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More Than a Sitter

What to know before starting a child-care business
September 1, 2004

Q: Are there legal differences between baby-sitting, child care and day care? For which one would I not need a license?

A: Baby-sitters, who care for children in the children's homes, aren't licensed in any state. Child care refers to care in a facility other than a child's home and often requires licensing. Day-care centers are on commercial property, while family day care is provided in the caregiver's home. Each state defines its own parameters when licensing is required. Generally, if you intend to care for more than three children other than your own, you must be licensed.

Here are examples of how state definitions vary:

Licensing involves inspection of your facility. Some states also require you to take training courses in CPR, emergency care and child development. Visit the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care web site.

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