Requirements to Open a DayCare Center vs. a Home DayCare

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Starting a daycare, whether it’s a daycare center or a home daycare, is a fulfilling venture that requires careful planning and preparation. Each comes with its unique set of requirements, which can vary significantly. This article provides an in-depth look into the prerequisites for opening a daycare center versus a home daycare.

Understanding the difference: Daycare center vs. home daycare

Daycare centers and home daycares share the common goal of providing care for children, but they operate in fundamentally different settings. Daycare centers are usually standalone facilities that accommodate a larger number of children. In contrast, home daycares operate out of the provider’s residence and typically serve fewer children.

Requirements for opening a daycare center

Obtaining a license is an essential step for opening a daycare center. This process involves having required daycare certifications and meeting specific state regulations regarding safety, health, and educational programming.

>> Learn More: How Much Does It Cost to Open a Home Daycare?

Staffing requirements

Daycare centers must hire a certain number of staff members based on the number and age of the children they serve. Staff qualifications vary by state but typically include a minimum age, education level, and training in early childhood education.

Facility and safety requirements

Daycare centers must meet strict facility and safety standards. These standards often include regulations on space per child, indoor and outdoor play areas, and safety equipment like fire extinguishers and first-aid kits.

Health and nutrition requirements

Most states require daycare centers to provide meals and snacks that meet specific nutritional standards. Additionally, centers must follow health practices like regular handwashing and sanitizing toys and surfaces.

Curriculum and learning requirements

Daycare centers are often required to follow a state-approved curriculum that supports children’s developmental needs.

Insurance requirements

Daycare centers must have daycare insurance policy, in which liability coverage is mandatory. Daycare liability insurance covers potential injuries or accidents that occur on the premises. They may also need commercial property insurance for their building and contents.

Requirements for opening a home daycare

Just like daycare centers, home daycares also require licensing. However, some states offer exceptions for small home daycares caring for a limited number of children.

Staffing requirements

In most cases, the owner of a home daycare is the sole caregiver. However, if the home daycare grows, additional staff may be required, and they must meet state-specified qualifications. The common requirement in all states is that if you look after more than 8 kids, you’ll need to have at least one assistant. The common ratio is 8 kids per one full-time daycare staff. 

Home and safety requirements

Home daycares must pass home safety inspections that check for potential hazards, safe sleep spaces, and required safety equipment.

Health and nutrition requirements

While home daycares must also follow health and nutrition guidelines, these may be less strict compared to daycare centers.

Curriculum and learning requirements

Even though a formal curriculum may not be required for home daycares, they are encouraged to provide developmentally appropriate learning activities.

Insurance requirements

Home daycares need to have daycare liability insurance, and they may also need to update their homeowner’s insurance to include business coverage. Home daycares are often advised to obtain home-based business insurance coverage. This covers both liability and commercial property insurance in one policy. 

Comparing the requirements: Daycare center vs. home daycare

While both daycare centers and home daycares have a common goal, the requirements for each can differ. Daycare centers usually have more stringent requirements due to their scale, while home daycares, with their smaller size and residential location, may face less strict rules. However, no matter the setting, the safety and welfare of the children are the primary concern.

Below are the comparison of requirements between daycare centers and home daycare: 

Daycare centerHome daycare
Space requirementsLarge commercial space requiredPart of a home is used
Number of childrenCan accommodate more childrenLimited to fewer children
Staff requirementsMore staff requiredCan often be run by an individual or couple
Start-up costsHigher due to facility and staffing costsLower because it uses existing space
Regulatory requirementsMore stringent, may require more inspectionsTypically less stringent
LicensingRequired, stricter licensing processRequired, though the process may be simpler
Revenue potentialGreater due to more capacityLower due to fewer children
InsuranceHigher liability and commercial property coverage neededLower coverage may be sufficient

Please note that the specifics can vary greatly depending on your state, city, and even neighborhood regulations. Always check with local and state authorities to ensure you meet all requirements.

Considerations for choosing between a daycare center and home daycare

Choosing between opening a daycare center and a home daycare largely depends on your resources, goals, and personal preferences. While daycare centers can cater to more families and generate more revenue, they also require a significant upfront investment, more staffing, and stricter regulations. Home daycares, on the other hand, are typically less expensive to start and operate, but they also serve fewer children and generate less revenue.

Requirements to open a home daycare in California 

In California, home-based daycares are regulated by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). To operate a home-based daycare in California, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Complete 16 hours of training in child development and first aid/CPR.
  • Have your home inspected by the CDSS.
  • Obtain a license from the CDSS.

In addition to the general requirements listed above, you may also need to obtain additional certifications depending on the specific type of daycare business you are opening. For example, if you are opening a preschool, you may need to be certified to teach specific subjects such as math or science.

Requirements to open a home daycare in Texas 

In Texas, home-based daycares are regulated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). To operate a home-based daycare in Texas, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Complete 24 hours of training in child development and first aid/CPR.
  • Have your home inspected by DFPS.
  • Obtain a license from DFPS.

Requirements to open a home daycare in Florida 

In Florida, home-based daycares are regulated by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). To operate a home-based daycare in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Complete 40 hours of training in child development and first aid/CPR.
  • Have your home inspected by DCF.
  • Obtain a license from DCF.

Frequently asked questions

What qualifications do I need to open a daycare center or home daycare?

The qualifications required can vary by state but usually include a minimum age, a high school diploma or equivalent, and specific training in early childhood education. For daycare centers, a degree in early childhood education or a related field may be required, especially for director positions.

What degree do you need to have to open a home daycare or a daycare center? 

The educational requirements to open a daycare center or home daycare can vary significantly by state and by the type of daycare.

For a daycare center, it’s common for the director or owner to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a closely related field. This is not only to meet licensing requirements but also to provide a high-quality educational environment for the children.

For a home daycare, the requirements are typically less stringent. Often, a high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum requirement. Some states may also require some form of training or certification in early childhood education, CPR, and first aid.

It’s important to note that even if a degree is not required, having one in a related field can make your daycare more attractive to parents. It demonstrates that you have formal education and training in child development, curriculum planning, and other relevant areas.

Remember, always check with your state and local licensing agencies to determine the specific educational requirements in your area. It’s also a good idea to check if there are any continuing education requirements to maintain your daycare license.

Do I need a specific type of home to open a home daycare?

Your home needs to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children. It must pass a home safety inspection and have adequate space for children to play and rest. Some states also require home daycares to have a fenced outdoor play area.

Can I open a daycare without a license?

Operating a daycare without a license is illegal in most cases. Some states do offer exceptions for small home daycares caring for a limited number of children. However, it’s essential to understand your state’s laws before starting a daycare.

What kind of insurance do I need to open a daycare?

At a minimum, you’ll need liability insurance, which covers potential injuries or accidents that occur at your daycare. Depending on your situation, you may also need property insurance, vehicle insurance (if you transport children), and workers’ compensation insurance (if you have employees).

How much does it cost to open a daycare?

The cost to open a daycare can vary widely based on many factors, including whether you’re opening a daycare center or home daycare, your location, the size of your facility, the number of children you plan to serve, and the amount of renovation or remodeling needed to meet licensing requirements.


Opening a daycare, whether it’s a center or a home daycare, is a significant undertaking that requires meeting numerous requirements. It’s crucial to do your research, understand your state’s regulations, and prepare thoroughly to ensure the safety and well-being of the children you’ll care for. By meeting these requirements, you’ll be well on your way to creating a nurturing and enriching environment for children.

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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