Professional child care is always in demand and hundreds of child care centers operate in the Chicago area to meet that demand. Before you can start caring for children however, you need a license. The City of Chicago requires that you have a day care license to operate child care centers serving three or more children unless you’re a home-based center. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services oversees licensed day care centers and homes throughout the Chicago area. So whether you’re home-based or operating a dedicated center, you’ll need state licensing.
Obtain a federal employer identification number from the IRS and a State of Illinois business tax number from the State of Illinois Revenue Office.
Gather all documents required for filing for a child care license. These documents include any articles of incorporation, if applicable, and proof of ownership or lease for the property that you’re using for the day care center. Obtain identity information for all owners and managers of the child care center including a valid, government-issued identification card (such as a driver's license), home address and social security number.
Perform a criminal background check on owners, corporate officers or anyone owning more than a 25 percent interest in the business. Include in the background checks, any employees of the child care center, and any adults in a home-based child care center who may have unsupervised access to the children. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services may require background checks on anyone in a home based center that has access to the children under care if the individual is 13 years of age or older.
Check that the business site is zoned for child care use or you may not permitted to operate your center at that location.
Contact the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to request a pre-licensing inspection. The inspection is free and will go over your chosen child care center site to determine if any changes are necessary before establishing the center at the location. Make any necessary corrections to the site before application.
Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection City of Chicago City Hall 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 800 Chicago, IL 60602 312-744-6060 www.cityofchicago.org/consumerservices
Apply for the child care license in person at the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Make sure you bring all required information on owners, management and the company when you apply. A fee is required with amounts based on the age and number of children expected at the center.
Wait for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to conduct an on-site inspection. The Department of Public Health, the Fire Prevention Bureau and the Department of Buildings will all inspect your child care site. After a successful review of provided information and passing inspection, the license is issued by the city and is good for a two-year period.
Download the requirements for state licensing from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Follow the requirements and make sure your child care center meets all requirements before applying with the state. Obtaining the Chicago license generally ensures that you meet the required standards for a day care center.
Apply for a state-issued child care license with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Wait for the state to conduct any necessary inspections of your center and to review the application details. If all details are in order and the site passes the requirements, the Department of Children and Family Services will issue a license to operate, valid for three years.
Child care licensing is not required for children more than six-years-old.