Everything you need to know about being a licensed child care provider.

The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) is responsible for the licensing and monitoring of child care programs in the State of Delaware. It is part of the Division of Family Services within the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF).
Two girls and boy with toys on floor at home

If you are a licensed child care provider or would like to become one, the Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) website has many resources organized into sections just for you.

There is a section “For Providers” where you can read the DELACARE Regulations for each type of child care.   There are three (3) types of licensed  child care providers.  You can learn more about each type of care as well as other resources available.

Family Child Care

Family child care takes place in a licensed home. Up to 9 children can be cared for at one time. The number of children allowed depends on: 1) the ages of the children present at any given time; and 2) the provider’s level (Level I or Level II) as determined by their training and experience.  The number of children in care can vary from 1 to 6 infants through preschool-aged children and 1 to 3 school aged children.

Large Family Child Care

A large family child care is offered in a licensed home or business location. The number of children allowed depends on the ages of the children present at any given time. It can vary from 7 to 12 infants through preschool-aged children and 1 to 3 school aged children. Depending on the number of children and their ages there needs to be one to three staff members.

Child Care Centers

Child Care Centers are in a business location and serve 13 or more children. This type of care includes child care centers, preschools, and before/after school care. Centers are licensed for a total number of children. Staff to child ratios and maximum group size must be maintained based on the youngest child present in the group. Ages served, philosophy, curriculum, costs, and services can vary from one center to another.

In the section available on the OCCL website titled, “Start a Child Care Business”  you can read a general overview of how to start the process of becoming a licensed provider.

The section, “Careers in Child Care” has additional information on the qualifications of different providers, teachers and staff in the different types of care.

Information available in the, “Regulations and Exemptions” section of the OCCL website has more details about various regulations, including the DELACARE Regulations.  There is also information about providers who might be exempt from licensure.

Comprehensive Criminal Background Checks

Comprehensive criminal background checks must be complete and on file for all new and existing staff members in a child care center. In a family child care home a criminal background check must be completed for the provider, any adult member of the household, and substitutes.

A comprehensive background check includes;

  1. A search of the state criminal and sex offender registry for all states the person has lived in over the past 5 years.
  2. A search of the state child abuse and neglect registry for all states the person has lived in over the past 5 years.
  3. A search of the national crime information center.
  4. A federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint check using the Next Generation Identification.
  5. A search of the National Sex Offender Registry.

These requirements were added due to The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014.

Find out more about the backgrounds check process at the Delaware State Police.

Fire Safety Codes

Another part of the child care licensing process is that each licensee must follow the fire safety codes and any ongoing procedures required in their location.  Approval by the specific Fire Marshal must be provided to the Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) prior to offering child care services.

Below are links to some of the Fire Marshals in Delaware:

State of Delaware Fire Marshal

City of Wilmington Fire Marshal’s Office

City of Dover Fire Marshal’s Office

My Child DE is a user-friendly website that brings together resources to help families, providers and other caretakers make informed choices for the children of Delaware. The goal of My Child DE is to help these groups feel welcome, informed and empowered to engage, learn and take the next steps needed to support children.