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How to Become a Licensed Childcare Provider in Pennsylvania

Do you want to become a licensed childcare provider in Pennsylvania? If YES, here is a 4-step guide on how to obtain a childcare license in Pennsylvania. Home – based child care in Pennsylvania costs an average of $155 a week per child, as against $233 at larger child care centres. Meanwhile, the smallest child care providers also are the ones most likely to fall outside minimum state health and safety standards, putting children at risk for harm and undermining state and federal efforts to improve child care quality.

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are specific regulations pertaining to home day care providers. Federal data suggests there are thousands of unlicensed home child care centres operating in Pennsylvania, putting children’s lives at risk and hurting the economy and government efforts to improve child care quality. State regulators don’t know if these child care businesses are meeting minimum health and safety standards because no one is checking on them until someone complains.

Which Agency is in Charge of Registering Daycare Centers in Pennsylvania?

In 2014, the federal law that oversees and provides funding for child care assistance (Child Care Development Block Grant –  CCDBG) was reauthorized for the first time since 1996. In an effort to support families with access to safe, reliable child care, the law required family child care homes and friend/neighbour caregivers receiving child care subsidy to earn certification by November 2016.

The Pennsylvania Bureau of Certification Services is charged with the regulation of all child care centres, group day care and family day care homes in Pennsylvania. The Certification Bureau receives inquiries regarding a variety of topics, including:

  • The requirements and process for opening a child care facility,
  • Statutes and regulations for operating a child care facility,
  • The status and compliance history of specific facilities, and
  • The complaints regarding child care facilities.

Child care providers operating a program for four or more unrelated children must be licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. The Department regulates three types of child care facilities:

  • A child care facility in which seven or more children who are not related to the operator.
  • A Group Child Care Home in which seven through 12 children of various ages or in which seven through 15 children from 4th grade through 15 years of age who are not related to the operator. A group child care home must have a certificate of compliance (“license”) from DHS in order to legally operate, and finally
  • A family child care facility located in a home in which four, five, or six children who are not related to the caregiver receive. A family child care home must have a certificate of compliance (“license”) from DHS in order to legally operate.

How to Obtain Childcare Provider License in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a home-based child care provider can take care of an unlimited number of family members, as well as three children who are not family, without requiring a license by law. The only caveat is they cannot care for more than two infants and three toddlers under age 3 at the same time. Licensed home child – care providers can watch up to six children who are not related to them. The licensing requirements in the state are extensive.

1. Meet all requirements and complete orientation

Home child care operators must complete a two – part orientation within 12 months before opening a business; if an applicant fails to open within a year, the process restarts. Also note that providers must be a high school graduate or equivalent. FBI and state police criminal background checks and child abuse clearances are required for anyone over 18 living in the home; staff must be licensed in CPR and first aid, and are required to complete annual child development training and more.

You will then have to attend an orientation session for family childcare providers through the state of Pennsylvania. Note that this training must be completed in the 12 – month period before you open your childcare. The session will go over the specific application process and standards set forth by the state of Pennsylvania.

2. Fill and submit application

Complete the application for your home to become licensed. Note that you will need to submit a background check for yourself and any adult family members that live in your home. You will also need to pass a health assessment and TB screening test. Applicants may also be mandated to acquire variances or other special approvals from local municipalities. A local use and occupancy permit is required for a state child care license.

3. Get ready for business

At this point, prepare your home or business location for the business. Note that you will need to install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your location. Make sure to have a first aid kit around, and all hazardous materials and medicines should be locked up and out of the reach of children. Also consider buying toys and supplies for your child care home.

Make sure you create and have age appropriate toys in both indoor and outdoor areas. Art and craft supplies should be included in your supplies. Sleeping mats or blankets need to be purchased for each child in your care. After that, put together a schedule of daily activities that you will complete. Have it in mind that this schedule should include both indoor and outdoor playtime as well as meals and naptime.

If you are planning on doing early educational activities such as circle time or crafts with the children, you should include these times in the schedule. It needs to be posted where parents can see it each day. Then establish a record keeping system that houses the contact information and medical history for each child in your care. You should also keep a record of fire drills, and your daily activities. If you have any staff, their medical history and background forms need to be kept as well.

4. Pass Inspection and Get Your License

Then pass the home inspection to receive your license. You will be subjected to a number of inspections. Even after receiving your license, expect inspection at least once or twice a year. Be sure you always meet certain conditions, you can be sure that you will pass an inspection whether it is scheduled or not.

The inspector will want to see a tidy and clean home for children. The play area outside is expected to be properly fenced and protected. Also cover empty electrical outlets. Keep wires safely out of site and cover stove knobs if possible. Once you pass the initial inspection, expect to receive your license.


Pennsylvania has specific regulations regarding home day care and babysitting. You must become licensed if you care for children in your own home. If you care for three or fewer children, you can operate without becoming licensed, but if you are caring for children besides your own, you must also include your children in the number.

Be prepared for inspection at any time by the state, and comply with training requirements and regulations as dictated by the State of Pennsylvania and provided by the Department of Public Welfare.