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How to Start a Home Day Care in Kansas

Updated on December 1, 2015

How to Start a Home Day Care in Kansas



I am not associated with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment nor am I associated with any Kansas licensing or child care entities.

Am I Required to Become Licensed?

According to Lexie's Law, passed in 2010, anyone who provides care for one or more unrelated children for a total of twenty or more hours per week must become licensed with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). This may seem like a daunting task, but not only is it relatively simple it also provides a safety net for both parents and providers. Maintaining your home day care at or above state standards helps keeps children safe and also keeps providers accountable and organized.

Don't skip the licensing process. If you're caught running an illegally unlicensed daycare in Kansas, you will be required to pay a fine of $500 per day that you were in operation.

Check for Local City and County Regulations

The first step in the process of becoming licensed for a home day care in Kansas should be to check with the city and county you live in for local regulations. In some areas, cities or counties have their own rules for home businesses. For example, in the city I live in it is required that the owner and operator of the home daycare actually lives in the home. This is important if you plan to rent a separate house to run your day care out of.

Some cities and counties also require that providers pay extra fees directly to them for running a home business. Where I live, an extra $80 is paid directly to the county in addition to the fees the state requires.

Choose Your License Type


Licensed Day Care Home or Group Day Care Home?

There are two choices in type of license when applying for a home daycare in the state of Kansas: licensed day care home and group day care home. The main differences between the two are the amount of children you can legally watch at any given time and the number of providers required to be on the premises during day care hours. The amount of children you can legally care for at any time includes your own children for both license types.

Group day care homes are also required to post certain information in a location that parents can see (such as diapering procedures).

With a group day care home license, you can operate with one provider as long as you are following the license capacities outlined in the first and second tables below. If you would like to increase your license capacity, like in the third or fourth tables below, a second provider is required. Keep in mind that if you operate under the third or fourth tables and your second provider becomes unavailable then you will need to send children home until you are operating legally.

Licensed Day Care Home Child Ratios - 1 Provider Required

Maximum Number of Children Under 18 Months
Maximum Number of Children at Least 18 Months but Under 5 Years
Maximum Number of Children at Least 5 Years but Under 11 Years
License Capacity
Source: Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Kansas Laws and Regulations For Licensing Day Care Homes and Group Day Care Homes; July 2015

Group Day Care Home Ratios - 1 Provider

Age of Children Enrolled
License Capacity
At Least 2 1/2 Years but Under 11 Years
At Least 3 Years but Under 11 Years
At Least 5 Years but Under 11 Years
Source: Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Kansas Laws and Regulations For Licensing Day Care Homes and Group Day Care Homes; July 2015

Group Day Care Home Child Ratios - At Least 2 Providers

Maximum Number of Children Under 18 Months
Maximum Number of Children at Least 18 Months but Under 5 Years
Maximum Number of Children at Least 5 Years but Under 11 Years
License Capacity
Source: Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Kansas Laws and Regulations For Licensing Day Care Homes and Group Day Care Homes; July 2015

Group Day Care Home Child Ratios - At Least 2 Providers

Maximum Number of Children Under 18 Months
Maximum Number of Children at Least 18 Months but Under 2 1/2 Years
Maximum Number of Children at Least 2 1/2 Years but Under 11 Years
License Capacity
Source: Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Kansas Laws and Regulations For Licensing Day Care Homes and Group Day Care Homes; July 2015

Which License are you Considering?

Are you considering a Licensed Day Care Home or Group Day Care Home license?

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Learn About Kansas's Day Care License Regulations


Attend Your County's Licensing Orientation

Every new applicant is required to attend an orientation provided by their county's licensor before they can even apply for a license. Orientations are usually located at your county's health department.

The information provided during the orientation mostly concerns what's required to operate a licensed or group day care home. You'll be awarded a certificate with 2 training clock hours, but the class doesn't usually last the whole two hours. Those clock hours can be used towards the required fifteen hours of training needed to become licensed.

At orientation, you'll receive a paper copy of the regulation book (if not, ask for one). You'll need to keep this on file and available to parents at all times while operating your day care.

Contact your local health department or KDHE to find orientation times in your area.

Study Licensing Regulation Book

This is a very important step in starting your home day care. Every provider should know the rules and regulations inside and out. This is not only for the safety of the children you care for, but also to keep yourself protected.

Many licensors in Kansas define the rules and regulations as they see fit. My county licensor insisted that group day care homes must have two providers present at all times regardless of the ages or numbers of children being cared for. The regulation book clearly states that "a second provider shall be present when the number of children exceeds the maximum number allowed for one provider". If I followed her instructions then I would have been out of business pretty quickly. There's just no way to keep an employee when you don't have very many children enrolled at any given time.

A provider friend in a neighboring county was told by her licensor that the doors to her home were required to be unlocked during day care hours. I contacted the state to confirm this (my day care home was on an unsafe and busy street) and was told that there is nothing in the regulations to support the licensor's claims.

If you feel that your licensor has interpreted a regulation incorrectly and insists that you follow their way please contact KDHE for assistance and get their answer in writing. It's important for all providers in Kansas that all of the state's regulations are interpreted exactly as they are defined. If your licensor is wrong and something happens on your watch the responsibility will ultimately be on your shoulders; not your licensor's.

Begin the Application Process


Complete the Licensing Application

The Kansas home day care licensing application is filled out and submitted online. It's fairly easy to complete, but the KDHE website does provide instructions and videos on its website to assist applicants. KDHE's Provider Portal will be where you renew your day care's application annually as well as where you will update background checks for those affiliated with your day care (employees or people over 10 years old living in your home).

Simply create a user ID and password in the Provider Portal and follow KDHE's instructions to complete your application. It may take as long as 90 days before your initial licensing inspection is scheduled. You should receive a temporary license in the mail within 30 days of submitting your application, though. Post this temporary license where parents can see it until you have your annual license (and then post your permanent license in its place).

Pay Day Care Licensing Fees

After you have completed your application online, you will be given an option to pay the state's licensing fees right there in the Provider Portal. You may also mail in these fees, but to speed the application process it's recommended that you pay online.

Don't forget to pay any associated fees to your city or county. Your day care won't be able to legally operate until all of your state, county, and/or city fees have been received.

As of July 2015, KDHE charges $75 plus $1 times the maximum number of children the provider is licensed for. Licensed day care homes pay a fee of $85 and group day care homes pay a fee of $87. These fees are due annually.

Complete All Paperwork for Yourself, Employees, and Those Living in Your Home

Make sure that you read the regulation book and speak to your county's licensor to make sure you know exactly what paperwork will need to be on file for yourself, anyone living in your home, and any employees you may hire.

A few examples of what is required to be on file:

  • Health Assessment for all providers - these must be completed no earlier than 1 year and no later than 30 days from the application date or hire date for employees
  • Tuberculin Test - required for all providers and for everyone 16 years or older living in your home. These must be completed no earlier than two years and no later than 30 days from application or hire date
  • KDHE Background Check - this must be completed for every provider and for everyone older than 10 years old living in the home

Don't Forget Paperwork for Your Pets!

All of your pets must also have paperwork on file. Cats and dogs must be up-to-date on all of their immunizations and records of all shots must be on file. Also, make sure that your animal is registered and licensed through your city or county, if your local government requires it.

Please see the regulation book to make sure that your particular pets are legally allowed to be on the property during day care hours. Certain breeds and types of animals are not allowed.

Obtain Required Child Care Training

The Kanas Department of Health and Environment requires every provider to be up-to-date on child care related training each year. As a new applicant, you are required to complete fifteen clock hours of Professional Development Training (PDT is training that is approved by KDHE and is related to the care of children). There are certain courses that all providers are required to take, but luckily the clock hours you receive for those can be used towards the fifteen hour requirement.

Required Provider Training:

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent (cannot be used towards fifteen required clock hours)
  • Pediatric First-Aid and CPR
  • 2 clock hours of Safe Sleep Practices and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - required if you will be caring for children under 12 months old (this course can be found online for free, so take it regardless of whether you think you'll be caring for infants)
  • 2 clock hours in basic Child Development
  • 2 clock hours of recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect - course must include the prevention of head trauma

There are ways to avoid having to complete the fifteen clock hour requirement. You are exempt if you have a Child Development Associate credential, have worked for a day care or child care center for at least 3 months (facility has to have been in operation for at last three years), or meet KDHE's requirements to be a child care center program director.

If you don't fall into any of those categories to avoid the fifteen required clock hours, don't worry! Completing fifteen hours is simple and there are several KDHE approved sources that offer courses online. It's a good idea to consider taking a course in something like child care bookkeeping to help keep you on track on the back end of running a business.

Prepare Your Home and Vehicle for Day Care


Prepare Your Home for Day Care

Now that you've applied for your Kansas home day care license and completed all of the required paperwork it's time to prep your house for children.

Every home day care is different and you'll want to add your own special touches to your environment. For the most part, it's up to you to design and organize your child care spaces the way you would like to. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Is your diaper changing station near a hand washing source?
  • Are hazardous materials in locked areas away from little hands? (you can't even keep toothpaste in an unlocked area!)
  • Do you have gates at both the top and bottom of stairs?
  • Do you have safety plugs in all electrical outlets?
  • Is there a working phone with a list of emergency contacts on the premises and readily available? (your cell phone will work for this requirement)
  • Do you have a working fire extinguisher?

You definitely need to make sure you have read the regulation book thoroughly to make sure that your day care spaces are up to licensing rules.

Complete a Fire and Life Safety Agreement

This is a form provided by the Office of the State Fire Marshal in Kansas. You will need to make an appointment with the fire marshal (ask your licensor for this information) so they can inspect your home.

The fire marshal will inspect all day care areas, confirm that both exits are safe, check all electrical outlets for coverings, inspect and test smoke detectors, and go over your emergency plans to determine they're appropriate for your area.

An extra inspection seems like a pain, but this step really is pretty simple. As long as you have everything in order according to both licensing and the fire marshal's regulations then you'll be just fine.

Prepare Your Vehicle for Day Care

If you will be transporting children at all during day care hours then you will need to prepare your vehicle. Other than having a clean, safe, working vehicle there are a few things that licensing requires:

  • Only drivers who are 18 years or older can transport day care children
  • A Yearly Mechanical Safety Check form must be on file annually (it's a good idea to have a copy with your other paperwork inside the home as well as a copy in a binder in the vehicle)
  • Vehicle insurance: accident and liability insurance is required for all vehicles transporting day care children (not less than $100,000 for personal injury or death in one accident, $300,000 for injury or death to two or more people in one accident, $50,000 for the loss to property of others)
  • Keep a binder in the vehicle with your annual Yearly Mechanical Safety Check form as well as Health Assessments, Emergency Release Forms, and Off-Premise Trip forms for all children
  • First-aid Kit: Band-Aids of all sizes, adhesive tape, roll of gauze, scissors, one package of 4x4 inch gauze squares, a cleansing agent, and one elastic bandage
  • Individual restraints and/or car seats for every child

Create a Parent Policy Handbook


Include Necessary Information About Your Day Care in a Parent Policy Handbook

The parent policy handbook is your main tool in keeping both licensing and parents informed of your day care's policies. Many of these will be decisions you have made in order to run your business smoothly such as operating hours and tuition fees, but there are a few things that are required by KDHE:

  • An outline of your Supervision Plan - what rooms will the children be in during play time? where will they be while you prepare meals? where will they be during times you have to use the restroom? how will you keep them safe and secure during these times?
  • Safe Sleep Plan - how and where will infants and children sleep? will you sleep infants on their back and in a crib or playpen alone? where will you be while they sleep? will you be washing bedding at least weekly?
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan - there is an entire section on the KDHE website that is dedicated to helping providers create an emergency preparedness plan. Your plan will include what you plan to do during floods, severe weather, fire, etc.
  • Illness Policy - the regulation book includes an extensive list of symptoms that require exclusion from day care. It's recommended that you use it and create policies that go above and beyond those listed.

Like I've mentioned several times before, make sure you know the regulation book inside and out. You don't want to miss anything that might be required in your parent policy handbook.

This article is about starting a day care, but I have to add that none of your policies mean anything unless you stick to them 100% with parents (if your policy is to charge a late fee then do it; if your policy is to refuse care if fees have not been paid then send them away at the door; if your policy is to not allow children with undiagnosed rashes then turn them away, etc.)

Collect and File Required Paperwork for Children in your Care


Create Files for Each Child

Each child in your day care (including your own) must have their own file with all required paperwork included and up-to-date. Go through every single line and make sure that they are filled out properly. Incomplete or missing paperwork is the main "ding" during licensing inspections. If a child is missing something then you must decline care until you've received it. Do not ever care for a child for "just a few days" while you wait for their parents to get paperwork back to you.

Required Paperwork for Children's Files:

  • Authorization for Emergency Medical Care - this is a KDHE form that provides written permission from the child's parent/guardian that allows emergency medical treatment at a local hospital or clinic in the case of an emergency
  • Medical Record - this is a KDHE form that is filled out by the child's parent/guardian. It includes contact information for the child's parents/guardians, who is permitted to pick the child up from day care, the child's physician and dentist contact information, and basic health questions about the child.
  • History of Immunizations - this is a KDHE form that may be filled out by the parent/guardian to list all immunizations that the child has received. A Kansas Certificate of Immunizations can be used in place of this form (take a copy of the KCI for the child's file)
  • Immunization Exemption - there are only two ways that a child may be exempt from providing an immunization record: the child's physician has determined that some or all immunizations will endanger the child's life or the child's parent/guardian is a member of a religious denomination whose teachings are opposed to immunizations. If either of these situations apply, then Section II of the KDHE History of Immunizations form must be completed and on file. If the exemption is for health reasons, the child's physician must sign and date Section II.
  • Child Health Assessment - this is a KDHE form that is filled out and signed by the child's physician or a nurse. It includes basic information about the child's health such as any information that would be important during an emergency, allergies, current medications, height and weight, health abnormalities, and any special treatment the child may need.
  • Short and/or Long Term Medication Authorization - these KDHE forms are used when a child requires a medication to be administered during day care hours. It includes strict instructions for how medications must be labeled. Providers are required to follow the form's instructions and not deviate from what has been filled out.
  • Parental Permission for Off-Premise Trips -this KDHE form is used as written permission from the child's parent/guardian for every single place the provider could possibly take the child. If it's not on the list and signed by a parent/guardian, then absolutely may not take the child there. The form also includes an area for children who walk to and/or from school. For one time trips like field trips, providers must use the Parental Permission for Off-Premise Trips Group of Children to One Location form.

Enjoy Your Licensed Home Day Care!


Have Your Home Day Care Inspection

After about 90 days, your licensor will inspect your home to make sure that every single regulation is being withheld. This will be your only scheduled visit so take advantage of the fact that you know when they'll arrive. It's fine if you don't have any children to care for yet; they'll observe you with children at your annual renewal inspection.

Be confident as you go through your day care home with your licensor. By now you know all of the regulations inside and out so you can easily lead the way through this visit. Take your licensor through each room and point out everything you know they will be looking for (smoke detectors, electrical outlet plugs, locked cabinets containing hazardous materials, knives locked away or on top of the fridge, etc.). This will not only show our licensor that you're prepared, but also help speed the process along. No matter how fast the actual inspection goes, the licensing laptops are notoriously slow. Be patient with them.

Since this time around you'll know exactly when your licensor will be inspecting your home it should be fairly easy to have your house 100% compliant with licensing regulations. If there happens to be something that you miss, your licensor will record it and they will come back by your home within one week to re-inspect the missed regulations.

Take a Deep Breath!

You've done it! You are officially a licensed home day care provider in the state of Kansas! Woohoo!

Now take what you've learned and use the next year to prep yourself for your annual renewal inspection.


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