Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) is a FREE service to help you start and grow your child care business!

CCR&R can...

  • Assist with finding a location for a center
  • Assist with meeting regulations for a Child Care Center (CCC)
  • Support providers through the process of the Department of Human Services (DHS) licensing application, trainings, fingerprints and business planning
  • Assist with quality improvement steps, i.e. room arrangement, behavior guidance, etc.
  • Provide business and financial resources
  • Provide on-site consultation and technical assistance via phone or email
  • Connect providers with other available resources
  • And much more!

In Iowa, child care is regulated by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS).

There are three basic child care settings:

  1. Licensed Child Care Center (CCC)
  2. Registered Child Development Home (CDH)
  3. Nonregistered Child Care Home (CCH) with or without a Child Care Assistance (CCA) agreement

In order to accept Child Care Assistance (CCA), providers must complete the Department of Human Services (DHS) application process.

Process Overview for Starting a Child Care Center (CCC)

  1. Obtain information regarding the need for a Child Care Center (CCC) in the community
    • CCR&R can help with providing statistical data and information regarding child care availability and need in your area
  2. Contact a CCR&R Recruitment & Retention Specialist in your area
    • CCR&R will guide you through the process of starting a business and support you along the way
  3. Find a site for the Child Care Center (CCC) and determine if any renovations need to be done OR create a building plan if building a new center
    • Do not purchase or sign a lease on the site until steps 4-6 are completed
  4. Have an inspection done by the Iowa State Fire Marshal
    • View State Fire Marshal requirements, typical code issues and contact information here
  5. Obtain city zoning approval for child care at the site
  6. Contact the Department of Human Services (DHS) for an application for licensed providers and send in when completed
    • Visit their website here to see forms, including the checklist of items to be submitted for initial licensure
    • View the Department of Human Services (DHS) Consultant Map for Licensing Consultant contact information
  7. Prepare the center for a Department of Human Services (DHS) inspection, hire and train staff, purchase supplies, prepare files for children/staff, prepare policies and procedures, etc.
  8. Continue to work with a CCR&R Child Care Consultant

Things to Consider Before Opening a Child Care Business

  1. What is the need for a Child Care Center (CCC) in the area?
  2. What research has been done regarding operating/owning a child care business?
  3. What business practices do need to be considered? (start date, policies, liability insurance, contracts, taxes, for-profit vs non-profit, etc.)
  4. What is your highest level of education and experience in child care? Do you meet the requirements for child care center directors or do you need to hire a director who does?
  5. What spaces are available that may work for a Child Care Center (CCC) in the area?
  6. What age children will be cared for?
  7. How many staff will need to be hired?
  8. Are there available employees in the community to keep the center fully staffed?
  9. What supplies will be needed to furnish classrooms?
  10. Has a budget been developed in regards to the proposed income?

Resources that may be Helpful with Starting a Child Care Center

Child Care Assistance (CCA)

For more information about accepting Child Care Assistance, click here.

Helpful Links

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