Your Guide to Starting a Childcare Center in the SF Bay Area

Do you love children? Does caring for them inspire you? If you answered yes to these questions, then you should start a childcare center. If you live in the SF Bay Area, you would probably know that the supply of care providers in this location does not match the demand for child care needs. This means you have good chances of running a successful family child care center here. Here is what it takes to get started in the childcare business.

#1 Research About the Demand

To estimate the demand for childcare services in your area or neighborhood, visit the Local Child Care Planning Council (LPC). They will provide you information about the counties with the highest demands and the priorities you need to fulfill to meet those demands. Search for large family child care centers in the SF Bay Area at California Community Care Licensing Division. This would help you find out the locations where you should not open a center. Select a location where you have higher chances of running a profitable center.

#2 Understand the Business Structure

There are two types of child care business that you can start in your area: childcare center or family child care in home-setting. Child care centers have multi-classroom facility where children are grouped together with same-age peers and some have mixed age group classrooms. Family child care centers have standard indoor and outdoor playgrounds and provide individualized care to each children. If you are starting out your own business, we would recommend you to go for small, family day care center to offer pesonalized care to the children in your community.

#3 Get Licenses and Permits

The Child Care Licensing Division (CCLD) of the Department of Social Services (DSS) provide permits and licenses to childcare centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and all the counties of California. First, you have to attend an orientation class offered by the CCLD and then apply for licensing after successfully completing its session. In the application, provide the following information – type of child care center (or day care) you want to open, number of children you are planning to look after, age groups of those children, property information (rent, lease or it is your own), whether it is a for-profit or non-profit business, and other compliance and health & safety information.

#4 Undergo Training

There are strict laws around operating a child care center in California, whether it a small one or large day care center. You must be above 18 years of age and need to undergo criminal background verification. You must show past clearance cerificate for child or sex abuse and submit fingerprints. You will have to attend health training programs for emergency preparedness, first aid, CPR, child nutrition, health issues, sanitary, and more. Your child care setting will be inspected by a professional to see if it meets all the regulations stated by CCLD, is free from hazards and has good fencing and safety features.

#5 Take Help

Starting a child care business is a big deal and may seem overwhelming seeing all the regulations and requirements that you have to meet before your center becomes operational. I, Marilyn Randolph, am a child care professional and have been in the business for more than 25 years now. I provide small business coaching services in the SF Bay Area to help business owners like you make their dream a reality. From business planning, licensing, enrollments, marketing to understanding taxes & liabilities, I can help you with everything. Sign up for my child care business coaching program here.


The demand for child care is high in California and there are good chances that you can achieve success in this business with proper guidance and training. I can assist you with all your needs – how to conduct research, obtain license, get permits, undergo inspections, decide your business structure, increase enrolments, and more – by providing small business coaching services in the SF Bay Area. Schedule an appointment here.

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