Planning to start a child care business in Georgia? Congratulations!
Before you can open your business to the public, you’ll need to connect with government agencies that control child care licensing in Georgia and obtain the right type of child care license for your business.
In this go-to guide, we provide all the information and resources you’ll need to successfully navigate the child care license application process in Georgia. We’ll explain the different types of child care businesses regulated in your state and how to determine which license type is right for you. We’ll also provide step-by-step instructions for completing the license application process so you can open your business and start providing care for kids in your community.
Georgia Child Care Licensing Overview
Georgia child care licensing is administered by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL). In addition to licensing home- and center-based child care operations, the department administers federal nutrition programs, Georgia’s Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program, and manages the quality rating system for child care businesses in Georgia communities.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning provides licensing services for two types of child care operations:
- Family Child Care Learning Home (FCCLH) – An FCCLH is a private residence operated by a child care provider who cares for between three and six children under age 13 for less than 24 hours per day. A home that is issued an FCCLH license must be zoned for residential and not for commercial use.
- Child Care Learning Center (CCLC) – A CCLC is any center-based care facility where a child care provider is paid to provide care for seven or more children under age 18 for fewer than 24 hours per day.
Before you can apply for your child care license, you’ll need to determine which of these license types applies to your business. If you provide home-based care, you’ll want to apply for an FCCLH license. If you provide center-based care, a CCLC license is the best option for you.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the specific steps for filing a licensing application and obtaining your child care license in Georgia.
How to Get Your Georgia Child Care License
Getting Your FCCLH License in Georgia
Step One: Meet Educational Requirements
Before you can start the child care license application process, you’ll need to meet some basic qualifying criteria established by the State of Georgia.
For starters, child care providers in Georgia must be at least 21 years of age.
You’ll also need to satisfy Georgia’s minimum educational requirements for providers by obtaining one or more of the seven approved child care credentials or degrees:
- A Technical Certificate of Credit (TCC) in Early Childhood Education (ECE)
- A Technical College Diploma (TCD) in ECE
- An Associate Degree (AA, AAS or AAT) in ECE
- A Bachelor’s degree in ECE
- A Master’s degree in ECE
- An up-to-date Child Development Associate (CDA) professional designation from the Council for Professional Recognition
- An up-to-date Paraprofessional Certificate from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission
Step Two: Attend a Licensing Orientation Meeting
If you’re over the age of 21 and have completed one of the necessary education requirements, the next step is to attend a Licensing Orientation Meeting (LOM).
Attending an LOM meeting is a mandatory component of the child care licensing process in Georgia. To register for your LOM, you’ll need to create an account with the Georgia Professional Development System for Early Childhood Educators (GaPDS). After doing so, you can visit the FCCLH orientation registration page to get started.
The licensing orientation is available online and can be completed at your own pace. You’ll learn how to effectively manage your child care business, maintain your facility in compliance with Georgia laws, and provide effective education and support programs for kids and their families.
As part of the orientation process, you’ll need to download the FCCLH application package, available on the DECAL website.
In addition to this orientation, you’ll also need to acquire current CPR and First Aid certifications, and complete 10 hours of training courses in early learning standards, communications, leadership and professional development, business management, and advocacy for parents and children. You can complete these courses online through Quality Care for Children.
Step Three: Learn about Georgia Child Care Laws
Now that you’ve completed your licensing orientation, you’re eligible to submit the application for your child care license – but there’s one big thing you should do first: learn about rules and regulations for FCCLHs in Georgia.
When you operate a child care business in Georgia, you’ll need to be in compliance with all of the state’s child care laws. You’ll also be subject to an inspection of your home, where you’ll need to show that you’re in compliance or prepared to comply with all of the necessary regulations.
For these reasons, we recommend learning as much as you can about Georgia’s child care laws before officially submitting your application. This gives you a chance to prepare your home for child care and ensure that you understand your legal obligations before you open to the public.
Step Four: Prepare and Submit Your Application
Once you’ve completed the child care LOM and you’re prepared to comply with Georgia’s child care laws, it’s time to submit your application! Here’s what you’ll need to include:
- A signed and completed FCCLH Licensing Application.
- Documentation or evidence of having completed the education requirements (described above).
- A Criminal Record Check Acknowledgement Form.
- A signed and notarized affidavit indicating your lawful presence in the United States.
- Documentation of having completed the required pre-service training.
- A completed copy of the FCCLH rules and regulations checklist provided with the licensing application package.
- A copy of a zoning approval letter from the appropriate jurisdiction, permitting the home to be licensed as a FCCLH.
- A copy of your business license, or a letter stating that you don’t require a business license for your child care operation.
- Proof of ownership of the residence, or a copy of your lease/rental agreement indicating that you are allowed to operate a child care business.
- A copy of your water/sewage bill that identifies the water source for your home. If your home uses a septic tank, you’ll need a letter from the local county health department indicating approval for your child care business.
- A readable floor plan of your residence.
- A copy of a fire inspection for your home, and certificate of occupancy if applicable.
DECAL staff are currently working remotely due to coronavirus, so applications should not be mailed to the DECAL office. Instead, you can email your completed application package and documentation to CCSASUAdmin@decal.ga.gov or fax your application forms to 770-357-7031.
Step Five: Prepare and Complete Your Inspection Visit
Once your application has been reviewed, a consultant from the DECAL will conduct an onsite inspection of the home to assess compliance with Georgia child care laws.
During the inspection, your consultant will check the home for health and safety hazards, and verify the qualifications of the child care provider and other employees in the home.
You can check page 20 of Georgia’s FCCLH licensing guide for a full list of items that the consultant may choose to review during your inspection visit.
Step Six: Receive Your Child Care License
If your child care licensing visit shows that you are in compliance with child care laws, you will be issued an FCCLH license that remains valid for one year. Congratulations on successfully starting your home-based child care business!
Getting Your CCLC License in Georgia
While the process for obtaining a CCLC license is different from the one for obtaining an FCCLH license, many of the requirements are the same. Below, we outline the CCLC licensing process while making reference to requirements described both above and on the Georgia DECAL website.
Step One: Meet Educational Requirements
Just like home-based child care providers, directors of center-based care facilities in Georgia must satisfy educational requirements by obtaining one of the seven approved degrees/credentials outlined above.
Step Two: Completed Preservice Training and Orientation
Within the first 90 days of obtaining a license, CCLC directors must complete 10 hours of state-approved Health and Safety Orientation Training in diverse topics. There’s also a 40-hour director training course that must be completed before a license will be issued. You can visit the DECAL website for more information on training requirements specific to the CCLC licensing process.
Step Three: Connect with State Agencies and Prepare for Compliance
Next, CCLC applicants should determine which local and state agencies have jurisdiction over the planned facility for fire, zoning, building, and health regulations. Approval letters will be required from the relevant authorities before a CCLC license can be issued for the facility.
Child care learning centers must operate in compliance with child care laws in Georgia. You can learn about the child care laws by reviewing Chapter 290-2-3 of the Georgia Administrative Code, the CCLC rules and regulations document provided by DECAL and the information/checklists provided in the CCLC application package.
Step Four: Submit Application Part A
The CCLC application is divided into two parts.
Part A, to be submitted first, includes a detailed floor plan, site plan and operations plan for your facility, along with the applicable checklists from the application package completed for each one. You’ll also need to provide a zoning letter, a certificate of completion from your licensure orientation meeting, proof of property ownership (or a lease document that gives you permission to operate a CCLC) and information about your LLC (if applicable).
Step Five: Submit Application Part B
Once Part A of your application is approved by a consultant at the Applicant Services Unit (ASU), you can move on to Part B of the application process.
For Part B of the application, you’ll need to submit:
- A certificate of completion for the 40-hour director’s training course.
- Results of criminal record checks for all CCLC staff.
- Confirmation of public sewage and water, or a letter from the local health department indicating safe drinking water and/or approval for septic tank usage at your center.
- Certificates of occupancy/approval from state/local agencies for building and fire.
- A completed vehicle inspection form.
- Proof of Director’s credentials or education.
- A map or directions to the CCLC facility.
- A completed copy of the Initial Licensing Study Staff Profile form for facility staff.
Any required letters will need to be obtained from the correct state/local authorities, while the required forms can be found in the CCLC application package on the DECAL website.
Step Six: Complete the Onsite Inspection Process
Once your application has been received and reviewed, an ASU consultant will conduct an onsite inspection to assess your compliance with Georgia child care laws.
Step Seven: Pay Licensing Fees and Receive Your Certificate
If your onsite inspection is successful, you will be issued a Permission to Operate. You’ll need to pay your annual licensing fee within 30 days before receiving your licensing certificate. Child care license payments are handled through DECAL KOALA, a service you’ll be able to access after creating an account for your center.
Once you’ve paid the necessary fees, you will be issued a CCLC license for your facility – congratulations! Your child care license will be valid for one year.
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