present when children are on the premises
  • Barring smoking cigarettes in home daycare centers
  • Napping requirements
  • Safety requirements for toys and playrooms/areas
  • Outdoor play area requirements
  • Transportation of kids

These are just some of the laws one should look into when building a home daycare center, as California has many regulations regarding children’s health and safety.

Home Requirements

There are a number of requirements for the home when applying for a license to open a home daycare center in California. The licensee will always need to be present at the daycare to ensure the children are always supervised.

The home will need to be clean and have all heating and ventilation systems working properly. There will also need to be a phone working inside the premises. Food will need to be appropriately stored and refrigerated. Toys will need to be safe for children to play with based on their age.

When a daycare is in operation and children are present, all adults are prohibited from smoking cigarettes on the premises. If there are children younger than five years of age, all staircases will need to be fenced or barricaded.

These are just some of the home requirements for daycares in California. It is also necessary to have insurance for a child care business.

General Liability Insurance

Since taking care of children comes with risks, especially regarding their health and safety, it is essential to have a general liability insurance policy. This will also cover common business risks like theft, fire, and other risks related to injuries or property damage.

A child care provider would benefit by working with an insurance agent who has experience providing policies to daycare centers.

Lastly, there are specific laws related to employment that child care providers need to abide by in California.

Laws Regarding Hiring and Employment

If a home daycare licensee has more than six children in their care, they will need to hire an assistant, according to California law. There may be plenty of hiring and turnover in this industry, so the owner of a child care center will need to be familiar with employment and hiring laws.

Some areas to consider are employment discrimination laws, workers’ compensation, and regulations surrounding the hiring process. Be careful when creating a job application to avoid legal issues. Interview questions will also need to be completely legal, so avoid asking about age and ethnicity.

Wrap Up

This guide details the licensing requirements for a home daycare center, including the regulations one needs to abide by to keep children safe and healthy. It also details home requirements and the need for a general liability insurance policy.

Once all requirements are met, a licensed child care provider can design an excellent home daycare center for kids in a local California community.

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About the Author: Sam