How to Start a Home Daycare in Illinois

by Leyla Norman; Updated September 26, 2017
Start a home day care in Illinois.

Start a business in Illinois as a family home child care facility, and meet the needs of many parents in your area. Rural child care is particularly in need 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 the state’s licensing requirements so parents can be sure that your center provides quality child care.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Review Illinois licensing regulations for family child care homes. Not all family child care homes are required to obtain a license, but there are perks to getting one, which include receiving funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program and higher Illinois Department of Human Services subsidies. In addition, a license may help you receive other types of funding. You can also enroll more children in your program and charge higher fees per child.

Step 3

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's help. These numbers include your own children and unrelated and related children. 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.

Step 4

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's 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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

Step 7

Apply for your license if you choose to 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.

Step 8

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.

Step 9

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

Step 10

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. The licensing representative's supervisor will approve or deny the representative's study of your home day care and recommend you for a license if he or she approves the study. Your family home day care license is valid for three years.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

Photo Credits

  • child playing image by Christopher Hall from