Licensing

Regulations for the State of Illinois

Do I need to be licensed to do child care in my home?  

If you have 3 children of your own under the age of 13, yes. If you have no children of your own under the age of 13 but want to provide for more than 3 children or 1 family, yes. 

 Can I be license-exempt?  

If you provide care for only three or fewer children under the age of thirteen, 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 numerous children that are all related, IDHS only allows payment if the children are all from the same household family. 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 IDHS 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” prominently 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: 

What’s required to get a license?  

You must contact your local Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to obtain an application 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 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. 

Champaign County:
2125 S. First St.
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 278-5300 

Vermilion and Iroquois Counties:
401 N Franklin
Danville, IL 61832
(217) 443-3200 

Macon, Douglas and Piatt Counties:
2900 N Oakland
Decatur, IL 62526
(217) 875-6750 

DCFS Regional Office
2125 S. First St
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 278-5500 

DCFS 800 Numbers:
Provider Information Line: 1-877-746-0829
1-800-252-2873 

FAMILY CHILD CARE HOME RATIOS 

Per DCFS Standard 406.13. . . 

Up to 5 children may be under the age of 5, of which up to 3 children may be under 24 months of age. 

OR 

A mixed age group consisting of: 

Up to 8 children under the age of 12, of which 

Up to 6 children may be under the age of 5, of which 

Up to 2 children may be under 30 months of age. 

Contact DCFS for additional ratio information. 

  

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.  

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