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Licensing Process for Child Care Providers

There are three kinds of child care programs:

  • Child development centers;
  • Child development homes, also called family child care homes, which care for up to six children in the provider’s home; and
  • Expanded child development homes, which care for between six to 12 children.

Almost all child care programs in the District of Columbia must be licensed. (There are some exemptions. Here is a list of programs that do not need a license.)

Licensing Process

To become licensed for the first time, a child care provider must go through the following process:

1. The provider completes the child development center or home licensing orientation. Completing an orientation in person or through the online licensing webinar is required prior to applying for a child care license.

2. A copy of your certificate must be submitted with your application. Certificates will only be given to those individuals who complete the session. Submitting an application prior to completing the required orientation may result in suspending the processing of the application until this requirement is met. To learn more about the licensing application and requirements, view the child development center orientation [PDF] or the child development home orientation [PDF].

3. The provider selects a location and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy or a Home Occupancy Permit from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Building and Land Regulation Administration, Zoning Division at 1100 Fourth St. SW, Second Floor. Your Certificate of Occupancy or a Home Occupancy Permit should include the following information: You must indicate child care center, the maximum number of infants and children to be cared for, hours of operation, and number of staff.

4. The provider completes a licensing orientation in person or through the online licensing webinar which requires successfully passing an accompanying quiz. The licensing orientation gives information and instructions for submitting an application.

5. The provider submits the following applicable forms to the Division of Early Learning, Licensing and Compliance Unit (LCU):

  • Child Development Center Application, application fee of $75, and all applicable forms which include the following (See 5 DCMR 103.4, 103.5, 108.2)
  • Documentation of completion of Criminal Background Checks and Child Protection Register Checks for applicant
  • Clean Hands Act Certification (Within thirty 30 days of the date the application is submitted)
  • Caregiver Qualifications (if hired by time of application)
  • Proof of insurance that includes a reasonable coverage (i.e. commercial general liability, umbrella “Follow Form” liability, sexual abuse and molestation liability, and vehicle liability)
  • Fire Safety Inspection Certification from DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS)
  • Lead-based Paint Certification or Clearance Report by Department of Energy and Environment
  • Notarized Building Use Agreement (if applicable)
  • Safe Evacuation Site with facility closure consent statement (if applicable)
  • If you are incorporated or plan to be incorporated, you must submit an original Certificate of Good Standing (valid for 30 days) from the DCRA, Corporation Division at 1100 Fourth Street, SW, Second Floor.

6. The licensing specialist contacts the provider, recommends tasks for initial inspection, and schedules the initial inspection.

7. The licensing specialist inspects the child development center or home. Learn what happens during an inspection visit.

8. If the licensing specialist determines that there are areas of non-compliance during the visit, a Statement of Deficiency (SOD) will be issued.

9. All areas of non-compliance cited during the inspection must be corrected/abated within the timeframe provided by the specialist on the SOD issued at the time of the inspection.

10. The licensing specialist schedules and conducts a follow-up inspection checking to ensure all areas of non-compliance have been corrected. If so, the provider passes the inspection.

11. The licensing specialist and program manager conduct a final visit. This visit is called a validation visit.

12. The provider receives a license. The license is good for three years and must be renewed every three years. View the licensing process flow [PDF].

Licensing Renewal Process

Child care licenses must be renewed every three years. The process for renewing a license is very similar to the process for getting a new license:

1. The provider submits a renewal application, fee, and all applicable forms no later than 90 days before the expiration date of the existing license. T

The provider submits the following applicable forms:

  • Documentation of completion of Criminal Background Checks using Fieldprint and Child
  • Protection Register Checks for applicant.
  • Clean Hands Act Certification (Within thirty 30 days of the date the application is submitted)
  • Proof of insurance that includes a reasonable coverage (i.e., commercial general liability, umbrella “Follow Form” liability, sexual abuse and molestation liability, and vehicle liability)
  • Fire Safety Inspection Certification from D.C Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS)
  • Notarized Building Use Agreement with required documentation (See 5A DCMR 103.5 (g)), if applicable
  • Safe Evacuation Site with facility closure consent statement (if applicable)

2. The application and all applicable forms are submitted to the Division of Early Learning, Licensing and Compliance Unit (LCU).

3. The licensing specialist contacts the provider, recommends tasks for renewal inspection and schedules the renewal inspection visit.  

4. The licensing specialist inspects the child development center or home. If the licensing specialist determines that there are areas of non-compliance during the visit, a Statement of Deficiency (SOD) will be issued. All areas of non-compliance cited during the inspection must be corrected/abated within the timeframe provided by the specialist on the SOD issued at the time of the inspection.

5. The licensing specialist schedules and conducts a follow-up inspection checking to ensure all areas of non-compliance have been corrected. If so, the provider passes the inspection.

6. The provider receives the renewed license, which is good for three year from the date of issue.

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