Become a Licensed Child Care & Early Learning Provider

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families licenses approximately 6,000 child care centers and family home child care providers in Washington. Licensed child care providers follow minimum licensing requirements set by the state to ensure children in licensed care are in safe, healthy, and nurturing places.

If you are caring for several children on a regular basis, you may need a license. Families choose different kinds of child care to meet their needs. Some caregivers do not need a license, including informal parent cooperatives, and family, friends and neighbors who provide occasional care. 

Who Needs a License

There are several types of licensed child care in Washington.

  • Family home child care providers who care for children in a provider's home.
  • Child care centers that offer care in commercial, privately owned, school or faith-based spaces.
  • School-age programs that provide care for children ages 5 through 12 when school is out and are often located on school grounds, in commercial spaces, privately owned or faith-based locations.
DCYF Licensing Rules 

The regulations known as rules, Washington Administrative Code, or WAC, set the standards for child care that is licensed or certified by DCYF (formerly DEL). DCYF adopts rules to set licensing requirements when directed by state law to set specific requirements to help clarify more general laws, or help organize requirements that may be set by both state and federal laws.