People have been providing care for children in their homes for ages, but unlike the days-of-old, it's no longer acceptable to decide you want to open a day care in your house and simply set up shop. Home day cares are regulated, and those wanting to care for kids in their homes legally are required to have a license.
Individual state licensing agencies have written booklets with guidelines outlining the minimum standards potential home day care providers must meet to get, and maintain, a license to operate. But because home day cares can only care for a small number of children (usually six to eight), the licensing standards are not as stringent as those for larger child care centers. A copy of the book containing the minimum standard requirements in your state can be obtained from the licensing department of your state department of human services.
Licensing guidelines vary form state to state, but most states require prospective home day care owners to have a high school diploma and a minimum number of child care training hours. Training hours can typically be obtained via workshops at community colleges or approved early childhood training centers. Home day care providers are also required to pass criminal background checks, and be certified in pediatric first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. All of this information must be up to date, and on file at the applicable licensing agency before you will be considered for a home day care license.
Kids need plenty of age-appropriate toys and activities such as dolls, blocks, art materials, and dramatic play things to keep them busy. The children in your care will also need a place to eat and nap. The day care licensing agency will give you a list of equipment needed to meet minimum standards.
Once all of the necessary paperwork is complete and all of your equipment is in place, a representative from your state licensing department will inspect your home to ensure it meets all of the safety criteria outlined by the state. Some of the things the representative will check for include an enclosed fence around the play area, overall cleanliness and condition of the home; working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors (a fire inspection might also be required); and proper chemical storage.
Once you obtain a license for your home day care, minimum standards must be maintained at all times. If you violate minor rules, you will be written up and given the opportunity to correct the violations. But serious violations will result in your home day care license being suspended or revoked.
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