How to Open a Child Care Center
Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) is a FREE service to help you start and grow your child care business!
- 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:
- Licensed Child Care Center (CCC)
- Registered Child Development Home (CDH)
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Have an inspection done by the Iowa State Fire Marshal
- View State Fire Marshal requirements, typical code issues and contact information here
- Obtain city zoning approval for child care at the site
- Contact the Department of Human Services (DHS) for an application for licensed providers and send in when completed
- 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.
- Continue to work with a CCR&R Child Care Consultant
Things to Consider Before Opening a Child Care Business
- What is the need for a Child Care Center (CCC) in the area?
- What research has been done regarding operating/owning a child care business?
- What business practices do need to be considered? (start date, policies, liability insurance, contracts, taxes, for-profit vs non-profit, etc.)
- 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?
- What spaces are available that may work for a Child Care Center (CCC) in the area?
- What age children will be cared for?
- How many staff will need to be hired?
- Are there available employees in the community to keep the center fully staffed?
- What supplies will be needed to furnish classrooms?
- Has a budget been developed in regards to the proposed income?
Resources that may be Helpful with Starting a Child Care Center
- Board Member Roles & Responsibilities
- Center Business Plan Outline - First Children's Finance
- Center Director Requirements
- Center Packet Letter
- Director Compentencies
- Comprehensive overview of experienced, full-time director
- Tool for selecting key-functions to include in job description
- Fire Marshal Requirements for Centers - Iowa State Fire Marshal's Office
- Iowa Principles and Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence
- Licensing Rules Chapter 109 - Department of Human Services (DHS)
- Licensing Standards and Procedures Comm 204 - Department of Human Services (DHS)
- NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment
- Things to Consider before Opening a Center
Child Care Assistance (CCA)
For more information about accepting Child Care Assistance, click here.
For a list of resources that you might find helpful, click here.