State Day Care Licensing

State requirements may vary.

Although some church daycare centers may qualify as license-exempt, it is a good idea to become familiar with the licensing requirements in your state. At the very least, these can serve as a guideline to the minimum acceptable standards of care. Being a licensed center also brings a measure of peace to the parents entrusting their children to your care.

While standards may vary from state-to-state, it is assumed that child safety is the driving principle behind the regulations. Here is a list of general guidelines to consider:


  • Age/education qualifications
  • Continuing education needs
  • Specific certification such as CPR, first aid, and the Heimlich maneuver
  • Child-to-caregiver ratios/maximum group size

General Program Requirements

  • Parent access during program hours
  • Balance of active and quiet activities – indoor/outdoor activities
  • Number of emergency exits
  • Emergency drills such as for fire or tornado
  • Equipment and play materials required
  • Daily cleaning/sanitization

Outdoor Play Area

  • Protected play area, including shade from sun
  • Play space must be visible to staff at all times
  • Equipment must be sturdy and in good repair
  • Protective surfaces under play equipment in case of falls

Nutrition and Meals

  • Menus posted
  • Meals and snacks meeting nutritional guidelines
  • Hours of care regulate number of snacks/meals

Napping and Sleeping

  • Hours and bedding dependent on child’s age and hours of care

Physical Space

  • Toileting facilities must be readily accessible to children
  • Hot and cold running water must be provided
  • Hazardous materials must be locked away

Guidance and Discipline

  • Parents must be given a copy of the guidance and discipline policy.
  • The following are prohibited:
  • Corporal punishment
  • Threatened or actual withdrawal of food, rest, or use of the bathroom
  • Abusive or profane language
  • Public or private humiliation
  • Emotional abuse, including shaming, rejecting, terrorizing or isolating a child

This is not an exhaustive list. State-specific requirements may be found at

Karen Arneson has a degree in Early Childhood Education and Care and has observed in numerous daycare facilities. She also volunteers as Head Teacher/Coordinator of Preschool Ministries at her local church.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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