Nearly 400,000 working mothers in Ohio have children under the age of 6, so quality day care is in demand. Child care can be provided either in a center or in a provider's home. In some instances, licensing isn't required, but you must be licensed to receive monies for children entitled to publicly funded care.

Ohio Day Care Licensing Rules

Child care programs are governed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Visit the department's website if you're thinking about starting a day care in Ohio. There are several options when considering the opening of a licensed day care:

  • Child Care Centers that serve seven or more children of any age must be licensed.

  • Family Child Care Type A Homes can care for 7 to 12 children in the provider's home, as long as no staff member must care for more than six children (or three children under age 2). The provider's own children, if under the age of 6, are included in the total.

  • Family Child Care Type B Homes serve children through the publicly funded child care program. Care is for one to six children in the provider's home with no more than three children under the age of 2. The provider's own children, if under the age of 6, are included in the total.

Unlicensed Child Care in Ohio

Check with the state to determine licensing requirements for your program. Licensing may not be required in certain circumstances, such as the following examples:

  • Care provided in a child's own home

  • Programs that operate less than two weeks per year (Vacation Bible School, for example)

  • Programs where parents remain on the premises (unless at a parent's employment site)

  • Specialized training in specific subjects, such as art, drama and soccer

  • Programs operating one day a week for no more than six hours

Worker Qualifications

Ohio day care licensing rules require staff members who work at a child care facility to be least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. In lieu of a high school education, workers can complete a state-approved vocational education home economics course or a child care job training for adults program.

Check Zoning Laws for Centers

Before starting a day care center in Ohio, make sure the property is zoned for a licensed day care. Plan for areas for outdoor play, staff parking and child pickup and drop-off. For each child a center is licensed to serve, there must be at least 35 square feet of usable wall-to-wall indoor floor space and 60 feet of usable outdoor space.

Develop a Business Plan

Create a business plan that details items such as business structure, 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. Look online for business plan 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 be in attendance. The primary concern when caring for young children is safety. You must have electrical outlet covers, cabinet door locks for cabinets where hazardous materials are stored, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, wall-mounted baby gates and first aid kits.

Educational equipment can include items such as chalkboards, easels, dramatic play setups (a toy kitchen, for example) and playground equipment. Books, art supplies, dress-up items, toys, games and puzzles are also necessary.

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 Ohio

In figures reported by for 2018, families paid an average of $7,358 a year for an infant in a home-based day care in Ohio and $6,731 for a 4-year-old. Costs vary by location (metro areas are generally higher), type of day care and services offered, such as hot meals and extended hours. When determining the prices for your day care, check the rates charged by comparable facilities in your area.