Start a Daycare in Illinois – Licensing, Regulations, Laws
|START A DAYCARE IN ILLINOIS||PERMITS AND LICENSES|
|PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS||STRUCTURE & SAFETY|
|HEALTH & HYGIENE||FACILITY & EQUIPMENT|
|FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN ILLINOIS|
The state of Illinois aims to prescribe standards for licensure of day care centers and to make it easy for people to apply for a license by establishing the requirements for the daily operation of day care centers that serve children.
According to the Child Care Act of 1969, a child care facility means any person, group of persons, agency, association or organization, whether established for gain or otherwise, who or which receives or arranges for care or placement of one or more children, unrelated to the operator of the facility, apart from the parents, with or without the transfer of the right of custody in any facility established and maintained for the care of children.
PERMITS AND LICENSES
The licensing process to operate a child care center formally starts with the submission of an application which is the same for opening a new child care center and for renewing an existing license. The applicant is required to submit plans that will demonstrate that the center will operate in accordance with the licensing requirements imposed by the Department of Children and Family Policy.
Application for License
The application for license is to be completed by the officers of the governing body of a day care center or its authorized representative on forms prescribed and furnished by the Department. The application must be complete and signed, otherwise it will be returned for completion and signature. A complete application form must include the following:
- Articles of incorporation and by-laws, indicating the center’s good corporate standing with the Illinois Secretary of State;
- Statement of purpose and policies;
- List of officers, board members and committees of the governing body;
- Annual operating budget showing anticipated expenses and income;
- Staffing plan including job description and staff members’ qualifications;
- Written delegation of administrative authority; and
- List of persons subject to the background check requirements, and each person’s complete, signed authorization to conduct the background check.
The Department, upon receipt of the complete and signed application for license, shall conduct a license study to determine if the day care center meets the licensing standards. It will involve a comprehensive review of all the written materials, discussion of plans and procedures, and direct observation at the center’s site. The licensing study shall be in writing and shall be reviewed and signed by the licensing supervisor and the licensing representative who will perform the study.
After completing a license study, the Department may authorize operation of the child care center by issuing a three-year license for an existing center or an initial six-month permit for a new center. The Department will frequently visit the child care center during the initial six-month period to monitor and provide consultation before issuing a three-year license after the center has demonstrated full compliance with the standards.
A day care center license is valid for three years unless voluntarily surrendered by the licensee or revoked by the Department. It cannot be transferred or transmitted to another person or other legal entity and is only valid for the name and address shown in the license. The license, which is free of charge or fee, is to be displayed at all times at the facility. The day care center must operate within the license capacity as to the number, ages of children served, and areas used for child care.
A permit, issued for a six-month period prior to the issuance of a license, shall not be issued prior to the following:
- Completion of the application for license and submission to the Department;
- Employment of a child care director who had passed the background check requirements and had submitted three references and proof of education;
- Employment of staff who meet the requirements for first-aid, Heimlich maneuver, CPR, with food service sanitation requirements, and a projected staffing plan;
- Receipt of fire and sanitation clearances;
- Proof of current public liability insurance;
- Development of an emergency medical care plan;
- Acquisition of furniture and equipment suited to the number and ages of children to be served during the six-month permit period;
- Records on file at the day care center for each employed staff member during the permit period that will include a current medical report, three written character references, documentation of educational qualifications, and proof of background check clearance;
- Creation of procedures and forms for records and reports required;
- Submission to the licensing authority of a written plan indicating how requirements for a license shall be met within the permit period;
- Demonstration of financial capability through an annual projected budget showing anticipated operating expenses and income;
- Development of a written program description and daily program schedule;
- Completion of a drawing of the center’s floor plan, with the measurements for each area to be used by the children and of all outdoor areas that are used for the children;
- Development of a risk management plan; and
- A statement of the cay care center’s discipline policy.
The permit, which is not renewable, cannot be issued retroactively and is not transferrable. It is valid only for the name or address as shown on the issued permit. The permit must be on display at all times at the center. The center must not begin operation prior to receiving a permit from the Department. A license shall be issued anytime within the six-month period of the permit if the facility achieves full compliance with the standards set forth by the Department.
An efficient system of administration in a day care center gives the assurance that the standards are consistently upheld and needs of the children served are met. A strong system of administration requires a large amount of documentation to assure management, parents, and the Department that the day care program is functioning properly.
The governing body of the day care center is legally responsible to the Department for the maintenance of the standards set forth by the Department. The governing body must have members who have reputable and responsible character. It may delegate to the day care center director the responsibility of the day-to-day compliance with the standards by filing with the Department written policies on delegation of responsibility.
The governing body, or a duly designated representative, must notify the Department of any major changes affecting the areas of operation, such as governance, location, physical plant, finances, staff, equipment, or disasters that affect the center’s ability to continue operation. Likewise, it must notify the Department in writing within seven days after any notice of legal action against the center that will negatively affect operation or ability to maintain licensing standards.
The governing body of the day care center shall put in place a process for recruiting, hiring, and maintaining staff. Written personnel policies, which must be made available to the staff at all times, shall be created.
The day care center must provide a summary of licensing standards and other materials designated by the Department for distribution to the parents or guardians of the children served by the center.
The day care center must develop a written risk management plan that will pinpoint potential operational risks, ways to reduce or eliminate the risks, and establishes procedures to be followed in an emergency or crisis situation.
The risk management plan must address the following:
- Training provided to staff to identify and minimize risks relating to the care and supervision of children;
- Design and maintenance of the building and vehicles used in the day care center;
- Maintenance and storage of food service, and maintenance equipment, chemicals, and supplies;
- Selection, maintenance, and supervision of educational materials, pets, toys, and playground equipment;
- Food service sanitation
- Cleanliness of the buildings and grounds; and
- Emergency and disaster preparation, including evacuation plans.
The day care center must maintain records that are essential in the operation of the facility. Financial records shall be maintained in Illinois and must be made available for licensing review.
The day care center shall hire staff to ensure that care and safety of the children at all times. A written staffing plan will be able to organize the staff and enable them to give the children continuity of care and supervision. Every staff person must be qualified for his position at the time of hiring and staff changes must be minimal so that children will experience consistent relationship with as few adults as possible.
A qualified child care director shall be employed to oversee the program and administer day-to-day operations. He shall be responsible for the planning and supervision of the program and activities of the children; orientation of newly hired staff; on-site supervision of staff; and a minimum of 15 hours in-service training per year for each member of the child care staff.
Requirements for Personnel
The staff of the day care center must be able to demonstrate the skills and competence needed to contribute to the child’s physical, intellectual, personal, emotional, and social development.
The attainment of this standard can be made possible if the staff members show:
- Emotional maturity while working with children;
- Cooperation with the objectives and services of the program;
- Respect for the children and adults;
- Flexibility, patience and understanding;
- Physical and mental health that will not interfere with child care responsibilities;
- Good personal hygiene;
- Good rapport with children;
- Listening skills, and responsiveness to children;
- Sensitivity to children’s socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, and individual needs and capabilities;
- Use of positive discipline and guidance techniques; and
- Ability to provide an environment where children will feel comfortable, happy, relaxed, and involved in play and other activities.
Day care staff must demonstrate skill and competence in assuming direct responsibility for child care by possessing skills to help children meet their developmental and emotional needs, and skills in planning, directing, and conducting programs that will meet the children’s basic needs.
Newly hired staff must submit a recent report of physical examination which provides evidence that they are free of communicable disease, including active tuberculosis, and physical or mental conditions that could affect their ability to perform their duties. Cooks and others assisting in the preparation, serving and handling of food and cooking/serving utensils shall make their positions known to the examining physician, and must comply with the current rules and regulations of the Illinois Department of Public Health pertaining to Food Service Sanitation.
One staff member who has completed training and is currently certified in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver, must be on duty at all times.
The day care center must require all persons subject to background checks to furnish written information regarding any criminal convictions, to submit to fingerprinting and to authorize the background checks required by the Illinois Administrative Code.
The child care center must maintain a confidential file on each staff member and must contain the following information:
- A copy of a Department form containing information on persons employed in the center;
- A record of current medical examination on a Department prescribed form;
- Three written character references, verified by the center;
- Proof of educational achievement as required by the position;
- Verification of previous experience when such experience is considered part of the individual’s qualifications for the position; and
- Signed statement acknowledging the employee’s status as a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse and neglect.
The staff member’s individual authorization and result of the background check must be kept in a separate and confidential file. Changes in employee’s positions within the day care center, including a change of director, must be reported on a monthly basis in a Department-prescribed form while name changes must be documented in the personnel files.
Staff member who is serving as a day care facility driver must submit to the Department a driver application together with a copy of the current medical report that was completed not more than 60 days before assuming the duties of a driver, or a copy of a current school bus permit as a substitute for the required medical examinations.
The day care center must also maintain written documentations of the following:
- Certification in food service sanitation for the person who will manage on-site the preparation and/or service of food, including the service of catered food;
- In-service training provided for the child care director and each member of the center’s staff: and
- The presence in the day care center during the hours of operation of an employee who is certified in first-aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver.
The day care center is also required to submit to the Department copies of proof of educational achievement and three written references for the child care director and any person designated to serve as alternate director.
The child care director shall work full-time on site in a non-teaching capacity when the day care center is licensed for more than 50 children.
The child care director must have the following qualifications:
- Must be at least 21 years of age.
- Must have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate (GED).
- Must have 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of credit from an accredited college or university, 18 semester or 27 quarter hours of which must be related to child care and/or child development from birth to age six; or 2 years of child development experience in a nursery school, kindergarten, or licensed day care center; or completion of an Early Childhood Teacher Credentialing Program.
Early childhood teachers must be at least 19 years of age and must have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate (GED) and any of the following additional requirements:
- Sixty semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of credits from an accredited college or university with 6 semester or 9 quarter hours in courses related to child care and/or child development from birth to age six; or
- One year of child development experience in recreational program or licensed day care centers; or
- Completion of an Early Childhood Teacher Credentialing Program.
Early childhood assistants must have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate (GED) and must work under the direct supervision of an early childhood teacher.
Students and youth aides may provide assistance in the care of children provided that they are 14 years old or older and will assist only under the direct supervision of an early childhood teacher. They should not be counted for purposes of maintaining staff/child ratios.
Substitutes must have the same personal, health, administrative, and professional qualifications required of staff whom they are going to substitute, including completion of a background check.
Volunteers may help in the care of children in the day care center provided they meet the same personnel qualifications required of other staff.
Day care centers must have requirements that are designed to insure that every program in the center is safe, healthy, and appropriate for the children’s needs. The following requirements apply to day care centers regardless of a program design, philosophy, or curriculum:
- A child is to be recognized as an individual whose gender, ability differences, personal privacy, choice of activities, cultural, ethnic, and religious background must be respected.
- The day care center staff must have a written plan to encourage parents to visit the center to observe and participate in a child’s experience. Parents must be allowed to visit the center without an appointment during the normal hours of operation.
- The program must allow a child to choose his activities, either by playing alone or with others.
- The day care center must provide a program of activities that are geared to the age levels and developmental needs of the children.
- The program must provide experiences which will promote the individual child’s growth and well-being, including the development of self-help and communication skills, social competence, and positive self-identity.
- The use of visual media must be limited to developmentally appropriate programming, with an alternate activity being made available.
- The program must take into account the stress and fatigue that may result from pressures and stimulation of long hours in a group living situation.
- Arrangement of activity areas, equipment, and materials must allow staff’s awareness of the child’s presence and activity at all times.
- Equipment must be arranged in orderly, clearly defined areas of interest to enable children to see various activities that are available to them.
- Programs involving intergenerational activities must be conducted in accordance with the rules set forth by the Department.
- Materials and equipment must respect children’s racial, cultural, ethnic, religious and gender identities, as well as age and ability.
- Every child must have access to the full variety of age-appropriate equipment on a daily basis.
- Specific plan developed to meet a child’s individual needs must record any assessment by a staff or resource personnel, including a written program recommendations and goals for the child. It must also include a written plan for implementing the recommendations and a periodic written evaluations of how the goals are being met.
- Adjustments to the program plan must be indicated by evaluations.
- Staff need to consult with parents before implementing any special procedures required to meet a child’s individual needs.
- Children must be attended by a staff member at all times.
- Staff assignments should include attempts to establish a primary relationship between each child and one adult.
- Children must receive a supervision that is appropriate to the their developmental age and must be protected from exploitation, neglect, and abuse.
- There shall be a minimum of 35 square feet of activity area per child in facilities that care for children 2 years and older.
STRUCTURE AND SAFETY
The day care center must ensure that the safety and well-being of the children are preserved in many ways. Procedures for enrollment and discharge will insure that the staff members understand every child’s needs.
Enrollment and Discharge Procedures
The day care must only enroll children who are eligible under the center’s written enrollment policies. There must be no eligibility criteria that will screen out children with disabilities and shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures in order to accommodate children with disabilities.
Parents or guardians must be provided information about the center’s program prior to enrollment of their children and they must also be given the opportunity to observe during the hours of operation. The center must provide publicly available written statements which will include the following:
- Names, business address and telephone numbers of persons legally responsible for the program and those who have immediate responsibility for the daily conduct of the program;
- Statement of services, purposes and goals;
- Description of the daily program;
- Fees and plans of payment;
- Policies regarding delinquent fees;
- Types of insurance coverage for the children;
- Admission, enrollment, and discharge policies and procedures to include: hours of operation, information regarding part-time enrollment when available, and holiday and vacation schedules;
- Arrival and departure arrangements for children including time, location, and transportation;
- Provisions for emergency medical care, treatment of illness and accidents;
- Formal religious observance or instruction, if any;
- Visits, trips, or excursions off the premises and the transportation to be used;
- Procedure concerning personal belongings brought to the center;
- Policy regarding the release of personal information on the child or family;
- Guidance and discipline policy; and
- Planned means of communication between the center and the parent.
The day care center shall maintain a record on all children enrolled in the center to help staff effectively plan to meet every child’s individual needs. A written application with the signature of the enrolling parents must be kept in the file of each child. The application shall contain personal information about the child and information about the enrolling parents, including contact numbers and name of persons authorized to pick up the child from the day care center.
The daily arrival of children at the center must be conducted to protect every child’s physical and emotional well-being. Parents must inform the staff about a child’s immediate daily needs. Staff members must conduct a daily pre-admission screening to determine any obvious symptoms of illness.
The child shall be released only to the parent or legal guardian or any designated representative whose identification is on file with the center. The center must have a policy on what to do to children whose parents fail to pick them up on time.
Guidance and Discipline
The day care center must have a guidance and discipline policy in place which must be signed by the staff at the time of employment and by the parents at the time of enrollment of their children. The guidance and discipline policy must include:
- A statement of the center’s philosophy regarding guidance and discipline;
- Information on how discipline will be implemented by staff:
- Information on how parents will be involved in the guidance and discipline process;
- Information on how children will be involved in the guidance and discipline process; and
- Written procedures for termination of a child’s enrollment in the day care center because of disciplinary issues.
There shall be written rules that will set the limits of behavior required for the protection of the group and individuals. The rules must be made available to children, parents, and staff.
It will be the duty of the staff to help individual children develop self-control and assume responsibility for their action.
The following behaviors are prohibited in all child care settings:
- Corporal punishment, including hitting, spanking, swatting, beating, shaking, pinching and other measures aimed to induce fear or physical pain;
- Threatened or actual withdrawal of food, rest or use of the bathroom;
- Abusive or profane language;
- Any form of public or private humiliation, including threats of physical punishment; and
- Any form of emotional abuse, including shaming, rejecting, terrorizing, or isolating a child.
When there is a specific plan for responding to a child’s pattern of unacceptable behavior, the staff who are in contact with the child must be aware of the plan and cooperate in its implementation. Clinical behavior management plans may be developed with the parent and a professional clinician to meet the needs of the child. All staff members must receive training on how to implement the plan.
A day care center may provide or arrange to provide transportation for children to or from their homes or other pre-arranged sites and the center; in connection with an activity that is sponsored by the center; and from the center to a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office for medical treatment except in emergency situations. A day care center that provides transportation services must comply with all the driver licensing rules, Rules of the Road, financial responsibility, vehicle equipment and vehicle inspection provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
The driver of a vehicle that transports children on behalf of the day care center must be 21 years old, a holder of a current and valid driver’s license, must demonstrate physical fitness to operate a vehicle and must not be convicted of more than two offenses of moving violations within a one year period. He also must not have any conviction for reckless driving, driving under the influence, or manslaughter or reckless homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle for the past 3 years.
The driver of a day care center vehicle must not leave the vehicle unattended at any time while transporting children and must see that each child boards and exits the vehicle from the curb side of the street and is safely conducted across the street. The driver must see to it that the designated person is present to take charge of a child when delivered to the destination. All safety precautions and maintenance on the vehicle must be conducted by the driver for the safety of the children he is transporting.
HEALTH AND HYGIENE
Day care centers must create programs whose provisions are not only meant to care for children who become ill but also to avoid illness through proper hand washing and other hygienic practices and to promote children’s good health through balanced nutritious meals and adequate rest.
The children and staff must frequently and properly wash their hands as a key method of controlling the spread of disease in the day care setting. Day care staff must be role models for the children in promoting a healthier environment by teaching them good hand washing techniques.
The following technique for thorough hand washing must be used in the center:
- Wet hands under warm running water.
- Lather both hands and scrub vigorously for at least 15 seconds.
- Thoroughly rinse hands under warm running water.
- Both hands must be dried with a new single-use towel or automatic dryer.
- Use disposable towel to turn off a hand held faucet in order to avoid recontamination of clean hands.
Nutrition and Meal Service
The kitchen in the day care center that will cook or prepare food for the children must be inspected and approved in accordance with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Food Service Sanitation Code. Food service must be under the management of a State-certified food service manager as required by the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act.
Kitchen areas must be maintained clean and must be equipped for preservation, storage, preparation and serving of food. Provisions for cleaning and sanitation of dishes must be provided.
Menus must be planned at least one week in advance and must be available for review. Copy of the corrected menus must be kept on file and must be available for review for one year after the meals were served. Menus must be posted in conspicuous places in the center and must be made available when requested by parents. Menu planning must consider cultural and ethnic patters, and menus must be nutritionally equivalent to the requirements of the Infant Daily Food Requirements or the Meal Patterns and Serving Sizes for Child Care Programs set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.
Diapering and Toileting Procedures
Day care centers that serve children wearing diapers or disposable pull-ups must have a designated diapering area which must include an accessible hand washing sink, a changing surface, covered receptacles for soiled diapers disposal, a supply of disposable later globes, and a posted procedure for diaper changing.
The diapering area must be kept separate from any food preparation areas and must never be used for temporary placement or serving of food.
Napping and Sleeping
The day care center must provide a separate crib, bed or cot and individual sheets and bedding for children who require sleep or nap provisions. The crib, bed or cot must be appropriate for the child’s development level and must be individually labeled with a child’s name. All sheets and beddings must be kept clean and sanitized before they are used by the children. All children must be supervised during their napping or sleeping period.
A written policy regarding medications must be maintained by a day care center. Medication, both prescription and non-prescription, must be in their original container and must have full pharmacy label. Medication must be administered in such a manner that the safety of the child is protected. Medications must be safely stored and must not be used beyond the date of expiration.
FACILITY AND EQUIPMENT
Physical Plant/Indoor Space
Day care centers must have buildings that are in good shape and in compliance with all applicable fire safety and building code standards. The building must be approved for occupancy by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office the State Fire Marshall or local agencies duly authorized by those State agencies to conduct inspections on their behalf.
There must be sufficient indoor space to conduct the program of a day care center. There must be a minimum of 35 square feet of activity area per child in centers for children two years of age and older. The building and indoor space must be in good repair and must provide for a safe, comfortable environment for the children. The area must be free of any hazard or obstruction that could endanger the life and safety of the children in the center.
All precautions must be done to secure the children while in the day care center. Exits must be kept unlocked and clear of equipment and debris at all times. Electrical outlets within reach of children must be covered. Drills for possible emergency situations including fire and tornado must be regularly conducted.
All areas of the center must be sufficiently lighted. The center must maintain a safe and sanitary water supply and must maintain documentation on current test results indicating that the water supply is safe in accordance with the standards specified in the Drinking Water Systems Code.
The center must be cleaned daily and kept in sanitary condition at all times. Garbage and refuse must be collected on a daily basis and stored in a manner that will not permit the transmission of disease, create a nuisance or a fire hazard or provide harbor for insects, rodents or other pests.
Equipment and Materials
The day care center must provide adequate equipment and materials for both indoor and outdoor activities that are appropriate to the age and the developmental needs of the children. Play materials must be durable and must be free from hazardous characteristics. Storage must be provided for surplus toys and supplies that are not currently in use.
Outdoor Play Area
The day care center must have an outdoor play area that must be maintained in good repair, safe, clean and sanitary manner. Equipment in the play area must be securely installed and must be free of any hazard or risk to the safety and well being of the children. Access to play equipment must be limited to age groups to which the equipment is developmentally appropriate, according to the instructions of the manufacturer.
FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN ILLINOIS
- Arlington Heights
- Blue Island
- Buffalo Grove
- Calumet City
- Carol Stream
- Chicago Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- Downers Grove
- East Peoria
- East St Louis
- Elk Grove Village
- Elmwood Park
- Glen Ellyn
- Glendale Heights
- Granite City
- Hanover Park
- Highland Park
- Hoffman Estates
- La Salle
- Lake in the Hills
- Melrose Park
- Morton Grove
- Mount Prospect
- North Chicago
- Oak Forest
- Oak Lawn
- Oak Park
- Orland Park
- Park Forest
- Park Ridge
- Rock Island
- Rolling Meadows
- Round Lake Beach
- South Holland
- St Charles
- Tinley Park
- West Chicago
State Licensing Contact
Some cities or counties may have additional licensing requirements in addition to the requirements imposed by the Department of Children and Family Policy. It is recommended that applicants for a license must inquire from the local government unit that has jurisdiction in the area where the day care center proposes to operate.
The main licensing contact for the operation of a day care center in the State of Illinois is:
State of Illinois
Department of Children & Family Policy
406 East Monroe Street, Station 65-D
Springfield, IL 62701-1498
Phone: (217) 785-2688 or (877) 746-0829
Web Page: http://www.state.il.us/dcfs/policy/pr_policy_rules.shtml