Illinois Child Care EducationIllinois Child Care Licensing 

Individuals that are seeking a license for Child Care must be familiar with the rules that govern their type of facility. The Department advises all interested applicants to attend an orientation. The best approach to begin the process is to call the local license office that is close to your intended facility and speak with a licensed representative about your experience and your plans. From there, they will inform you of when the next available orientation is and will help you request a preliminary application.

Licenses are free however, there are expenses associated with medicals and vaccinations, inspections or testing, pet vaccinations, equipment and supplies, training, and other requirements. You should also be aware that, especially for centers, the building may not be suitable for Child Care for such reasons as insufficient space, inadequate outdoor play area, lead paint, mold, etc. It is unwise to make a financial commitment until you are sure that the building is (or can be made to be) in compliance with the rules.

Day Care home and group daycare home licenses are only issued in the family home of the individual applying. Child Care must occur in the house where you and your family live—not in any other location. You may not rent or buy another home or apartment or use an unattached garage, outbuilding, etc. If you wish to use space away from where you and your family live, you must seek licensure as a daycare center.

Everyone age 13 years and older living or working in a daycare home are subject to a background check. Individuals 18 and over must be printed and will receive a full check, which consists of a review of information from the Illinois State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State and National Sex Offender Registry, Illinois DCFS Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System, and the child abuse and neglect registry of any other state of residence. There is no cost for this check.

Individuals Who Apply for a Home-based Child Care License Must Also Submit:

  • A medical examination, including TB, DPT, and MMR
  • Proof of high school diploma, GED, or other degrees from an accredited university or vocational school
  • Affidavit that they are current with any child support owed
  • Proof of at least 15 hours of required pre-service training on specific topics
  • Illinois Gateways Registry membership
  • Proof of liability insurance (group daycare homes only)
  • Proof of 6 hours of college coursework in early childhood or child development (group daycare homes only)

Once the application is accepted as complete and correct, and background check results have been received, the home visit will be scheduled. A walk-through of the house and property will be conducted to note any safety hazards, sign other agreements and verifications, set capacity, determine areas of use, days and hours of operation, and explain required record-keeping for children enrolled and employees.

You can find the Day Care Home Licensing Standards here and the Group Day Care Home Licensing Standards are here

The length of time it takes an individual to move from applicant to licensee or permit-holder depends upon several variables, including state fire marshal inspections, municipal inspections, and approvals if applicable, background check results, etc. The most significant factor in progress towards licensure is generally the applicant’s familiarity and compliance with the licensing standards.

For homes, the Department has an on-line, free orientation which can be found at DCFS Training

Illinois Daycare Center Application

Each center application will vary, due to size, organizational structure, staffing, hours, location, the configuration of the physical plant, etc. Background checks, state and local inspections for fire, plumbing, and health compliance, insurance requirements, minimum space requirements, and all other requirements can be found here.

Because of the complexity, daycare center applicants work closely and often communicate with their assigned licensing representatives, from pre-application to receipt of their permit and then through to licensure. Each center must have a qualified director during hours of operation, follow limits on the number of children in each classroom or group, comply with child-staff ratios at all times, maintain financial solvency, provide nutritious meals and snacks, and provide an environment where children are safe and comfortable and enjoy learning.

There are educational and experience requirements for staff, and programming is required, which includes age- and developmentally-appropriate activities, both indoors and out.

A Needs Assessment is encouraged to examine the availability of Child Care in your area and whether the community could support your center. Your Resource and Referral Agency can be a wealth of information regarding local Child Care needs. You can find yours here. If you determine that you want to pursue a daycare center license, please phone the licensing office nearest your proposed location to speak with a licensing representative and arrange to attend an orientation in person.

Once approved, Centers are issued a 6-month permit, during which the licensing representative will conduct routine monitoring visits, provide consultation, and ensure that you are entirely in compliance so that a license can be recommended.