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How to Start an In-Home Daycare With DHS in Oklahoma

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As the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will tell you, "child care is a business." Like any business, there will be starting and operating costs. Oklahoma state law requires anyone caring for children in their home to have a license (unless you are only caring for relatives' children or just babysitting occasionally). Oklahoma parents have expectations for child care facilities, including safety, education and reasonable fees. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services' Child Care Service division is the licensing agency that strives to make daycare facilities safe and successful.

Access the Internet and visit okdhs.org. Click on Programs/Services in the menu. Click on "Child Care" under Children/Youth Services. Under Services, click on "Child Care Licensing." Click on "Licensing requirements" under Other Information. Finally, click on "Licensing Requirements for Family Child Care Homes and Large Child Care Homes (OKDHS Pub. No. 86-104)." Print the requirements if you wish.

Return to the "Child Care Licensing" page and click on "Licensing Services." Click on "How do I open a family child care home?" Read "Step 1: License" to begin the process for obtaining a license for opening a family child care home under Oklahoma's Child Care Facilities Licensing Act. Part of the application process involves criminal background checks on all household members 18 or older from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). If you have been a resident in the state of Oklahoma for less than a year, an out-of-state criminal background check is also required.

Once a permit is recommended and approved by the licensing supervisor and the Oklahoma Child Care Services State Office, a one-star rating is automatically entered for your home day care. Now it is necessary to learn more about the rating system. Read the "Step 2: Stars Criteria" section at the okdhs.org website.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) uses a tiered system of quality and reimbursement known as "Reaching for the Stars," which provides incentives for programs that meet the "star" criteria, according to the OKDHS website. Consult the Stars Outreach Specialist for the county in which the home day care will be located for more personalized information about how to improve your star rating.

In Oklahoma, many families need financial assistance for paying for child care. To be able to accept payment from OKDHS, child care facilities, including home daycare centers, must have a contract with OKDHS. According to the OKDHS website, before a contract can be signed and approved, providers must have an OKDHS permit or license and have attained at least a one-star rating. For other criteria related to obtaining a contract, read "Step 3: Contract with OKDHS for Child Care Subsidy." You have likely already completed some of the required steps as you obtained your child care license. Because OKDHS uses an electronic method of reporting attendance and obtaining payment, it is important to have a land-line phone.

Follow all the licensing steps, obtain and improve your home daycare's "star" rating, and obtain a contract with OKDHS. These are the most important steps in opening a home daycare facility. Because there is training involved for those working with the children, in addition to the applications and background checks, there will be some time between your decision to open a home daycare and actually starting the work. OKDHS is available to answer any questions and provide guidance, including obtaining the required training.

Tip

There are many resources in Oklahoma and online to assist with running a home daycare facility. Be sure to ask your OKDHS worker for assistance with finding them.

Warning

The cost of bringing a home into compliance for operating a home day care may be great. Be aware that your profits in the first year or two may not be what you are hoping. There are several factors that go into determining the amount OKDHS will pay for child care subsidies. Go to okdhs.org and locate the rate schedule in the Library section of the Child Care Provider Information page.

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About the Author

Pamela Charboneau has been a freelance writer since 2008, covering travel, gardening, cooking, canning, genealogy, business administration and home renovation. She has an associate's degree in computer information systems from Connors State College in Warner, Okla., and is a graduate of the Long Ridge Writers Group program.