Family Child Care Providers

What is a Family Child Care Provider?

Family child care providers offer care in their own home to one or more children who aren’t related to the provider. To ensure a safe environment, Maryland limits the number of children in a family child care home:

Family Child Care Home – A provider may care for up to eight children with no more than two under the age of two.  The provider’s own children under the age of six are counted within the group of eight.

Large Family Child Care Home – A provider may care for between nine and 12 children with no more than two under the age of two.  The provider’s own children under the age of six are counted within the group of nine to 12.

Family child care is regulated under the Code of Maryland Regulations COMAR 13A.15, which require that you obtain a "certificate of registration" (which is a form of license) before you operate a family child care program. Being registered means your program meets the child health and safety requirements established by the state. It also makes you eligible for tax deductions, certain food subsidies, and liability insurance. These benefits make your family child care home more appealing to parents, which  is also good for your business.

What about before and after school care?

As a licensed provider, you are eligible to provide care for children during the hours you have been approved for -- including before they attend school and in the hours after school before their parents get of work.

Do you want to become a family child care provider?

Watch our slideshow “How to become a family child care provider” to learn about the step-by-step process of becoming a family child care provider in Maryland.

Is this the career for you?

Being a family child care provider is both rewarding and challenging. Before you set out on this path, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I enjoy working with children?
  2. Am I knowledgeable about child development or willing to learn?
  3. Am I interested in running a competitive business in my own home?
  4. Would I like to be able to set my own hours and/or wages?
  5. Can I afford to lose income and/or benefits while my business grows?

If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, you may have the interests and skills needed to start a family child care business. Read on.

Contact Us

Connect with your Regional Licensing Office to learn about the licensing process and find out when the next Orientation sessions will be scheduled.

How to become a family child care provider

  • Getting Started

    To take a virtual orientation on your computer, select the link below that matches the type of child care business you would like to start.  The orientation includes videos, interactive activities and audio narration. You should expect to spend about one hour going through the orientation. But if you need to take a break during the hour, you can pause the orientation and return at a later time. 

    This session will walk you through all of the steps you need to take and it will connect you to all of the forms that you need to complete.

    Family Child Care
    Large Family Child Care 
    Child Care Center

    After you work through the required orientation, the appropriate regional office of child care will be notified that you have successfully completed it.  You must click on every screen in the orientation in order to successfully complete it. 

  • Orientation Sessions

    ConfidentialThe orientation session informs you about the application process and the requirements you’ll need to meet to receive a certificate of registration. During the session, you will learn about the forms to complete:

    • An application form asking for your name, address, references, and other information
    • A medical evaluation form for yourself and each resident in your home
    • A written emergency escape plan
    • A substitute form naming a responsible adult to be in temporary charge of your program if you are called away on an emergency
    • Releases of information to permit OCC to conduct child abuse and neglect clearances for you and adult residents of your home
  • Complete an Orientation Sessions

    You’ll also need to complete criminal background check forms and fingerprint cards for yourself and each adult resident of your home and send them to the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). There is a fee, payable to CJIS, to process the background check. The fingerprinting fee varies in different parts of the state.

  • Complete Pre-Service Training

    In addition, you also need to complete the following requirements, all of which will make you a better provider for the children in your care:

    • 24 clock hours of required training in the areas of child development, program curriculum, child health and safety, the care of children with disabilities, provider professionalism, and community resources
    • CPR and First Aid Certification for the child age-ranges for which you’ll be providing care
    • Emergency and disaster preparedness
    • Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • Support for breastfeeding mothers
    • If you plan to provide care to children younger than two years of age, you must complete SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) training.
  • Make Sure Your Home is Safe and Properly Equipped

    A safe physical environment is important for child care no matter what the age of the children. Examples of how you can make sure your home is "child safe" include:

    • Using baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs or where there might be a hazard
    • Covering electrical sockets
    • Placing child safety locks on cabinets, drawers, and doors in child care areas
    • Making sure that household cleansers, medicines, tools, sharp implements, weapons, and other harmful items are all inaccessible to children
    • Having smoke detectors in each room where the children will nap or rest
    • Maintaining a first aid kit
  • Complete Pre-Service Training

    Seal of approvalAll pre-service training courses must be approved by the OCC. Before you sign up for a course, check with the Regional Licensing Office to make sure the course has been approved. See the on-line training calendar and the list of local resource and referral offices for more information.

  • Make Sure Your Home is Safe and Properly Equipped

    Child opens drawerA safe physical environment is important for child care no matter what the age of the children. Examples of how you can make sure your home is "child safe" include:

    • Using baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs or where there might be a hazard
    • Covering electrical sockets
    • Placing child safety locks on cabinets, drawers, and doors in child care areas
    • Making sure that household cleansers, medicines, tools, sharp implements, weapons, and other harmful items are all inaccessible to children
    • Having smoke detectors in each room where the children will nap or rest
    • Maintaining a first aid kit
  • Make Sure Your Home is Safe and Properly Equipped

    Making sure your home is properly equipped for child care is essential for your program. Here are examples of the equipment family child care providers usually need:

    • Cribs, playpens, cots, and/or mats for children to nap or rest on
    • A variety of age-appropriate toys, games, books, and art materials
    • High chairs or booster seats
    • Outdoor play equipment and toys
    • Strollers.
  • Pass OCC, Fire Safety, and Other Required Inspections

    Once everything is in place, at least two home inspection visits will be made. First, an OCC licensing specialist will make sure your home meets family child care regulations. The licensing specialist will review the Self Assessment Guide with you and answer any questions you have. Your home will be inspected by the local fire authority.

    Depending on where your home is located, other inspections by the Health Department or other local government agencies may be required. There are no fees for any inspections conducted by the Regional Licensing Office. However, there may be fees for inspections by the local fire authority, Health Department, and/or other local agencies.

  • Pass OCC, Fire Safety, and Other Required Inspections

    AuthorizationAfter all requirements have been met and all inspections have been passed, the OCC Regional Licensing Office will issue a certificate of registration to you.

  • Pass OCC, Fire Safety, and Other Required Inspections

    All newly registered family child care homes are authorized to operate for a period of two years. At the end of that period, a continuing (i.e., non-expiring) registration may be issued. You must submit an application for continuing, non-expiring status. A non-expiring registration may also be placed on probationary status if the family child care provider does not comply with the requirements. If failure continues, the provider's registration may be suspended or revoked.

    Child well being is the OCC’s number one priority -- providers must meet all requirements on an ongoing basis.

  • Pass OCC, Fire Safety, and Other Required Inspections

    AuthorizationAll registered family child care homes are routinely inspected at least once every 12 months. All inspections are unannounced “drop-in” visits that determine whether the requirements and child needs are being met.

  • CONGRATULATIONS!

    As soon as you receive your certificate of registration, you are ready to open your family child care home for business! The following are some resources that may help get your business started:

    Maryland Child Care Resource Network is a statewide network of agencies that helps parents find child care. These agencies also provide training and support services to child care facilities.

    The Family Day Care Provider Grant Program reimburses registered providers who meet income eligibility requirements for up to $500 in costs related to meeting the requirements of the family child care regulations.

    LOCATE: Child Care helps families to find child care services including services for children with special needs.

    Maryland EXCELS is a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) that recognizes the accomplishments of early childhood and school-age programs.