How to Become a Licensed Day-Care Provider in Illinois

The state of Illinois licenses child-care providers.
The state of Illinois licenses child-care providers. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

If you want to open a child-care center in Illinois for more than four children at a time, you must apply for a state license. This is true whether you provide child care in your home or in a separate facility. The state's Department of Children and Family Services governs the process for obtaining a license.

Arrange a criminal background check for yourself. If you're seeking a home day-care license, get a criminal background check for anyone who lives in the house who is 13 years or older.

Acquire certification in child and infant CPR from an accredited source, such as the American Red Cross. Your local branch of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services may offer these classes or can put you in touch with approved local courses and instructors. Anyone you employ in your day care must also have child and infant CPR certification.

Get a full physical in which your doctor declares you free of any chronic impairments or transmittable diseases. You must also pass a tuberculosis test. For home day-care licenses, you must certify that there are no chronically ill, bedridden or contagious people in your home, and that all your household pets are free of chronic disease.

Purchase basic day-care safety equipment, including a first aid kit, at least one fire extinguisher, emergency supplies in case of a power outage, such as a flashlight and radio Have at least one working telephone.

Childproof your day-care. There is no minimum space requirement if you intend to care for fewer than eight children. However, the space must be free of lead paint, paint chips, and visible environmental hazards. Observe hygiene rules strictly, and if you intend to watch infants and toddlers, childproof electrical sockets, drawers, stair landings and similar potential child hazards. DCFS will inspect to make sure the day-care space is clean and safe.

Remove any firearms or other weapons from the premises.

Fill out the DCFS day-cate license application. There is no charge. Provide at least three references who can testify to your good character. DCFS will check all these references. If at least two out of three don't make positive comments about your ability to work in child care, DCFS will automatically reject your license application. Include documentation about your CPR certification and your criminal background check with your application.

Schedule a DCFS inspection. If DCFS approves your license, you may renew it free every three years, provided you continue to meet all the requirements.

Tips & Warnings

  • Illinois grants temporary permits for applicants who have submitted their applications but who haven't yet been approved. These permits are non-renewable and are good for up to 60 days from the date you file your license application.
  • If you move your day care at any time, you must notify DCFS immediately and request an inspection of the new space.

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