A Child Care Center (CCC) or a Preschool is a commercial facility providing child care for many children.

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) has a Child Care Center Handbook to help centers navigate through the licensing process. The handbook is a helpful document for centers that gives information on CCR&R, staff to child ratios, training, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), parent referrals, child care assistance, Quality Rating System (QRS) and more. CCR&R provides training and consultation services that support the child care provider’s ability to achieve and maintain regulatory status in good standing and work to achieve and maintain performance at higher quality levels in Iowa’s Quality Rating System (QRS). Please contact your Child Care Consultant with any questions you may have.

A Child Care Center is:

  • Licensed with Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • May or may not have a signed Child Care Assistance (CCA) Provider Agreement with Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • Must implement Comm 204
  • Department of Human Services (DHS) will complete annual inspections

Child Care Center (CCC) regulation guidelines from Department of Human Services (DHS), which explains the minimum requirements for each category.

  • Comm 204 - Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Care Center (CCC) Licensing Standards and Procedures
    • Comm 204 Section 109.6 - Break out for Personnel Section pgs 45-64: Center Director Requirements, On-Site Supervisor Requirements, Director & On-Site Supervisor Functions Combined, Volunteers & Substitutes, Record Checks & Evaluations
  • Chapter 109 - Licensing Rules
  • Chapter 170 - Department of Human Services (DHS) Requirements for Child Care Assistance (CCA)
    • For Child Care Assistance (CCA) forms and information, click here
  • To access the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Care Provider Portal, click here
Working Together

Starting a Child Care Center

If you are looking at opening a center, click here.  Need help with recruitment & retention, click here.


Required Forms - DHS

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Checklist of Items to be Submitted for Initial Licensure

This is a preliminary list of items that must be submitted and reviewed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) for the initial license of a preschool or Child Care Center (CCC) found in Comm 204.

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Child Care Center Record Check Guide from DHS

DHS reviews use of forms DCI-77, 470-3301 and 470-2310

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Criminal History Record Check Request Form

DCI-77 State of Iowa form

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Authorization for Release of Child and Dependent Adult Abuse Information

ID# 470-3301

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Record Check Evaluation

ID# 470-2310

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Licensing Regulation Checklist

ID# 470-3940

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Provider Physical Exam Report

ID# 470-5152 (Acceptable physical examinations shall be documented on form 470-5152 per checklist 109.9(1)d.)

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Required Written Policies and Procedures - Suggested Content

Written policies required by 441 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 109.

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Qualification Point Charts

Documentation to support that the center director and on-site supervisor meet the qualifications outlined in 441 IAC 106.6(1) and (2).

Center Director » On-Site Supervisor » School-age Director » School-age On-Site Supervisor »

Child Abuse

Department of Human Services (DHS) Report of Suspected Child Abuse - ID# 470-0665

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Suggested Forms - CCR&R


Iowa Professional Workforce Registry (i-PoWeR) is an online tool where child care professionals can locate and enroll for Department of Human Services (DHS) approved professional development. To access and enroll for Department of Human Services (DHS) approved professional development opportunities, please see their website.

The center director, on-site supervisor and staff counted as part of the staff ratio, shall meet minimum staff training requirements as defined in Comm 204 beginning on page 60. To assist with tracking staff required records and mandatory training, please view recommended staff files form.

Following minimum training listed above, additional staff training requirements are defined in Comm 204 beginning on page 64.

To view a complete listing of core trainings offered by CCR&R, click here.

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ is a nationally recognized credential earned by those working in the early care and education field. To learn more about the steps to achieve your CDA, click here.

Suggested Training

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) requires additional training during each licensing period. Minimum health and safety training may be required prior to the five year period if content has significant changes that warrant the training be renewed. CCR&R offers low- or no-cost training designed to help early childhood professionals meet registration requirements and become more successful in developing skills for working with children and families. Additional trainings approved by DHS can be accessed on the DHS website here.

Suggested Training Links

Update Your File

Having accurate information on your child care program in the CCR&R database allows us to assist in marketing your child care program to parents looking for child care. To match your program to the needs of families we need to know important information like hours of operation, ages served, changes in phone numbers or email address. Update your program file here.

Quality Rating System

Iowa's Quality Rating System (QRS) is a voluntary child care rating system for Child Care Centers (CCC). The Quality Rating System (QRS) was developed to raise the quality of child care in Iowa, raise the number of children in high-quality child care settings and to educate parents about quality in child care. To learn more about becoming a QRS-rated provider, click here.

Communities of Practice

Join facilitated discussions driven by YOU! CCR&R is committed to improving communication with child care providers across Iowa. It is through the sharing of information and experiences that participants can learn from each other and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally.

Communities of Practice, also known as “CoPs”, are groups of people who share a passion for something they do and want to learn how to do it better as they interact. CoPs allow attendees to learn and collaborate as content is driven by the participants.

View our statewide event calendar here!

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Other Program Referrals

Helpful Links

For a list of resources that you might find helpful, click here.