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Get Licensed as a Child Care Center
Get Licensed as a Child Care Center
It is illegal in the State of Michigan to provide child care services without being licensed by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS), Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing (BCAL).
Step I - You must read the Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers and the Child Care Organizations Act (1973 PA 116) prior to submitting your online application. Upon receipt of your application, a rule book and the Child Care Organizations Act will be sent to you.
Internet Explorer is required to complete the online application.
Note: You must have a credit card or a personal checking account to pay the fee online (Discover or American Express Cards are not accepted). If you do not have one of these, click here.
THE FEE IS NON-REFUNDABLE. The fee is based on the capacity of the child care center:
EXPLANATION OF THE LICENSING PROCESS FOR CHILD CARE CENTERS
Rules and Procedures
Become familiar with the Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers and the following procedures in order to assist you in the licensing process.
A license is issued to a specific person or organization at a specific location, is non-transferable and remains the property of the DHS. Therefore, an application to establish a child care center must be for a specific location.
In the event you have several sites in mind, a licensing consultant may be able to provide you with professional advice.
Prior to submitting an application, you must contact local zoning authorities to see if operating a child care center is allowed in the proposed area.
Contact with Licensing Consultant
Make an appointment with your consultant to discuss the Child Care Organizations Act (1973 PA 116) and the Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers. In signing the application, you agree to operate the center in compliance with the Act and Rules. You will want an opportunity to gain a clear understanding of the total process and have time to ask questions. Consultation and technical assistance from DHS are provided without charge to applicants.
FIRE SAFETY INSPECTION - It will be your responsibility to make arrangements for a fire safety inspection by a qualified fire safety inspector. A list of qualified fire safety inspectors can be found that the Fire Safety Inspection link above. The completed fire safety inspection report must be forwarded to the licensing consultant. If new construction or remodeling will occur, a set of plans must also be submitted to the Bureau of Fire Services for a plan review. More information on plan reviews can be found at www.michigan.gov/bfs.
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH INSPECTION - It is your responsibility to arrange for an environmental health inspection with the local health department by sending the Environmental Health Inspection Request (BCAL-1787) to the appropriate local health department. The BCAL-1787 and information on determining the appropriate local health department are included in the Original Center Application Packet. A fee may be charged. The completed inspection report will be forwarded to the licensing consultant by the health department completing the inspection.
A child care center applicant considering new construction, renovation or structural modification of the kitchen, bathroom, or food preparation or food storage area may also be required to submit a set of plans with the BCAL-1787. Contact the local health department regarding plan reviews. If the local health department will not do a plan review, the applicant must provide documentation of this to BCAL.
PLAYGROUND SAFETY INSPECTION - It is your responsibility to ensure the playground equipment, use zones and surfacing in the outdoor play area comply with licensing rule 400.8170(11). This is usually determined by having a playground inspection. See the playground inspection webpage for more information on playground inspections and documentation of playground safety.
LEAD HAZARD RISK ASSESSMENT - It is your responsibility to obtain a lead hazard risk assessment if the building was built prior to 1978. The lead hazard risk assessment must be completed by a certified lead risk assessor. A list of certified lead risk assessors and more information on lead risk hazard assessments can be found at www.michigan.gov/leadsafe. For any lead hazard risk assessments obtained after January 1, 2014, the Lead Hazard Risk Assessment Summary (BCAL-4344) form must be included with the lead hazard risk assessment.
OTHER INSPECTIONS - It is your responsibility to obtain the following inspections, as applicable:
Upon receipt of any required inspection reports, your licensing consultant will notify you of the department's preliminary findings. Any work requested in these reports must be completed and your licensing consultant notified of completion.
LICENSING CONSULTANT'S INSPECTION - Your licensing consultant will make an on-site inspection during the licensing process. Your licensing consultant may take pictures to document their findings. Through discussion with the licensing consultant, the scheduling of the inspection will be arranged at a mutually satisfactory time.
Supporting Documents and Policies
Prior to the final licensing determination, the following will need to be submitted, by mail or in person, to your licensing consultant for review and approval:
Sample emergency plans can be found on the Resources page of the BCAL website.
If the proposed center will be providing care for specific age groups of children, or other program components, additional licensing rule areas will need to be discussed, such as:
Technical assistance is provided by BCAL on how providers can comply with the child care licensing rules.
Licensing Study Report
When all necessary materials and documents, including fire safety and environmental health inspection reports, have been submitted and reviewed, any necessary corrections have been made, and an on-site inspection has been conducted, a determination will be made with regard to licensure.
If the decision is to issue you a license, you will receive notification from the Department of Human Services, Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing. The letter will indicate when the center may begin caring for children. This original provisional license is valid for six months. After six months, a renewal inspection will be conducted by your licensing consultant. If the center is in compliance with the rules, a regular license will be issued. This license must be renewed every two years.
If the licensing decision is to deny your application, you have the right to appeal the decision in accordance with the Child Care Organizations Act (1973 PA 116), MCL 722.121(2).
While your center is licensed, inspections by a licensing consultant will be made annually and if a compliant is received.
As an applicant, you can expect the licensing process to take up to six months to complete after you submit a complete application packet. Individual circumstances may effect the actual time required to issue your license. The amount of time required in issuing the license will depend upon completion of:
ESTIMATED CENTER START-UP COSTS
There may be a number of additional expenses, such as:
These costs will vary greatly depending on the size of the center, number of staff, capacity of children, and repairs needed as a result of inspections.
This is intended to be a very rough estimate of the possible costs involved in opening and maintaining a child care center. Actual cost incurred may differ.
It is recommended that you obtain zoning approval, a fire inspection and a lead risk assessment (if the building was built prior to 1978) before signing a lease or contract, as required repairs and fees may determine whether the location should be used. Always get good estimates of work and expected costs before making a commitment.
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