Do I need to be licensed to do child care in my home?
As a general rule of thumb, if the number of unrelated children you provide care for, is more than three (including your own children under age 12), you will need to obtain a child care license from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
Can I be license-exempt?
If you provide care for only three or fewer children under the age of twelve, including your own, or children from a single household or only children related to you, then you may be license-exempt.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) policy differs from DCFS in that while DCFS allows you to care for numberous children that are all related, IDHS only allows payment if the children are all from the same household family. If they are related and but not from the same household, the limit is 3 children. Under the guidelines of providing legal care, submitting necessary forms, and passing background checks, you will be able to receive payments at the License-exempt rate from IL DHS to care for children who are receiving state assistance.
Are there other forms of child care that can be license-exempt?
The State of Illinois Compiled Statutes law commonly known as the "Child Care Act of 1969" (225 IL CS 10/) regulates who is required to be licensed and who may qualify to be license-exempt.
Family child care homes are not the only form of child care that may be license-exempt. Certain programs may be exempt for licensure. If you do not see a "Child Care License" prominately displayed, ask your child care provider which exemption they meet under Rule 377, to be license-exempt. To obtain a copy of the rules for programs that may be exempt, visit the following link to the State of Illinois:
Part 377 - Facilities & Programs exempt from Licensure
What's required to get a license?
You must contact your local Department of Children and Family Services to obtain an appication and submit it for processing.
- No fee is charged to get a child care license
- you are expected to provide a safe and healthy home environment with adequate equipment and space
- must be at least 18 years of age
- must enjoy working with children
- must have a good understanding of the physical and emotional needs of young children
- must be certified in CPR, First Aid, and the Heimlich Maneuver
- must be fingerprinted by DCFS and pass a background check
SUMMARY OF LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILD CARE HOMES
A family child care home in Illinois must:
Be well ventilated, free from observable hazards, and be properly lighted and heated.
- Be equipped with an ABC fire extinguisher and one smoke detector on every floor including the attic and basement.
- Be free from chipped or peeling paint on walls and surfaces. Furniture and equipment must be in safe repair.
- Have at least one exit directly to the outside if the basement area is to be used for child care.
- Have a first aid kit.
- Must have a working phone number.
- Have a place to isolate a child who becomes ill.
- Have protective coverings over electrical outlets.
- Have partitions placed around space heaters, fireplaces, radiators, or other heat sources to keep children from touching them.
- Have storage areas inaccessible to children for tools, gardening equipment, and other hazardous materials.
- Have a safe outdoor space for active play, such as a yard, nearby park, or a playground. Play space must be protected by a fence or caretaker supervision against hazards such as traffic, pools, or construction.
- All members in the caregiver's family must have a medical check-up and a negative TB test.
- Assistants must also have a medical check-up and a negative TB test. Assistants must be at least 14 years old and be five years older than the oldest child in their care.
- Pets must be certified as healthy from a licensed, practicing veterinarian and have an up-to-date rabies shot.
- Applicants must sign a permission form allowing DCFS to conduct a background check to look for past conviction of child abuse and neglect and be fingerprinted.
- Applicants must obtain their landlord's permission to operate a family child care business in their home if they rent.
IL DCFS Licensing Standards
To view full copies of the State of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Licensing Standards, follow the links below
Part 406 - Licensing Standards for Day Care Homes (en español)
Part 407 - Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers
Part 408 - Licensing Standards for Group Day Care Homes (en español)
IL DCFS Licensing Offices Contact Information
If you feel you are ready to request application materials for becoming licensed, call the Department of Children and Family Services in your county.
2125 S. First St.
Champaign, IL 61820
Vermilion and Iroquois Counties:
401 N Franklin
Danville, IL 61832
Macon, Douglas and Piatt Counties:
2900 N Oakland
Decatur, IL 62526
DCFS Regional Office
2125 S. First St
Champaign, IL 61820
DCFS 800 Numbers:
Provider Information Line: 1-877-746-0829
Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-252-2873
FAMILY AND GROUP CHILD CARE HOME RATIOS
Maximum group size and ratios in family child care homes
A family child care provider without an assistant may care for up to eight children including their own, in the following combinations:
eight children under the age of 12:
- no more than five can be under the age of 5
- and no more than three can be under the age of 2
or eight children under the age of 12:
- no more than six can be under the age of 5
- and two can be under the age of 30 months
or eight children under the age of 12:
- and all the children must be school-age
A family child care provider may care for an additional four school-age children before and after school if she has an assistant who is at least 14 years old and at least 5 years older than the oldest child being cared for.
A family child care provider with an adult assistant (over the age of 18) may care for eight children under the age of 5. Five of these children may be under the age of 24 months. In addition, four school-age children may be cared for before and after school.
Maximum group size and ratios in group child care homes
The maximum number of children permitted in a group child care home is 16:
no more than 12 can be under the age of 6
- and no more than six can be under 30 months
- and no more than four can be under 15 months old
A group home provider without an assistant can care for the following combinations:
up to eight children under the age of 12: no more than five under the age of 5 and no more than three can be under the age of 2
- up to eight preschool children who are 3 years old or older
- up to 12 school-age children
A group home provider with a part-time assistant may care for four additional part-time, school-age children. These children may attend only before or after school, on holidays, on weekends, during unforeseen school closings, and during the summer.
A group home provider with a full-time assistant may care for:
- up to 12 children under the age of 6:
- no more than four under 15 months
- and no more than six under 30 months
Guides for Starting Family Child Care Homes or Day Care Centers
Are you interested in starting your own Family Child Care business or perhaps opening a Child Care Center? The following documents in PDF format, are one available resource from the Illinois Child Care Information Series. To request a pre-printed booklet be mailed to you, contact us. Other materials my be available to assist you further.
Note: These files are large and could take up to 80 seconds to download, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.
A Guide for Starting Family Child Care Homes
A Guide for Starting Child Care Centers