The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) regulates in-home day care, which it refers to as Family Child Care Homes, in San Diego. Licensure is required when you provide care and supervision to non-relative children from more than one family.

In-Home Day Care San Diego

Getting a Family Child Care Home license in California requires the following:

  • Attend an online or in-person orientation. 

  • Register through the California Department of Social Services and pay the fee ($25 for online, $50 for in-person). Registration is nonrefundable and nontransferable, so the CDSS advises applicants to be certain they qualify for licensure before registering.

  • Know and understand all Family Child Care Home licensing laws and regulations. Visit the CDSS website to read them. The CDSS no longer provides paper copies.

  • After completing the orientation, submit an application packet.

  • Undergo a prelicensing inspection. You are contacted by a licensing program analyst to schedule the appointment.

Licensee Requirements in California

To obtain licensing for a Family Child Care Home, you must meet these requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age

  • Live in the home where the family day care will be provided

  • Obtain a criminal record clearance

  • Take a TB test

  • Complete 16 hours of pediatric health and safety training with an approved vendor or accredited college or university. The training includes preventive health practices, pediatric CPR and first-aid certifications.

If you are hiring staff for your home-based facility, day care license requirements specify that workers must be at least 18 years of age. Workers aged 14 to 17 may assist if they are under the direct supervision of the provider at all times.

Legal Exemptions From Licensing

Unless you are legally exempt from licensing, you are breaking the law in California and subject to fines of $200 per day of unlicensed day care operation. Programs that are legally exempt include:

  • Child care in the child's own home, such as provided by a nanny or babysitter

  • Care for children from only one family other than the provider's family

  • Informal child care arrangements such as co-ops or play groups where no money is exchanged for child care and supervision

  • Certain school-age programs, such as those offered on-site by schools or by parks and recreation services

  • On-site military care programs, which are regulated separately by the military, or programs provided on federal property.

Develop a Business Plan

Create a business plan detailing items such as staffing, marketing, educational programs, fee schedule and financials, including startup costs, estimated operating costs and projected balance sheets for at least the first two years. You can find online templates specific to the day care industry. A written business plan is necessary when seeking funding from lenders, including banks, investors and grantors.

Purchase Supplies and Equipment

Purchase needed supplies and equipment for the day care, taking into consideration the number and the ages of the children who will attend. Safety items include electrical outlet covers, cabinet door locks, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, wall-mounted baby gates and first-aid kits.

Educational equipment can include chalkboards, easels, dramatic play setups (a toy kitchen, for example) and playground equipment. You also want to be well-supplied with books, art supplies, washable toys, games and puzzles.

Basic furnishings include tables and chairs, rockers, child-sized recliners, bookshelves, coat racks, file cabinets, storage cubbies, cribs, playpens and child-sized cots or sleeping mats. Daily supplies include baby wipes, tissues, paper towels and child-safe cleaning supplies.

Home Day Care Rates in San Diego

Home day care rates in San Diego ranged from $192 to $450 per week for an infant, $189 to $400 for a toddler, $175 to $350 for preschool and $130 to $325 for school-age children as of March 2019. The YMCA of San Diego collects and averages data by ZIP code, so check its website to help determine the pricing for your day care.