In California, licensing of child care businesses is handled through the Child Care Licensing Division (CCLD) of the Department of Social Services (DSS). You need a license if you will be caring for children from more than one family that is not related to you. Operating without the required license can result in significant penalties. A key distinction made by California’s child care laws is between care provided in a person’s home (“Family Day Care” or “Family Child Care”) and care provided at an independent facility (“Child Care Center”). The license and renewal fees are higher, and the regulations more extensive, for child care centers. You will need to attend an orientation session before you can apply for a license for either a family child care home or a child care center. After you successfully complete the orientation, you will need to complete the license application.

The links below take you to the Child Care Licensing Division (CCLD) of the Department of Social Services for information regarding becoming a licensed provider, and to Children’s Council of San Francisco and the Child Care Law Center – agencies that provide support and assistance to navigate the family Child Care and center-based licensing processes.

Interested in becoming a licensed provider? Each of the following agencies offer resources and guidance on how to become licensed:

Have legal questions related to being a licensed child care provider? Go to the Child Care Law Center for more information