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What Certifications Do You Need to Open a Daycare?

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Owning and managing a daycare center can be a rewarding experience. You will get the opportunity to watch children learn, grow and blossom into beautiful little butterflies. Please remember, planning and operating an early-learning facility will require a lot of patience, dedication and energy. For starters, daycare centers in most states are required to be licensed and abide to other licensing requirements such as fire inspections, zoning laws, health regulations and safety codes. Since laws vary state to state, the Small Business Administration suggests you contact your local child-care licensing agency and ask for specific requirements. It's essential to stay on top of these codes. If not, it can possibly result in a penalty or suspension of your license.

Basic Steps

Starting off, you will have to get in contact with local inspectors for sanitation, building, fire and zoning codes. Next, arrange for inspectors to survey your building. The inspectors will make known all the requirements you must meet.

First Aid and CPR Certification

Most states will require a percentage of daycare staff to have CPR certification. Even if it’s not mandatory, the skills and understanding learned for taking these training courses will help you feel confident in handling a child choking or providing assistance to wound.

Health and Safety Requirements

Daycare staff should undergo an annual physical check-up to make sure they are capable of carrying out job duties. Having immunizations records (both child and adult) on hand and ready for review is also a plus (even if they are not required). All daycare personnel should be screened. This procedure may involve fingerprinting to check their criminal background.

Facility Requirements

Daycare facilities need lots of room for children to roam free and explore without hazards. Measurements may vary state to state, but a specific number of square feet is needed per child. These measurements are required for both indoors and outdoors. Other necessary amenities are mandatory such as good lighting, ventilation and plumbing, fenced play area, eating and food preparation areas and heating and air conditioning. Daycares usually have at least one toilet and sink for every 15 children. Separate toilets are required for staff. You may also have to obtain a lead test inspection report. However, everything really boils down to what your state requires.

Child-Staff Ratios

Overcrowded daycare classrooms are considered unsafe and hamper the education process. Most states require that a minimum number of daycare staff be present in the classroom for a specified number of children. Child-to-staff ratios change based on the age of the children.

Zoning Regulations

Check with your local government to find out if the type of child-care services you are providing is allowed in the area in which you plan on locating. There may be restrictions, so make sure you check.

Education Background

The minimal credentials needed to work in a daycare center may vary. Usually only a high school diploma or GED is required. However, added child-care experience is a bonus daycare facilities look for. Some may require child-care teachers to have an associate degree in early childhood education or a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) license. Typically, the director of a daycare center must have two years experience in early child-care education, a degree in the field or full teacher certification.


Currently based in Georgia, Ivory Adams has written health- and healing-related articles for over five years. Her articles have been published in "The Observer Newspaper." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

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