Obtaining a California daycare license requires working your way through the application process. If you are setting up a Small Family Child Care Home, which is for eight or fewer children, the requirements are different from those for a Large Family Child Care Home, which serves nine to 14 children. A larger daycare center, serving 15 or more children, has different requirements for you to meet as well. Even though the requirements do vary, the process to start a California daycare and to obtain a daycare license is the same for all three types of homes.

Step 1.

Attend one of the regularly scheduled mandatory orientation meetings. The minimum age is 18. Contact a regional Community Care Licensing Office to find the time and location of a meeting near you. Pay the non-refundable fee for the meeting. As of 2010, the cost of the meeting was $25. At the end of the meeting, receive the certificate of attendance. Check that it has the appropriate signatures on it.

Step 2.

Read and understand all parts of the document “California Family Child Care Home Licensing Requirements.” Even though parts of this document may refer to a different size daycare than you plan to operate, you must know the requirements for all sizes of child care facilities.

Step 3.

Pay the fee for a criminal background check for yourself, your spouse and anyone who is going to work in your daycare center.

Step 4.

Take a tuberculosis test. Each employee, as well as your spouse, should also have the test.

Step 5.

Enroll in a First Aid class that includes pediatric CPR training. California requires that you attend at least 15 hours of class in order to meeting this training requirement. Obtain a signed attendance certificate.

Step 6.

Prepare your home for an inspection by an agent of the California Department of Social Services. Clean your home thoroughly. Store all poisons in a secure location. This includes common household items that might endanger a child, such a shampoo or toothpaste. Put safety locks on doors and cover unused electrical outlets with protectors. Fill the fire extinguishers and check the batteries for the smoke alarms. Ensure First Aid supplies are on hand. You must have a working telephone. Provide a secure outdoor play area for the children in your care. Fence the yard. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, fence them appropriately as well. Supply a copy of the deed to your home or a copy of the rental agreement.

Step 7.

Complete all the forms in the application packet in ink, or type them. Sign and date them as you add them to the packet. These include information about the physical location of the daycare center. Add a list of children under your care. Supply proof of attendance at a California child care orientation meeting, as well as proof of completion of health and safety training. Supply the criminal background check information as well as your health certificate that states you and your employees are tuberculosis free.

Complete the form for the Emergency Care and Disaster Plan. Fill out and sign the document stating you understand your requirements regarding the reporting of suspected child abuse. Draw a sketch of both the indoor and outdoor components of your child care facility. Write a check for the amount of the licensing fee. The application packet shows the current fee.


Make a copy of all forms in the application packet for your records.