Do I need a day care license for only one family at a time?
July 26, 2012 1:02 PM   Subscribe

The California law regarding Family Day Cares says I'm exempt from licensure if there's only one family in addition to my own children. Does this mean only one other family at a time, or over the course of some arbitrary period (a week, month, etc.)?

CA Health and Safety Code Section 1596.792 (d) (referring to licensing requirements) says it doesn't apply to "Any family day care home providing care for the children of only one family in addition to the operator's own children." It also says it doesn't apply until 2014 ("(n) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2014.")

This ambiguity is important to us. My wife decided she doesn't want to be an unemployed teacher anymore, and wants instead to watch the kids of our various friends out of our home. In addition to our own kid, there would only ever be one family's kids at a time (at any given instant), but she may get a different family's kid on different days. No more than 3 kids total including our own.

Is this within the letter of the law? Is it at least a reasonable interpretation of the law? Do we need a Family Day Care license? We are sort of ok going about getting a license if necessary, but I'd rather not have to if we don't need to.

I'm not trying to find a loophole here, but I'm also not interested in suggestions to get a license anyway just to be safe. It's expensive and time consuming to babyproof our house to the State's standards above and beyond just what our friends need (liability insurance, fire code, safety training and regulation babyproofing, etc.).

The Department of Social Services web site is more interested in defining the licensing requirements than giving great detail on when one doesn't need a license (and rightly so).

I'm also sort of curious about the section that says this doens't take effect until 2014. What is the law right now then?

(looking through other mefi threads, maybe this would more appropriately be called babysitting than day care? It's sort of like nannying, but out of our home, not the kids' homes)
posted by toomanyplugs to Law & Government (7 answers total)
California lawyer, but this isn't legal advice. I would not read that as ambiguous -- I think you can only watch one other family's kids without requiring a license. My older daughter's preschool got shut down by the DSS for operating without a license; they thought they were exempt under a different provision of the law that was more ambiguous than this. Generally speaking I think the Department wants childcare providers to be licensed.

The current version of the law is pretty much identical in terms of how it applies to you. Here is subdivision (d) of the current version:

"(d) Any family day care home providing care for the children of only one family in addition to the operator's own children."
posted by xeney at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would contact someone at DSS directly and ask. Interpreting the regs is their job, not yours.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:25 PM on July 26, 2012

No clue about the does not apply until 2014 aspect, but I'd gander that the string of text to pay attention to is: of only one family (in addition to the operator's own children).

It does not say "at a time"

Not a lawyer, not a Californian, not legal advise, not a child care provider... but I do work in a related field and read (a different) State guidelines often.

Do what elsietheeel says though.
posted by edgeways at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2012

Try to also look at the whole picture of what a license can afford you. Home daycare start up and licensing can be expensive, but the baby proofing and supplies needed to run the daycare then become business expenses. Even if the family provides food/diapers/supplies you will need extra things and those also become business expenses.
posted by Swisstine at 2:09 PM on July 26, 2012

Oops, and to answer the question. During my time working with/in the licensing agency for child care in my county (in Nor Cal) the provision was explained to me as one other family total. Basically to allow for the stay at home mom/dad taking a frien's kids for the summer or as after school care. Your county agency might be different.
posted by Swisstine at 2:14 PM on July 26, 2012

Hmm, looks like I need to talk this over more with the missus. Sounds like I was misinterpreting the wording. I think it's best if I call DSS. Thanks!
posted by toomanyplugs at 3:29 PM on July 26, 2012

I run a Licensed Family Day Care out of my home, but I'm in Wisconsin. Our state regulations say that we can have no more than 3 children that are not our own. More than 3 requires a license. For the state to say that you can care for children from one other family seems kind of vague to me. What if there are 10 children in that family? I checked on the regulations for the state of California and found this:

(f) (1) "Family Day Care" or "Family Child Care" means regularly provided care, protection and
supervision of children, in the care giver's own home, for periods of less than 24 hours per day,
while the parents or authorized representatives are away. The term "Family Child Care"
supersedes the term "Family Day Care" as used in previous regulations.

(A) "Small Family Child Care Home" means a home that provides family child care for up to
six children, or for up to eight children if the criteria in Section 102416.5(b) are met.
These capacities include children under age 10 who live in the licensee's home.

(B) "Large Family Child Care Home" means a home that provides family child care for up to
12 children, or for up to 14 children if the criteria in Section 102416.5(c) are met. These
capacities include children under age 10 who live in the licensee's home and the assistant
provider's children under age 10.

102357 OPERATION WITHOUT A LICENSE (Continued) 102357

(b) The Department shall have the authority to issue an immediate civil penalty pursuant to Section 102393
and Section 1596.891 of the Health and Safety Code which provides:
(1) A person who violates Section 1596.80 of the Health and Safety Code may be liable for an
immediate assessment of civil penalties in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200) per day.
(2) The penalty specified in Section 102357(b)(1) shall be imposed if the operator of an unlicensed
facility refuses to seek licensure or the operator seeks licensure and is denied but continues to

Just a word of advice. Don't try to pull one over on the state by caring for more children than you are allowed. They come down hard on providers that do that!

Read more about your state's regulations here:
posted by sybarite09 at 5:34 AM on July 30, 2012

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