How to Become a Certified Washington State Child Care Provider

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All individuals providing regularly-scheduled, ongoing and professional child care in Washington state must get a license from the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL). Even if you plan to care for only a few children in your own home, you must obtain DEL licensure. As of 2010, the DEL licensed more than 7,400 child care centers and home child care providers. DEL officers work with you throughout the licensing process to help you get your application in order and prepare your facility or home to offer child care. However, if all you provide is occasional, temporary child care for friends, neighbors or relatives, DEL licensing is not required.

Attend an orientation session with the Washington State DEL. You must attend one to begin the licensing process. You will learn about the process, resources to help you through and training options (see Resources).

Contact the Washington State Child Care Resource and Referral Network. This organization can help you with your license application, particularly the building of your business plan (if applicable) (see Resources).

Complete and submit your application. You will find out exactly what to include with your application at your orientation session. In general, you need to include a consent to a background check, copies of your photo identification and social insurance card and resume. You must also have three people, not relatives, send reference letters to the DEL attesting to your good character, Again, required documentation can differ, depending on your situation. You can get more detailed information on what you must include at your orientation session. Submit your application to your nearest DEL office (see Resources).

Undergo a facility inspection. If applicable, the DEL will inspect your home or other facility where you plan to offer child care. You may need to make changes based on the DEL assessment.

Complete additional training. All licensed child care providers must get additional training in CPR, first aid and HIV/AIDS. You can find these courses at American Red Cross locations and community colleges.