How to Start a Daycare in Ohio

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More than 215,000 Ohio children are cared for in daycare facilities each workday, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Choosing the right childcare environment is is a very important decision for parents, and Ohio daycare regulations are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of children in daycare settings. All potential daycare providers must follow a specific series of steps and comply with state regulations prior to opening their businesses.

Attend two orientation training sessions. Session 1 discusses the business aspects of running a daycare, while session 2 reviews the procedure for developing a plan of how you will run your business and meet the state requirements. After you have completed the plan, you will have a third session scheduled to review and, if necessary, make corrections to your plan.

Contact your local zoning board to secure approval for your business. If you receive zoning approval, contact the local building inspection department to secure a Certificate of Use and Occupancy for the areas of your home that you plan to use for child care.

Contact your local fire and health departments to arrange for fire and health inspections of your home. You will need to pass a fire safety inspection and secure a food service license before opening your center.

Develop a staffing plan. The administrator or owner of the center must be onsite at least 50 percent of the time, according to Ohio law. If you plan to have staff, you must designate the staff before the center opens.

Secure medical evaluations, proof of education, references and criminal background checks for yourself and all of your employees. Your local licensing specialist from the Department of Jobs and Family Services can help you acquire the necessary forms for this information.

Purchase any necessary equipment and safety items. Design and set up your childcare area. Keep in mind that if you plan to care for children for more than four hours at a time, you must provide a safe outdoor play space.

Submit your application with the required documentation. All of the forms can be found online, or you can acquire them from your licensing specialist.

Pass a compliance inspection from the Department of Job and Family Services. If any areas of your center are not compliant, the licensing specialist cannot recommend giving you a license until any issues are corrected. If you pass inspection, you will receive notification of a provisional license and can begin operating your daycare business.


  • You must display your operating license in a visible location at all times. When you receive your provisional notification letter, you must display the letter until your license arrives. It generally takes at least 150 days after submitting your application to become a licensed daycare provider in Ohio. It can take longer if structural issues need to be addressed. Ohio designates home daycares as either Type A or B. Type A daycares care for six to 12 children and must be licensed, and Type B homes care for fewer than six children. Type B homes only need to be licensed if they accept public funding.



About the Author

An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Serhiy Kobyakov/iStockphoto/Getty Images