How to Open a Day Care Center in New Jersey

A day-care center in New Jersey that enrolls six or more children under the age of 13 must be licensed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), which is a part of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Day-care centers have strict guidelines in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the children enrolled. In New Jersey, day-care centers are governed by state regulations, but some cities and counties have additional requirements. Before opening a day-care center, get a solid plan and follow the rules.

Write a business plan that outlines the goals of the day-care center, how much money is needed for start up, and how you plan to market the business. If you need to borrow money, the bank will require a business plan.

Start the licensing process by contacting the New Jersey Department of Human Services for the information you need to get started. This information is critical as you plan your day-care center.

Find a location for the day-care center. The space must comply with the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code and must be zoned for child care. Call the Department of Human Services' Office of Licensing for a courtesy inspection. This inspection is free and will help you see what areas of your building need improvement.

Study the Department of Human Services' Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers. This has all the information you need about staffing, liability insurance, program activities, and record-keeping requirements.

Hire employees. The state will require you to do criminal background checks—including fingerprint and child-abuse checks—on each employee. Look for highly qualified employees, as this will be an important marketing tool.

Advertise your day-care center. Hand out fliers, advertise in the Yellow Pages, and network with parent groups and other day-care centers. Try to use quality marketing. Parents want a day-care center that has a first-class feel to it.

Get a temporary license if you don't yet meet all the requirements for a regular license. If you can show that the day-care center is in substantial compliance, you can get a temporary license for 18 months while you work to meet the other requirements.


  • Opening a day-care center is a big project. Consider getting your feet wet by opening a home-based family child-care center first. New Jersey will allow you to care for fewer than six children in your home.


About the Author

Janey Lewis is a seasoned writer and public relations expert with more than 20 years of writing and PR experience. A graduate of Auburn University with a degree in journalism, she has been a newspaper reporter, project manager for a PR firm and press secretary to a U.S. Congressman on Capitol Hill.