Start a Daycare in Ohio – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
The state of Ohio, through high standards of licensing, certification and regulatory activities, work to ensure that parents have access to high-quality child care facilities that guarantee the health, safety and well-being of their children.
In Ohio Law, “child day care” is administering to the needs of the children outside of school hours by persons other than their parents or guardians on a less than 24 hour basis.
A Child Care Center is a nonresidential facility that could accommodate seven or more children of any age. In Type A Homes, seven to twelve children (or four to twelve children if four children are under two years of age) are cared for in the provider’s personal residence. The provider’s own children under six years of age must be included in the total count. Both Center and Type A homes must be licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) in order to operate.
DAY CARE LICENSE APPLICATION
“License capacity” means the maximum number in each age category of children who may be cared for in a child day-care center or Type A family day-care home at one time as determined by the ODJFS. The license is applicable only for the licensee, administrator, address and license capacity for each age category of children designated on the license. The following are considered in determining the license capacity for each age category of children
- Building occupancy limitations
- Adequate space
- Number of child-care staff members
- Amount of available indoor floor space and outdoor play space
- Available play equipment materials and supplies
The person desiring to establish or operate a child care center shall do all of the following for an initial license:
- Complete and submit an original and two copies of the JFS 01210 “Application for Child Care License” The JFS 01210 form is used to apply for initial and renewal licenses for child care centers and type A child care homes. Both owner and the administrator of the child care center must sign and submit this form to the department and agree to the terms of the application and the licensing process. $100 (Center) or $50 (Type A Home) application fee in check or money order will be made out to: Treasurer, State of Ohio (ODJFS). Fee payments are not refundable or transferable. The application shall be considered
filed with the department as of the date it is postmarked if via mail or time/date stamped by ODJFS. An initial application shall be considered valid for one calendar year from the date it is filed with ODJFS.
- Submit a completed JFS 01250 “Plan of Operation for a Child Care Center”. The JFS 01250 shall serve as the applicant’s written plan of intended compliance with Chapter 5104 of the Revised Code and Chapter 5101:2-12 of the Administrative Code and must be furnished with the required attachments and/or JFS forms. JFS forms can either be prescribed (required in order to comply with the requirements of the childcare licensing rules) or sample (form which provider may opt to use). The following are:
- Incorporation papers (if center is owned by a corporation)
- Certificate of occupancy
- Fire approval (prescribed JFS 01303 or Fire Marshall’s Inspection form)
- Food service license or letter from the local Board of Health that exempts the need of acquiring a food service license
- Caterer’s current food service operation license (if a licensed food catering service operation will be preparing the meals/snacks)
- Copy of the inspection report that will be used on a quarterly basis in assessing the playground
- Permission of use given by owner of the playground (for off-site nonpublic playground)
- Laboratory test of the center’s water supply from the local health department if source is not publicly supplied.
- Center’s suggested play equipment /materials/activity list divided by categories , age group and rooms (sample JFS 01220 form)
- Swimming and water activities permission forms for parents to sign (sample JFS 01227 form)
- Parental permission form for transporting or walking children off the center premises (sample JFS 01225 and JFS 01226 forms)
- Annual and weekly vehicle inspection forms (prescribed JFS 01230 and sample JFS 01338 forms)
- Completed employee record chart or list of anticipated positions and work hours if employees are not yet hired (prescribed JFS 01306 form)
- Sample attendance form which center will use to record attendance of all children daily (sample JFS 01208 and JFS 01223 forms)
- Copy of the center’s evening program schedule
- Verified copy of the administrator’s educational qualifications
- Job description of the administrator
- Employee pre-service policy review statement prescribed JFS 01246 form)
- Copy of information given to parents at the preadmission interview (sample JFS 01268 form)
- Complete medical, dental and general emergency plan (prescribed JFS 01242)
- Fire and weather alert plans
- Center’s medical / physical care plan (sample JFS 01236 form)
- Child’s enrollment and health information form (prescribed JFS 01234 form)
- Child’s medical form (sample JFS 01305 form)
- Menu compliance sheets for menus for two weeks
- If the center will not prepare food but only serves food brought by the parents; a list of food on hand to supplement lunches that falls below. the one-third daily dietary allowance, a copy of the nutritional information that will be given to parents and a description of the center’s food storage plan for lunches must be attached
- Infant daily record and the form used to secure basic infant information from the parents prior to the child starting at the center (sample JFS 01228 and JFS 01218 forms)
- Complete the criminal records checks for owners and prospective administrators.
- Participate in an application interview with ODJFS.
- If an application is determined to be invalid, a new initial application and fee shall be submitted.
- The center shall comply with an inspection by ODJFS to determine that the requirements of Chapter 5104 of the Revised Code and Chapter 5101:2-12 of the Administrative Code are met.
- The center shall address any noncompliance listed in the written inspection report by the date noted in the report.
- ODJFS shall issue a provisional license if the center has complied with all Requirements and addressed any noncompliance. Center shall comply with at least one inspection by ODJFS.The provisional license is valid for six calendar months from the date of approval.
- The provisional license shall be amended into a regular license if the center complied with the requirements by the date of expiry of the provisional license. The regular license will be effective for two calendar years from the date of approval of the provisional license. If the center did not comply with all requirements by the expiration date of the provisional license, the provisional license shall not be amended to a regular license.
- The ODJFS shall investigate and may inspect any licensed child care center upon receiving any complaint that it is out of compliance with the requirements of Chapter 5104 of the Revised Code or Chapter 5101:2-12 of the Administrative Code.
- The ODJFS may deny an application or revoke a child care center license.
Building approval shall be obtained from the Ohio department of commerce or from the local certified building department and shall be verified by a certificate of occupancy.
FIRE DEPARTMENT APPROVAL
Centers shall secure a fire inspection and written endorsement from the state fire marshal or the local fire safety inspector for the municipality or township prior to the use of any parts of the structure for child care.
FOOD SERVICE LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS
The center must provide verification of a suitable food service operation license, allowing the preparation and serving of food or exemption status from the authorized local health department or from the Ohio department of health. If the meals or snacks are provided by a licensed caterer, the center shall maintain on file at the center a copy of the caterer’s current license. If the caterer only provides the food but the center shall be the one serving it, the center shall follow the requirements of the local health department having jurisdiction.
INDOOR FLOOR SPACE REQUIREMENTS
The child care center must have at least 35 sq. ft. of usable wall-to-wall indoor floor space for each child. Usable wall-to-wall indoor floor space shall not include hallways, kitchens, storage rooms or other areas not available for child care. Bathrooms may be included if they are used exclusively by children enrolled in the center. Areas included in the center’s square footage shall be solely for child care during all working hours of the child care facility. For children less than two and one half years of age, a separate space is a requisite.
OUTDOOR PLAY REQUIREMENTS
The child day-care center shall have onsite a safe, sanitary outdoor play space which is enclosed by a fence or otherwise protective barrier from traffic, hazards and animals and must have at least sixty square feet of usable space per child using the area at one time. Access to bathroom facilities, drinking water and shaded area are required. If an outdoor play space is not available, the center can be exempted if the following requirements are followed:
- The center provides an indoor recreation area that has a minimum of 1,440 sq. ft. of space separate from the indoor space requirements
- A regularly available safe park or play area approved by the director of ODJFS
SAFE AND SANITARY EQUIPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT
The center shall provide furniture, materials, equipment and an environment that is safe and in sanitary condition. Children must be protected from any items and conditions that might pose as a hazard to their health, safety and well being.
A well balanced program of activities and opportunities for both quiet and active play suitable to the developmental levels and abilities of each child in care must be provided by the center on a daily basis. Play materials must be safe and activities well supervised. An area will be designated where children can individually store their personal belongings. A copy of the daily program schedule must be posted in a conspicuous space.
SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY REQUIREMENTS
All swimming areas shall meet all state and local guidelines for environmental health inspections and for onsite and private pools. Verification of the inspections for onsite and private pools shall be maintained. There shall be one lifeguard for every thirty-five children. Water activities should be supervised by lifeguards or water safety instructors certified by the American Red Cross or equivalent water safety program. Child care staff members shall review swimming and/or water safety rules with children each time they participate in water activities and there must be a system for ensuring that each child is safe when in the water. Staff/child ratio must be observed. Before swimming in natural bodies of water like lakes, rivers etc. a written permission must be signed by the parent/guardian.
TRANSPORTATION PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS
To ensure the safety and adequate administration of children traveling off the premises of the center, children shall be supervised at all times with the required staff/child ratio and . safety and first aid measures. Whenever children are transported by vehicle, a second adult shall be present or the driver shall have a means of immediate communication. At no time are children to be left unattended in a vehicle. An adult must be present in the vehicle. A written permission from the parent or guardian is needed prior to transporting or walking children off the center premises. A statement how the child will be transported will be given to parents. Seatbelts will be utilized and no child under twelve years of age will be permitted to ride in the front seat. Driver will follow safety rules and a person trained in first aid and management of communicable disease shall be present at the destination of the field trip.
TRANSPORTATION VEHICLE AND DRIVER REQUIREMENTS
All vehicles operated by the center or driven by the center staff, or vehicles used by contractors for transporting children for routine trips or field trips must be mechanically safe and shall receive an annual safety check from an automotive service excellence (ASE) certified mechanic or other entity approved by the department. Passenger restraint anchorages and passenger restraints that are suitable for use in transporting must be used.
The driver must be at least eighteen years old, holds a valid driver’s license required for the vehicle driven and free from the influence of any substance which could impair driving abilities. Copies of medical, three references, criminal records check and nonconviction statement from the public school may be used if the employed driver is from the public school system. The driver must know the proper procedures for loading, unloading and recording attendance of children, use of child safety restraints and must undergo transportation training annually.
COTS/ USE OF COTS REQUIREMENTS
Center shall provide a quiet space for children who want to rest, nap or sleep. School children who rest, nap or sleep may be provided each with a clean, washable pad, mat or comfortable furniture instead of a cot. Floors must be clean, warm, dry and draft free. Rest areas shall be well-lighted enough to allow visual supervision at all times. Evacuation routes should not be blocked. Paths should be clear for easy checking of each resting child and allow unhampered egress.
SUPERVISION, STAFF/CHILD RATIOS AND GROUPING
Supervision is not merely actively observing and guiding a child or group of children, but also being aware and responsible for the activities and needs of each child and be within sight and hearing at all times. No child below school age shall ever be left alone or unsupervised and the child care staff members should know which children they are responsible for at all times. Based on the number of children, the center shall employ the number of child care staff members needed to satisfy staff/child ratios for the center’s license capacity. Child care staff members assigned to a group of children shall be given regularly designated working hours to ensure continuity of care and supervision. The ratio of child care staff to children present at all times shall be:
|Age of children||Staff/child ratio|
|Infants (birth and under 12 months)||1 to 5 or 2 to 12 in same room|
|Infants (12 months and under 18 months)||1 to 6|
|Toddlers (18 months and under 2 1/2 years)||1 to 7|
|Toddlers (2 1/2 years and under 3 years)||1 to 8|
|Preschool – three years||1 to 12|
|Preschool – four and five years of age||1 to 14|
|School age – kindergarten to 11||1 to 18|
|School age – 11 years through 14 years||1 to 20|
When there is a combination of ages within a group of children the age of the youngest child determines the staff/child ratio. The staff/child ratio will be determined by the older children if no more than one child, two and one half years of age or older, is permanently assigned to a group in which all the other children are in the next older age group
Child care staff members shall not be counted in the staff/child ratio if they are:
- Engaged in duties that interfere with the staff’s supervision of children.
- Engaged in conversations (telephone/ parents)
To show compliance with staff/child ratios, a JFS 01306 “Employee Record Chart” that shows the following:
- The name of each employee
- Position of employee
- Date of employment.
- Group assignment if the employee is a child care staff member.
- Days and hours the employee is assigned to work and when the staff member is assigned to a group of children.
Center shall post the JFS 01310 “Required Staff/Child Ratios for Child Care Centers” in a conspicuous area at the entrance of each classroom or home base area.
There will also be a written post of:
- Every arrival and departure of each child in the center
- Arrival and departure from public school buses so as getting on and off the bus is supervised
- Release of a child to persons other than the parent or guardian
- Determining the whereabouts of an absent child who didn’t arrive at the center with the parent or guardian
- Operation plan during school/program delay or cancellation due to emergency or weather
Permission should be obtained from parents/guardian before:
- Any child may leave the center for specific activities including walking to and from the center or school, walking home or to another destination.
- School children may participate in activities in the building sponsored by other groups.
- Children may visit the next older age group for transitioning purposes.
Records of daily attendance shall be kept for each child starting on the child’s first day and daily attendance for each group shall be kept by the child care staff member assigned for the task. Written records of attendance shall be kept for a year. A copy of attendance records shall remain at the center at all times.
VENING AND OVERNIGHT CARE
A child care center is considered to be providing evening and overnight care when children are in attendance any time between the hours of seven p.m. and six a.m. During evening and overnight care the following must be ensured:
- Children are safe and the center is secure.
- Child care staff members shall remain awake at all times and supervise sleeping children.
- There is adequate lighting indoors and in parking areas, outdoor walkways and all building entrances
- Persons on the premises authorized by the administrator or owner and parents and guardians of children in care.
- Written security plan and overnight care and schedule
- Provide proper sleeping arrangements for the children and a sanitized sleeping environment and materials
ADIMINISTRATOR RESPONSIBILITIES AND QUALIFICATIONS
Administrators must have the following qualifications:
- Verified high school diploma certification of high school equivalency
by the state board of education or the appropriate agency of another
- Two years of training in an accredited college, university or technical
college verified by transcript including four courses in
child development/early childhood education or at least two years of
experience giving daily care to children attending an organized group
- Shall show evidence of at least one of the following:
- Two years practice working as a child-care staff member in a center and at least four courses in child development/ early childhood education from an accredited college, university, or technical college, Exception is a person who has two years of experience as child-care staff member in a particular center that has been promoted to or selected as administrator of that center will be given one year from the time of promotion or selection to complete the requisite four courses;
- Two years of training, including at least four courses in child development/early childhood education from an accredited college, university, or technical college;
- A national child development associate credentialing commission issues a child development associate credential
- Associate teaching position license issued by the state board of educations or associate/higher degree in child development/early childhood education from an accredited college, technical college, or university.
EMPLOYEE AND CHILD CARE STAFF MEMBER REQUIREMENTS
Every administrator, employee, and child care staff member of a child care requires the following:
- Medical examination by a licensed physician, a physician’s
assistant or a certified nurse practitioner within three years prior to the first day of employment, and every three years from date of exam verifying that the employee is:
- Free of communicable tuberculosis.
- Physically fit for employment in a facility caring for children.
- Immunized against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) except for persons born on or before December 31, 1956
- Immunized against tetanus and diphtheria. At the time the next booster for tetanus and diphtheria is due, the employee must also be immunized against pertussis (Tdap).
- Eighteen years of age and have a verified high school education or home school curriculum
- Those below eighteen who graduated from a two year vocational child care training program must provide evidence that center will verify from an approved program
- Prior to initial license issuance, each license applicant shall provide the department with three written reference statements.
- Before the first day of employment, each employee shall provide the center with three written reference statements from persons not related him/her. Center shall file documentation for each current employee that shows if applicable days and hours worked, duties and group assignments, if applicable. Department of OJDFS can access records upon request for at least three years after each employee’s departure. Parent or guardian exempted unless he/she is acting as an employee or child care staff member.
- The orientation training shall be completed within thirty days of starting employment at the center as a child care staff member. The orientation training shall include all of the following topics:
- Active supervision of children
- Appropriate child management techniques, including basic developmental expectations for the age group(s)
- Maximum required staff/child ratios and maximum group sizes
- Fieldtrip and swimming safety
- Attendance requirements
- Hand washing
- Emergencies, which staff has current first aid background
- Evacuation measures for fire, tornado, and general emergencies
- Child abuse reporting requirements
- Communicable disease policy/ which staff has current communicable disease training/ standard precautions/ communicable disease chart location
- Medication policy/ designated person(s) to administer medicines and/or treatments
- The names and ages of the children for whom the child care staff member will be responsible for and knowing their needs/concerns
- Copy of the daily schedule for the classroom(s) where the child care staff member will be working
- Parent policies addressed in the written parent policy handbook
- Rules and laws that relevant to any of the above categories
- Administrator shall review all center policies, procedures, and licensing rules relating to area of work with each employee and child care staff member at the time of employment. All employees and child care staff members shall sign a statement verifying the review and receipt a copy of the center’s parent/employee policies and procedures and medical, dental, and general emergency plan.
- Copy of the licensing rules shall be available to all staff and kept in at least one classroom, home base area or staff rest area
- Employee’s records shall be confidential, except that they shall be available to ODJFS.
*An employee may be exempt based on religious reasons or for medical reasons
JFS 01246 “Child Care Staff Member Orientation and Policy Review
Statement” will be signed by training staff and administrator to document
completion. This completed form shall be kept on file at the center.
STATEMENT OF NONCONVICTION AND CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECK
All employees including the owner/operator of a child care center, administrator or any person who has care, custody, control or alone with a child or group of children will complete the JFS 01328 “Statement of Nonconviction for Child Care Centers and Type A Homes” and filed at the center prior to issuance of provisional receipt, date of hire, annually from date of hire or signing of second adult statement.
Child care centers shall submit fingerprints according to the requirements of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII). All criminal records check results shall be dated, have an authentication number and the social security number of the person for whom the criminal records check was completed.
Those applying for employment at the center shall complete a criminal records check before the first day of employment and every four years thereafter. The center administrator shall guarantee that a person applying for employment has submitted his or her fingerprints for a BCII criminal records webcheck, including an FBI criminal records check, at a BCII authorized webcheck location.
TRAINING IN FIRST AID, CPR, MANAGEMENT OF COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION
The child care center shall have at least one child care staff member in all center buildings, readily accessible during all operating hours, who successfully completed current and valid training in:
- First aid and management of communicable disease
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) appropriate for all age groups
- Child abuse recognition and prevention. Curriculum approved by OJDFS include:
- Ohio law and rules pertaining to child abuse and neglect
- Physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse and neglect;
- Reporting, immunity and how and to whom to report
- The investigatory role of the children’s protective services agency
- Sharing of information and the role of law enforcement, licensing, and the courts in reports of child abuse and neglect
- Helping families who have cases of abuse or neglect
- Prevention of child abuse and neglect
Each child care staff member and administrator of a child care center shall complete annually after the first day of employment forty-five hours of training. This includes child development, health and safety, child abuse recognition/prevention, first aid and management of communicable disease. Child care staff member will be exempted if the child care staff member provides evidence of completion of a total of sixty semester credit hours or equivalent from an accredited university, college, or technical college with twenty-four semester credit hours or equivalent in child development, has a child development associate or Montessori pre primary/ early childhood credential.
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES.
It shall be unlawful for an owner, administrator, licensee, or child care staff member to discriminate in the enrollment of children in the child care center upon the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
PROVISION OF INFORMATION POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
The administrator shall give the custodial parent or guardian and all employees with written information concerning licensing, the program, policies and procedures of the center at the time of enrollment/employment or when there are any revisions or additions. A copy of this shall be available at the center for review by ODJFS. The parent or guardian and each employee shall sign and date a statement verifying the review and receipt of the center’s written policies and procedures.
ADMINISTRATION OF MEDICATION
The center shall set its own policy regarding whether or not the center will administer medication. If a center chooses to administer medication, food supplements, or modified diets, the center shall secure and follow the written instructions of a licensed physician, an advanced practice nurse certified to prescribe medication or a licensed dentist on the JFS 01217 “Request for Administration of Medication”. All instructions on this form shall be followed. The center shall also secure written instructions from the parent or guardian on the form. There will be designated person(s) who will administer medicines and/or treatments
PARENTAL PARTICIPATION POLICIES AND PARENT ROSTER REQUIREMENT
A written plan that will encourage parental participation and inform about the center’s programs and services will be developed by the administrator and given to parents. The plan shall be updated at least annually. The center administrator shall prepare at least once annually a dated list of names and telephone numbers of parents or guardians (upon consent) for each group of children. Upon request, this list shall be given to the parents or guardians of the children in the group.
MANAGEMENT OF ILLNESS
Child care staff must have current communicable disease training, standard precautions and follow the communicable disease chart posted readily available to staff and parents
MEDICAL DENTAL AND GENERAL EMERGENCY PLAN
The medical, dental and general emergency plan shall be implemented, when necessary, and shall be posted, readily in view. General emergencies include any threats to safety of children due to environmental situations or threats of violence, natural disasters, loss of power heat or water. “Serious incident, injury, or illness” includes any situation occurring
while a child is in care of the center that requires emergency medical treatment or professional consultation or transportation for emergency treatment. “Dental First Aid Chart” shall be completed and posted in each classroom, office space and other spaces used by children
An incident/injury report shall be accomplished by the child care staff member in charge of the child when there is an illness, accident or injury that requires first aid, a bump or blow to the head, emergency transporting, unusual or unexpected event which endangers the safety of children or staff. It is given on the day of the incident/injury to the parent, guardian, or person picking up the child from the center. In situations requiring emergency transportation, the incident/injury report shall be available at the center for at least twenty-four hours following the incident/injury.
FIRST AID SUPPLIES/ PROCEDURES
First aid supplies shall be readily available in a clean and clearly marked unlocked container and kept out of the reach of the children. A complete first aid kit shall be available on all trips and shall all field trip destinations
CHILDREN’S MEDICAL AND ENROLLMENT RECORDS
Each child attending the licensed child care center shall secure and have on file verification of a medical examination within the past twelve months. This statement shall be on file at the center. Children who attend a grade of kindergarten and above in an elementary school are exempted.
CARE OF CHILDREN WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS
A child care center providing care for children with health conditions or for children who require medical procedures shall have the parent/guardian accomplish the JFS 01236 “Medical/Physical Care Plan” or an equivalent form.
REQUIREMENTS FOR MEALS AND SNACKS
A meal shall meet one-third of the recommended daily dietary allowance. Written nutritional information will be given to parents.
DAILY PROGRAM FOR INFANTS
The center shall develop/ implement a program of activities and outdoor play suitable to the age and developmental abilities of the infants in care. A safe space -apart from the sleeping area – is designated where infants can comfortably sit, crawl, toddle, walk and play according to the stage of development.
INFANT FEEDING REQUIREMENTS
Breastfeeding shall be supported by the center. Center policies and practices shall also support the introduction of solid foods as long as developmentally appropriate and not disadvantageous to the health of the child.
A separate clean and sanitized crib shall be provided to each infant. The center shall have cribs for the total number of infants that the center is licensed to serve. Safety is considered at all times.
Ohio Licensing Contact
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
30 E. Broad Street, 32nd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
General Phone Numbers: