The following question was submitted to John Roska, an attorney/writer whose weekly newspaper column, "The Law Q&A," runs in the Champaign News Gazette.
I want to do child care in my home. How do I get licensed?
Illinois law says you need a license if you care for 4 kids and at least one kid is from a different family. When you care for kids from 2 or more families, your own kids count toward the 4. Kids are 11 years old or younger.
You get a day care license from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. There is no test. DCFS has forms that you fill out. They inspect your home when you apply. The license is free. It lasts for 3 years.
You must be 18 years old to get a license. You do not need a high school diploma or a GED. You must not have any physical or mental conditions which could interfere with child care responsibilities. Everyone living in your home must get a physical. A doctor must sign a form saying that everyone is healthy and passed a TB test. If you have pets, the vet must say they are healthy too.
Everyone in your home at least 13 years old must pass a criminal background check and get fingerprinted. You fail if anyone has been convicted of any of the crimes on a DCFS list.
You must have the following:
- CPR certificate
- Fire extinguisher
- Smoke detector
- First aid kit
There cannot be lead chipped or peeling paint. You cannot have bedridden or chronically ill people in your home. You cannot have any handguns in your home either. Other guns and ammo must be locked away from any kids. If you have guns, you must tell the parents of the kids you care for.
DCFS inspects your home to make sure it is safe and sanitary. There is no minimum space requirements if you care for 8 kids or less.
DCFS must see that you can care for kids and relate to their parents. They also check the 3 references you have to provide. Two of those references must say good things about you.
The application process takes about 4 months. It will take longer if there are out-of-state background checks. You may get a 2 month permit while your application is being processed.
Once you are granted a license, you must notify DCFS if you move. DCFS requires periodic license renewal. They should mail you a renewal application 6 months before your license expires.
Learn more by calling DCFS's day care information hotline at (877) 746-0829. Their brochure is linked in the title below.
Note: Effective January 1, 2018, DCFS must maintain a publicly available database on their website that provides information on every licensed child care provider in Illinois. This information includes whether the provider has ever had their license revoked or had a license renewal denied.