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How to Open a Preschool in Michigan

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A solid education in early childhood development and years of experience in the childcare industry have prepared you to open a preschool; the perseverance and discipline required to build your career will serve you well navigating Michigan’s rigorous licensing requirements and process. The application packet is extensive; containing nine documents, it can take weeks to complete. Expect to invest an additional three to six months waiting while the state completes the required investigations and inspections.

Find a location for your preschool. Michigan childcare licenses are issued to a specific person at a specific location. Contact the local zoning department to ensure the property can be operated as a preschool and have the property assessed for safety by an approved fire inspector before signing a lease.

Download and print the “Original Center Application Packet" from the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) website. Applicants are requested to read: “Licensing Rules for Childcare Centers” and “The Childcare Organization Act” before starting their application. Both publications are available from DHS.

Schedule the required fire safety, playground and health inspections of your preschool facility. Michigan law mandates that playground inspectors are certified by either the National Playground Safety Institute or the National Program for Playground Safety. Similarly fire inspectors must be on DHS’ approved list, which is included in the childcare application packet. The environmental health inspection request is also provided. The results of the facility inspections are reported to the local DHS licensing office.

Order your fingerprints and background check from a Live Scan vendor licensed by the Michigan State Police. Complete the childcare application packet and make copies of the documents for your records. Mail your packet and application fee to DHS cashier’s office in Lansing. Michigan childcare application fees are based on the number of children to be served: fewer than 20 children is $150 as of 2011, more than 101 children is $300. Refer to the childcare application packet to determine the fee applicable to your preschool.

Interview for staff; potential caregivers and assistants are required to pass background checks to be eligible for hire. Ensure minimum education requirements are met; director must have a minimum 18 hours early childhood education credits, caregivers at least 10. Caregivers and assistants are required to participate in CPR and first-aid training; assistants must also be trained in prevention of sudden infant death syndrome. You are ready to open your preschool as soon as the Michigan Department of Human Services issues your license.


Based in Arlington, Texas, Michelle Diane has been writing business articles for six years. Her work has appeared in newspapers nationwide and on diverse digital outlets including Bounty, Breathe Again Magazine and LexisNexis. She is a University of Texas graduate and a presidential member of the National Society of Leadership.