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 - Center Director Requirements
  • 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

Starting a Child Care Center

If you are looking at opening a center, click here.

Required Forms - DHS

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.

Authorization for Release of Child and Dependent Adult Abuse Information - ID# 470-3301 (Spanish)

Record Check Evaluation - ID# 470-2310  (Spanish)

Licensing Regulation Checklist - ID# 470-3940

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

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

Suggested Forms - CCR&R

Action Plan

This is a universal tool for the provider and consultant which is applicable to continuous quality improvement actions: i.e. Department of Human Services (DHS) Referrals, Quality Rating System (QRS) Strategies, ChildNet Certifications or training key concepts.

Child Enrollment Information

Required information from DHS checklist, 109.9(2)a

Packet of required information to be kept in the children’s file for each child enrolled.

Child Injury - Incident Report Form

Required information for DHS Checklist, 109.10(10)

Child care staff use to document an injury or accident. One copy is to be kept in the child’s file and one copy given to the parent or guardian.

Child's File Checklist or Word format

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.9(2).

Checklist of required information to be included in each child's file.

Consent & Release  (Spanish)

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.9(2)d and f.

Parent consent and release form addressing child pick up, trips, transportation, swimming, photos and other.

Dietary Modification Request Form

Required information for DHS Checklist, 109.15(3)a/Infant, 109.10(1)a/Preschool, 109.10(1)b/School-age.
If a participant needs to avoid specific foods for a medical reason, a prescribing licensed medial professional must document the diet modifications and sign this form.

Emergency Practice Drill Evaluation Tool

Required information for DHS checklist, 109.10(15)b.

Information should be readily accessible.

Emergency Practice Drills Record

Required information for DHS Checklist, 109.10(15)b.

Fire and tornado drills are practiced monthly and documentation kept on file for the current year and previous year.

Employee, Substitute, Volunteer Statement

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.6(7) and 109.9(1)a.

Signed statements regarding convictions, abuse, communicable diseases & controlled substences.

Equipment Check Form

Required information for DHS Checklist, 109.10(15)b.

Information should be readily accessible for equipment checks of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher and evacuation equipment.

Healthy Child Care Iowa (HCCI) link to website

Examples of forms and other available information on this site include:

Breastfeeding support, child illness guide, diapering procedures, electrical outlet safety, exposure plan, first aid checklist, handwashing instructions, infant daily report, injury report, mandatory reporting site poster, sleep safe policy, etc.

Immunization Certificate - Provisional

When a Certificate of Immunization or Immunization Exempt Form are not available, a Provisional Certificate of Immunization can be used. Expiration date is usually 60 days. If the immunizations are further behind than can be caught up in 60 days, another provisional can be issued for an additional 60 days. As you can see on the record, a child must have received at least one dose of each of the required immunizations for this to be a valid option.

Immunization Exempt Form

Medical or Religious

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.10(1)c.

Form parents complete if they refuse to immunize their children because of religion or doctor recommendation.

Playground Inspection

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.11(3)d.

Professional Growth and Development Record

Fillable PD Record

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.7(2).

Record Check Process Directions

Record Check for SING

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.9(1)b.

Directions for conducting the SING (Iowa) check prior to hire and the FBI National Fingerpint Check before person's involvement in child care at the center.

*Documents are currently being updated and are not available at this time. Please connect with your Child Care Consultant for the latest regulations regarding fingerprints. 3/12/20

Safe Sleep ABC's

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.12(5)e.

Safe Sleep procedures for providers and parents.

Smoke Free Air Signs

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.10(11).

A direct link to the Iowa Department of Health Smoke Free Air Act information including a link to print signs.

Staff Files Checklist, in Word format

Required information from Department of Human Services (DHS) checklist, 109.7(1).

Tracking form from Department of Human Services (DHS).

Transporting Children

This link will take you to the Iowa Child Restraint Law document.

Sample Policies and Plans

Your program will benefit from having policies and plans to effectively communicate with parents and staff. The largest benefit of having policies and plans is to protect child care providers. The written policies identified here are required by 441 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 109. Please click here to learn more.


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.

Every Child Reads

This Iowa Department of Education series training provides insight about how to integrate literacy skills into a child care program. Due to the varied developmental needs, a separate series is presented for providers who care for children birth to 3 and 3 to 5.

Emergency Preparedness

Resource page only - Iowa law requires child care providers to have a written emergency plan in place by October 1, 2016. Emergency plans must include procedures for 6 key areas. There are templates and tools available for child care providers to help meet your program's needs. You are not required to use any of the templates and tools offered, although the tools and templates will help you meet requirements in Iowa law.

Essentials Preservice Series

This series offers providers important information on ten key health and safety topics and was developed to meet Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) professional development requirements.

Environment Rating Scale

This series is a nationally recognized tool used to assess and improve the quality of center, school age, infant/toddler and family child care programs. Workshops offer step-by-step guidance for making helpful changes that can make a real difference in the work that is done with young children.

Foundations of Understanding Trauma

This basic orientation training will focus on behavior shaping through a trauma-informed lens. It will use the latest science from multiple fields to support the practice of staff engaged in helping children overcome challenges that are not of their own doing or choice. Changing the question of “what’s wrong with you” to “what happened to you?”
Iowa Early Learning Standards

This series addresses developmental areas of young children, which are based on research and theory in early care and education. It is a guide in understanding how children learn, as well as the importance of play, routine and relationships in regards to their development.

Medication Administration This course is designed to address the principles and skills needed to administer medications to children.
Mandatory Child Abuse Reporter Training

Providers are required to attend this Iowa-specific training to learn how to identify the signs of child abuse and the steps needed to report incidents. 


Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAPSACC) is available to providers as a tool to set goals and implement healthy activities in their programs. Training and on-site consultation is provided.


The Physical Activity Learning Session (PALS) training is for early childhood providers to learn the best practices of physical activity for children birth to five.

Positive Behavioral Support Systems

This training is an effective, evidence-based approach for supporting social competence and addressing challenging behavior in young children.

Program for Infant & Toddler Care of Iowa

This training approach equates good care with training infant/toddler providers who are preparing themselves and the environment so that infants can learn.

School-age Matters

School-age children have a specific set of developmental needs that are different from younger children. Attendees will learn the skills needed to effectively adapt their programs to accommodate this age group.

Universal Precautions

In this training, providers will learn what can be done to protect the children in their care from the spread of germs and disease. Additionally, they will gain an understanding of the importance of post-exposure policies and procedures. 

Welcome to Child Care

The basics of child care are the cornerstone in optimizing quality experiences for children. This training focuses on a provider's role in a center setting that includes understanding the importance of professional ethics, play and a safe, structured environment.

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!

Other Program Referrals

Helpful Links

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


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