Opening a day care in Illinois can meet the needs of many parents in your area. Rural child care is particularly needed in Illinois, and there are projected to be over 5.6 million children born in the state by the year 2025. Ensure that your program meets state licensing requirements so parents can be sure that your center provides quality child care.

Research the Marketplace

Evaluate the need in your community for family home child care. Check with your local child care reference and referral office for information about the type of child care being requested in your area. Inquire about the need for child care in your county by contacting the Illinois Department of Public Health. Also ask your community development office or chamber of commerce about businesses that may be opening in your community soon whose employees may require child care.

Licensure Requirements

Review licensing regulations for home day care in Illinois on the website for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. License-exempt child care in Illinois applies if you care for three or fewer children under the age of thirteen, including your own, or children from a single household or only children related to you.

Licensed home day care in Illinois is eligible for funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, Child and Adult Care Food Program and higher Illinois Department of Human Services subsidies. There may also be other funding available.

Know Licensure Law

A license for a day care home enables you to care for as many as eight children age 12 and under by yourself, or up to 12 children with an assistant. Your own children, if they will be present, are included in these numbers. Refer to Illinois licensing regulations for specific regulations about the number of children and their ages you want to provide care for in your home.

Local Regulations for Home Day Care in Illinois

Check with local fire, building safety, and zoning authorities to find out what local regulations may apply to your family child care home. Your homeowners' association may also have additional restrictions. Consult the licensing regulations for family child care homes in Illinois to learn about the state standards for your home.

Make any needed alterations or repairs to your home to ensure compliance with all local and state regulations. Section off parts of your home that are not needed for child care during the day. Switch to locks that can be unlocked from both sides, and add carpet to tile or wood floors for extra traction.

Develop a Business Plan

Create a business plan that details how you want to structure your business and how you want to market your services, and that also includes policies and procedures for staffing, educational programming for your business, a contract of expectations between you and parents, and meal plans, for example. Include a budget that projects your initial, first-year expenses and income, as well as expenses and revenue when your center reaches full capacity.

Talk to your local child care reference and referral office for help estimating costs of equipment and supplies and other related child care expenses. Also devise a record-keeping system for any staff, each child and your expenses and income.

Purchase Supplies and Equipment

Purchase any needed supplies and equipment for your family child care home. Food, art supplies, toys, mats for nap time, soap, and paper are some examples of items your child care home will need.

License Application and Background Checks

Apply for your license if you must obtain one. The licensing process takes 3-6 months, so be sure to apply well ahead of time of your planned opening. Conduct background checks on everyone who lives in your house or will be working with you over the age of 13. Those over 18 must be fingerprinted as well.

With your completed Application for Home License, include a list of those who will work in your day care home as well as members of your household over 13, completed background check authorizations for you, employees and each member of your household over 13, a completed Child Support Certification form, and the names, addresses and phone numbers of at least three adults not related to you or living with you who can vouch for your ability to provide child care and your character. Obtain forms from the Department of Children and Family Services. There is no fee for the license application.

Safety Inspections and Certifications

Complete a fire safety inspection. When you submit your license application, your local fire authorities will have 15 days to inspect your home and submit their findings to the Department of Children and Families. The Department of Children and Families will conduct the inspection if the fire authorities do not, and it will include its findings in its on-site study of your home.

Get certified to perform first aid, infant/child CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

Have a licensing representative complete a day care home inspection. The inspection will include observing how you and any staff members interact with children and how well your program and home comply with licensing standards. Upon approval, you'll receive a home day care license that is valid for three years.