Do You and Your Home Meet California’s Home Day Care Requirements?

Running a daycare can be profitable, fun, and rewarding. People who love children are welcome to start their own daycare. However, the most successful people understand that daycares are a business. The parents pay for a service, and that service is provided. And all businesses should be held to strict accountability and meet the state’s safety and ethical precautions. Home daycare licensing and starting your own daycare is not easy. 


In California, these requirements can be rigorous. However, this is with good reason. Childcare is an area lawmakers pay special attention to keep children safe, and by having daycares meet these standards, they can guarantee the safety of children. Here are the major requirements daycare’s need to meet to legally run in California.

Types of Licenses

There are two types of home daycare licenses in California, a small home daycare license and a large home daycare license. They have mostly the same requirements, but they have a few key differences.

Basic Requirements

  • The person with the license will be in the house and provide child care. If they need to leave, they must have another adult step in to provide child care. Licensees must not be absent more than 20% of the time the care is given.
  • The home should be neat and provide heating and A/C for comfort.
  • There must be a phone service at the house.
  • You should provide appropriate toys and equipment for children.
  • If a child seems ill, they need to be separated from the other children. If a child is found to be infectious, they shall be kept separate until they are no longer infectious.
  • If children bring food from home, it should be labeled and stored appropriately.
  • No smoking is allowed during childcare hours.
  • The home should have no dangers to children.
  • All fencing and pools meet safety requirements.
  • Emergency contact cards and a roster will be maintained for each child and stored in the home. 
  • A fire and disaster plan must be on file, and every child must be aware of these plans with regularly run drills. 

Small Home Day Care Requirements

  • The licensee shall not care for more than six to eight children at any time. The exact number depends upon the children’s ages.

Large Home Day Care Requirements

  • The building must have three detached sides and two exits that do not go near a stove or through a garage.
  • A large Home Day Care must employ an assistant of at least 14 years old if more than six children are in its care.
  • The licensee must have one year of experience in child care.
  • And finally, you may have to obtain a business license or zoning permit depending on your city or county laws.

The License Requirements

Everyone in the home must pass a background check, along with the licensee and everyone employed at the daycare. This may not seem like a big deal. However, they also look at arrest records, and it is up to the judgment of the inspector.

Unfortunately, much of this process is up to the opinion of the people inspecting. A person opening a large daycare needs to have at least one year of experience in a daycare center or have run a small home daycare for one year.

Who Needs a Day Care License?

The state of California says people watching children for more than one day a week for longer than four hours need a daycare license and are liable for a two-hundred-dollar fine for each day they are in operation without a license. This does not apply if the person watching the children is a relative.


Ultimately, California’s laws for child care are strict with good reason. They want to ensure the children are safe, happy, and healthy. Anyone can open a home daycare, but not everyone can do it well, so they aim to get only the people who will do it well to open them, both by having them meet all the safety requirements, but also by having a lot of hoops to jump through so only the people who really want to open a daycare will do so.

It’s tough to meet the requirements, but it’s perfectly possible. It can be a nice stream of income to add, but daycares are a business and should be planned accordingly.


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