Arizona Child Care Education Child Care Center Licensing in Arizona

From a recent survey, 54.3% of women are part of the labor force in the state of Arizona. This includes more than 400,000 mothers, both single and married, with kids under the age of 18. These working mothers require the use of Child Care facilities and centers to provide their children with adequate care and supervision in their absence.   

There are several different types of facilities that will cater to working parents in providing Child Care. These include home family care and center-based care. 

  • Center-Based Care: A center-based care provides daycare facilities for children in groups; they can be sponsored by churches and universities, and can also belong to independent owners. 
  • Center-Based Infant Care: A center-based care may further be specific to only a particular age group of children, such as those that cater solely to infants. 
  • Home Family Care: A home family care is simply a small daycare that functions inside the provider’s home. 

How To Start a Child Care Center? 

To start a Child Care center for five or more children, the right authorities need to be consulted with and licenses obtained. In Arizona, this means the Bureau of Child Care Licensing (BCCL), which comes under the Public Health Licensing Services, a division of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Regional offices located in Arizona and Tucson are concerned with the issuance of licenses. 

If up to four children in addition to the facilitator’s own children are being provided with care in exchange for compensation, then they do not need a license. Compensation can be money, vouchers, goods, or any other benefit that services as payment. 

Arizona Location Requirements

All locations need to meet local zoning requirements and obtain permits where required.

  • If the center is to be located within ¼ miles of any vacant or agricultural land, then the Agricultural Land Notification form in the application packet needs to be completed. Furthermore, the following is required: 
  • Names, addresses, and contact details of the landowners and occupiers need to be obtained. 
  • A buffer zone agreement, if necessary. This deals with pesticide application and has to be recorded at the County Recorder’s Office. 
  • If the center is to be located on autonomous land, then it has to be ensured that emergency services can access the Child Care facility. 
  • If the center is to be for children aged 3-13 and at a public school, then the Public School Building Information Form in the application packet needs to be completed.
  • If the center is not at a public school, then the Child Care Center Physical Plant Evaluation form in the application packet needs to be completed. 
  • If the center is to include an in-center food provision service, then the kitchen needs to be reviewed by the local County Health Department. 
  • A Child Care center should be able to provide at least 35 square feet per infant and one-year-old child as indoor activity space, and at least 25 square feet should be available for each child that is not an infant or one-year-old child. Kitchens, bathrooms, garages, hallways, and other such areas are not included in this requirement. 

Gas and Fire Inspections

The applicant should obtain inspections from a licensed plumber or any other authorized individual for gas pipes and meters. A similar inspection should also be done by the fire department to ensure fire hazard safety. Records of both such inspections should be maintained and need to be repeated every 12 months starting from the date of the issuance of the license. A licensee should have a portable fire extinguisher installed that is, at minimum, a 2A-10-BC rating. 

Strict rules should be followed to ensure protection against fire safety hazards. These include the following: 

  • Slow cookers and hot plates are used only in a kitchen and are inaccessible to an enrolled child. 
  • Heating and cooling equipment is inaccessible to an enrolled child. 
  • Fans are mounted and inaccessible to an enrolled child.
  • A smoke detector is installed in each indoor activity area and kitchen. 

Insurance Requirements

Minimum insurance coverage should include a general facility liability insurance of at least $300,000. If a motor vehicle is being used to transport kids, insurance coverage is also required for the motor vehicle. Documentation of all insurance needs to be maintained, and a copy should be submitted to the department before the issuance of a license and during any changes that may occur of insurance policy, including cancelation and expiration. 

Applicant Eligibility Requirements and Documents: 

The applicant is the person who is applying for the license; if it is an individual, then they become the applicant; if it’s a business, then the designated person; if a public school, then the person assigned as the signatory. The following documents are required to be submitted by the applicant for the issuance of the license. 

  • Passport, Birth Certificate, and Statement of Citizenship and Alien Resident. 
  • Copy of Level-One Fingerprint Clearance Card. This can be obtained from the Department of Public Safety. A Criminal History Affidavit is also required. The Department of Public Safety can be contacted at P.O. Box 18390 Phoenix, AZ 85005. And can also be reached at 602-223-2279. 
  • Certificate of Completion of the Department’s orientation. This will be obtained by passing the Orientation evaluation provided by the Licensing Surveyor. 

Other essential documents may also be required depending on the ownership of the daycare center. These include: 

  • Articles of Incorporation, Partnership, and Limited Liability 
  • Controlling Persons Information 
  • Contact Information of each board member and officer 
  • Current Corporation Commission Certificate of Good Standing/Registration 

A family home Child Care provider should be 21 years of age and have either: 

A high school diploma or equivalent  AND  three credit hours or 60 workshop hours in early education, child development, or a closely related field. 

OR 

 Twelve months of Child Care experience. 

The following documents are also required: 

  • Current Immunization Records for the provider and household members aged 13 years and younger.
  • Current proof of tuberculosis for the provider and household members. 
  • Background check for the provider and household members aged 18 years and older. 
  • Fingerprint Clearance for the provider and household members aged 18 years and older. 
  • Three references from individuals who have known the provider for a minimum of 1 year. 
  • Child Care Liability Insurance 

A home-based Child Care center should also be able to plan and execute age-appropriate activities for the children. If meals are being provided, they should be nutritious and part of a balanced diet Application Fee: 

The application fee is non-refundable and is calculated by the licensed capacity, which is the maximum number of children authorized by the Department to be enrolled at any given time. By joining a Department Approved program where possible, a reduction in application fee can be obtained: 

  • 5-10 licensed capacity: $1000 
  • 11-59 licensed capacity: $4000 
  • 60+ licensed capacity: $7800 

Staff to Children Ratio: 

The ratio is dependent on the age of the youngest child in a group. It should be ensured that the staff: children ratio is maintained for an individual group at all times.   

Age Group  Staff: Children 
Infants  1:5 
1-year-olds  1:6 
2-year-olds  1:8 
3-year-olds  1:13 
4-year-olds  1:15 
5-year-olds  1:20 
SchoolAge Children  1:20 

The ratio further increases with the age of the children enrolled. In a home-based childcare center, up to 15 children can be allowed if 5 of those are related to the provider or those for whom no compensation is being received. 

 Steps To Apply For a License: 

  • You must submit the application with all required documents based on the location, fee, and applicant/ownership personnel. The application will be needed to be sent to the Bureau of Child Care Licensing at 150 N 18th Ave., Suite 400 Phoenix, AZ 85007. 
  • A Licensing Surveyor will be assigned once the application starts being processed. They are responsible for monitoring the facility to ensure they follow all departmental rules and regulations. They will also help answer any queries put forward by the applicant. 
  • The Licensing Surveyor will provide an online link to completing the training evaluation. This needs to be passed to further process the application. 

Licensing Surveyor

To ensure a just and consistent method of child care facility assessment, a standard evaluation instrument is used to ensure compliance with rules and regulations. All facilities are visited periodically throughout the year for evaluations. A team member/ license surveyor will make at least two unannounced visits for inspection to the childcare provider’s home center during its operational hours. Four center-based childcare facilities have at least one unannounced visit annually during its hours of operation. 

The licensing surveyor is available Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm regarding any questions with regards to licenses and regulations. They can be contacted at Phoenix Office (602) 364-2539 or Tucson Office (520)-628-6541.  

Resources 

Status of Women Data (PDF) 

Child Care Aware State facts (PDF) 

Interpretation and Clarification of Child Care Licensing Rules (PDF) 

Becoming a Certified DES Provider