More Than a Sitter

What to know before starting a child-care business
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This story appears in the September 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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:

  • California exempts family day care from licensing requirements if it involves children of only one family.
  • Florida requires a license when child care is provided for more than five children unrelated to the operator.
  • Texas requires a license when there are seven or more children at a location other than the permit holder's home.

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.

Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards' new book is The Best Home Businesses for People 50+. Send them questions at or in care of Entrepreneur.

Edition: July 2017

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