Many working parents choose home-based child care over day care centers. Thirty-eight percent of children in the United States under the age of 5 receive care in family-home settings, either an in-home child care or by relatives, according to the Urban Institute. In South Carolina, the Department of Social Services regulates home-based child care centers.


People who care regularly for children from more than one unrelated family in their home must register with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS). Registration lasts for one year and requires a home to have a working, listed telephone number. In addition, the operator, all family members at least 15 years old, and any other caregivers must pass a state and federal fingerprint check. The operator must also submit three letters of reference and have written zoning board approval. DSS requires parent statements confirming the operator reviewed the regulations. Registered family child care homes may care for up to six children.


In addition to meeting all of the requirements for registration, an operator must pass fire, sanitation and child care licensing inspections to qualify for a home-based child care license. The operator must also have First Aid and CPR certification. Licenses are valid for two years. A licensed family child care home may care for up to six children in the operator’s home.

Group Child Care Home

Group child care homes may care for seven to 12 children. Nine or more children, or four children under the age of 2 requires an additional caregiver. A group child care home must be in the home of the operator, not in another building. The operator of a group child care home must be 21 years of age and meet education and/or child care experience requirements. The operator must meet one of the following qualifications: an early childhood education or child development bachelor's degree; a bachelor’s degree and at least six months experience in a licensed child care center; an associate's degree and one year experience in an approved child care facility; a child development associate credential or diploma and one year experience in an approved child care facility; or be a high school graduate and have three years experience in an approved facility, one of which included supervisory experience.

Group child care homes must meet zoning regulations and pass fire, sanitation and licensing inspections. The operator, family members who are at least 15 years old and any caregivers must pass state and federal fingerprint checks. Staff members must be first aid- and CPR-certified, and undergo blood-borne pathogen training. Architectural plans for the house and three letters of reference must be submitted to DSS. Licenses are valid for two years.