Owning and operating a daycare center is a satisfying career for anyone who enjoys working with children and wants to start a small business. If you live in New Orleans, you have several options for structuring your business. Louisiana designates daycare centers as either Class A or Class B; most home daycares fall into the Class B category, which has less stringent education, reporting and staffing requirements than Class A daycares, which are generally daycare centers operated in a commercial space. In either case, though, potential New Orleans daycare providers must be licensed by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services and pass a number of inspections before opening for business.
Visit the New Orleans zoning department to determine if you can operate a daycare in your proposed location. Zoning requirements apply whether you plan to open a home daycare or a daycare center. If your proposed location is suitable, the zoning board will issue a permit.
Meet the education requirements. You must be at least 21 years old and have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college with at least 12 hours of child development coursework; an Associate’s degree in child development or a related field and one year of experience; a National Administrator or Child Development Associate credential and one year of experience; a diploma from a child development training program and one year of experience; or three years of experience as a director of a child care center. If you have questions about whether your experience is acceptable, or need additional training, contact Agenda for Children's New Orleans office.
Complete infant/child/adult first aid and CPR training. If you plan to open a Class A daycare center, you also need certification in Pediatric first aid. In New Orleans, the Child Care Technical Assistance Program at Agenda for Children can provide you with a list of approved training providers in New Orleans; contact Agenda for Children.
Submit the application for licensure. The application is available upon request from the Department of Children and Family Services (see Resources.) In addition to information about your daycare center, you must provide three personal references and agree to a background check.
Schedule the necessary inspections. A licensing specialist from the Department of Children and Family Services will contact you to coordinate inspections by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Office of Public Health, and Sanitation Services. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services licensing office is located in Baton Rouge.
Pass the initial licensing inspection by the Department of Children and Family Services. The inspector will be looking at the facility to ensure that it complies with the child care center minimum standards as outline in the "Kids Are Worth It" publication issued by DCFS. Some of the items the inspector will look for are a system for accurate record keeping, adequate toys and equipment and appropriate spaces for playing, eating and sleeping. When your center passes all of the necessary inspections, the licensing specialist will issue your license.
If you open a Class A daycare center, you and your staff must complete at least 12 hours of continuing education each year in courses approved by the Louisiana department of Social Services. If your center is Class B, only three hours of continuing education is required, and can be completed through reading and videos.
If you are a felon, you can operate or work in a Class B daycare center in New Orleans if you have written approval from the parish and district attorney or the district judge.
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.