Federal guidelines require states to put standards in place to protect the health and safety of children in daycare environments. In response, each state sets its own regulations and requirements for daycare centers and home daycare. The standards vary by state, with some states providing little or no oversight to family daycare homes.
All but 12 states require a criminal history check for family daycare providers. Exceptions include Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Vermont. Approximately half of the states require a state or federal fingerprint check. Thirty-five states require providers and substitutes to receive clearance from the child abuse registry.
Roughly 50 percent of states require home daycare providers to maintain first aid and CPR certifications. Depending on where you live, you may be required to receive training hours in other areas, including child development, educational activities, health and safety, child guidance and business practices, before licensing. The number of required initial training hours varies from zero to 60, based on where you live. Providers in all but 11 states must receive annual training hours to maintain certification. Ongoing annual training hour requirements range from four to 24.
All but 16 states perform a home inspection before issuing a home daycare license. Depending on where you live, you may also need to pass a fire marshal inspection, provide specific toys and equipment, follow specific meal patterns, receive medical clearance and pass unannounced inspections. The maximum enrollment for home daycares varies by state. Enrollment caps per provider in regulated states range from six to 10 children.
To get the specific requirements for your state's home daycare regulations, contact your licensing agency and request a copy of the standards. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education provides an online listing of each state agency's contact information. If you're considering opening a home-based daycare, there are tax advantages to meeting your state's regulations, as well as legal obligations.