Licensure is usually a legal requirement for operating a childcare facility. State, county, or local governments license childcare providers that meet minimum governmental standards for health and safety. In some states, for example, the state licenses commercial childcare centers and the county licenses family (in-home) childcare providers. Licensure does not distinguish the good from the mediocre. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care offers the licensure requirements for any state in the United States.
Most childcare providers are licensed. Childcare providers who care for a small number of children do not require licensure. In most states, a person does not need a license to use their own home to care for one other family's children, even if there are multiple children involved. Using Minnesota as an example, here are regulations that state's family (in-home) childcare providers must follow:
- Attend large group orientation and small group orientation
- Receive an information packet
- Provide references
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pass home and fire safety inspection
- Satisfactorily complete an interview with a social worker.
The number of children permitted in a childcare home depends on the type of license the operator has. When interpreting the list below, be aware that the total number of children includes the provider's own children as well as those school-age children under age 11 years who attend part-time.
- A License: Care for 10 children (good for one year only)
- C1 License: Care for 10 children
- C2 License: Care for 12 children
- C3 license: Care for 14 children with another helper