This post is a part of our series on Washington DC family child care licensing. For more on licensing in Washington DC, see the following posts:

Washington DC Family Child Care Licensing: An Overview
Types of Licenses
Eligibility
Training Requirements
Home Requirements

One of the first steps in becoming an in-home child care provider is applying for a license to operate your family child care within your state. Once you have looked at the types of family home child care licenses in Washington DC, you are ready to get started on the licensing process. Here we break down what that process looks like so you can get started becoming an in-home preschool or childcare provider.

OSSE issues the following types of licenses:

  • Initial License: An initial license may be issued by OSSE to an applicant who is not currently licensed;
  • Renewal License: A renewal license may be issued by OSSE to a current Licensee demonstrating substantial compliance with this chapter that applies for renewal before the expiration of the current license; or
  • Restricted License: A restricted license may be issued by OSSE as an alternative to suspending or revoking an existing license when a Facility has one or more deficiencies.

The initial license and each renewal license may be valid for a 3 year period beginning on the date of issuance.

Initial Licensing Process

The licensing process and timeline can be found at Early Learning Licensing Process Flow. You can access the Child Development Home Licensing Requirements Checklist here and the Child Development Home Forms for Providers here. The Initial Licensing process consists of the following steps:

Step 1: Orientation
Complete the online Home Development Center Licensing Orientation Webinar and Quiz. Print the orientation completion certificate to submit with the initial license application. In-person licensing orientations are available upon request.

Step 2: Obtain Permits and Certificates

  • Home Occupancy Permit (HOP): Homes and expanded homes must obtain a Home Occupancy Permit (HOP). A HOP or other succeeding form of equivalent proof is required that verifies the premise complies with all applicable federal and District of Columbia building, fire-safety, construction, and zoning laws, regulations and codes and that the premise(s) are fit and suitable for the operation of a Child Development Facility, issued by the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCA). You can read more about how to Get a Home Occupation Permit Attach a copy of your HOP to your child development facility licensing application.

An HOP can be obtained from:
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)
Building and Land Regulation Administration
Zoning Division
1100 Fourth St. SW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20024

  • Fire Safety Inspection Certificate: The fire safety inspection certificate must be obtained from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Fire Protection Branch, and Building and Land Regulation Administration.

1100 Fourth St. SW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20024.

A DCRA representative will contact you to schedule a full on-site fire prevention inspection and fire evacuation plan review. Attach a copy of your final inspection approval and fire evacuation plan to your child development facility licensing application.

  • Lead Certificate: A certification or clearance report issued by a DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) certified lead-based paint inspector, risk assessor, or dust sampling technician confirming that the facility does not contain any lead-based paint hazards, issued no more than 30 days prior to the date of application. Attach a copy of your Lead Certification to your child development facility licensing application. A list of Certified Lead Risk Assessors can be found at:

District Department of the Energy and Environment
1200 First Street NE, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002

  • Clean Hands Certificate: A clean hands certification that the applicant satisfies the requirements that must be met in order to obtain a license or permit from the District government, set out in DC Official Code § 47-2862, issued by the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue within 30 days of the date the application is submitted. Attach a copy of your clean hands’ certification to your child development facility licensing application.
  • Proof of Insurance: Proof of insurance, which includes a reasonable coverage amount, as determined by the District of Columbia Office of Risk Management, for the following types of coverage:
    • Commercial General Liability;
    • Umbrella “Follow Form” Liability;
    • Sexual Abuse & Molestation Liability; and
    • Vehicle liability covering every vehicle that will be used to provide transportation services to children at the facility.

Attach a copy of your Insurance certification to your child development facility licensing application.

  • Building Use Agreement: A current, valid, and notarized building use agreement that identifies a contingency location that may be used if the primary location of operation ceases to be available and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • Contact information for the owner of the building;
    • The purpose of the use;
    • General guideline and requirements;
    • Proof of appropriate insurance coverage;
    • Proof of valid certificate of occupancy;
    • Proof of updated safety inspections that are required specifically for a child development facility;
    • User responsibilities;
    • User restrictions; and
    • Facility usage fee, if any.

In lieu of the building use agreement, an applicant may opt to close their facility in the event of an emergency lasting more than 24 hours by attaching a facility closure statement to the “Safe Evacuation Site” form with their application. Attach a copy of your building use agreement to your child development facility licensing application.

Step 3: Submit Application and Fees: Initial Application submission should include the following:

  • Completed Child Development Home License Application Form
  • Copy of orientation completion certificate
  • Original home occupancy permit
  • Original fire inspection certificate
  • Original lead inspection certificate or report
  • Clean hands act certification
  • Certification of Immunization Compliance
  • Proof of current liability insurance coverage
    • Commercial general liability
    • Umbrella “Follow Form“ liability
    • Sexual abuse and molestation liability
    • Vehicle liability
  • Original certificate of good standing (if incorporated)
  • Criminal Background Checks and Histories for Applicant, including:
    • Federal Bureau of Investigations Check Results for Applicant;
    • Criminal History (MPD) Check Results for Applicant; and
    • Child Protection Registry Checks Results (or Notarized Affidavits for Applicant pending receipt of the CPR results).
  • Staff credentials (if hired at this point)
  • Fees: Initial application and pre-licensure inspection fee of $75 made payable to DC Treasurer). Each applicant for an initial license to operate a Child Development Home or Expanded Home for 3-year duration shall pay an initial license fee of $225.

Licensing application packets should be submitted along with payment to:
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Division of Early Learning
Child Development Licensing Unit
810 First Street NE, Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20002

Step 4: Prepare for Initial Inspection: A licensing specialist will contact you within 10 business days of receipt of your application. Prepare the following documents for review:

  • Program Policy Statement
  • Alcohol and drug policies and testing procedures
  • Building use agreement or safe evacuation site form
  • Sample five-day menu following USDA child and adult food care program meal pattern (if serving food)
  • Procure (purchase) developmentally appropriate materials, equipment, cots/cribs that are sufficient for the number of children enrolled.
  • Designate program space(s) and set up program learning/activity areas for children.
  • Complete caregiver files which include:
    • A current health certificate;
    • Employee health information form;
    • Employee appointment form;
    • Educational credentials, resume;
    • Criminal and background history checks – OSSE-issued suitability notice;
    • Drug and alcohol policies and pre-employment test results;
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) training;
    • First aid and CPR certification; and
    • Traffic record check (only required if an employee will transport children).

Step 5: Initial Inspection: During the initial inspection, the licensing specialist will:

  • Inspect your home to ensure all health, and safety and licensing requirements are met;
  • Review all documents submitted by applicant for initial inspection; and
  • Issue a Statement of Deficiencies report with a recommended plan of correction (if applicable).

Applicant must correct deficiencies, if applicable, within required timeframe as specified by OSSE, not to exceed 90 days.

Step 6: Prepare for Follow-up Inspection (if needed): Contact your licensing specialist to schedule a follow-up inspection if needed. During the follow-up inspection, your licensing specialist will review any deficiencies noted during your initial inspection.

Step 7: Validation Visit: Your licensing specialist and program manager will visit the home for one last on-site inspection before the initial license is issued.

Step 8: Issuance of Child Development Home or Expanded Home License: The licensing process takes approximately 1-3 months. The timeframe in which an applicant receives a license varies based on the applicant’s availability and the timeframe it takes for the applicant to correct any identified deficiencies.

Application for Renewal License

The application for a renewal license shall be submitted no later than 90 days before the expiration date of the existing license. The existing license shall remain in effect until OSSE makes a final determination with regard to the application for a renewal license if a Licensee submits a timely and complete renewal license application, fees, and all required documents to OSSE. In addition to the required documentation listed on the application form issued by OSSE, each applicant shall obtain:

  • Fire safety inspection certification: A fire safety inspection certification or other equivalent proof from FEMS that the premise comply with all applicable Federal and District of Columbia fire safety laws, regulations, and codes, issued by FEMS;
  • Clean Hands certification: A Clean Hands certification that the applicant satisfies the requirements that must be met in order to obtain a license or permit from the District government, set out in D.C. Official Code § 47-2862, issued by the District of Columbia Department of Tax and Revenue within 30 days of the date the application is submitted;
  • Certificate of Immunization Compliance: A Certificate of Immunization Compliance that the applicant reached the immunization compliance target issued by the District of Columbia Department of Health;
  • Proof of insurance, that includes a reasonable coverage amount, as determined by the District of Columbia Office of Risk Management, for the following types of coverage:
    • Commercial General Liability;
    • Umbrella “Follow Form” Liability;
    • Sexual Abuse & Molestation Liability; and
    • Vehicle liability covering every vehicle that will be used to provide transportation services to children at the Facility;
  • Building use agreement: A current, valid, and notarized building use agreement that identifies a contingency location that may be used if the primary location of operation ceases to be available and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • Contact information for the owner of the building;
    • The purpose of the use;
    • General guideline and requirements;
    • Proof of appropriate insurance coverage;
    • Proof of valid certificate of occupancy;
    • Proof of updated health and safety inspections specific to a Facility;
    • User responsibilities;
    • User restrictions; and
    • Facility usage fee, if any.
  • Signed declaration: An application for a renewal license shall include a signed declaration by the applicant, or by a person authorized to submit the application on the applicant’s behalf if the applicant is not an individual, that the contents of the application and the information provided with it are true, accurate, and complete.

Onsite Inspection: Upon receipt of a complete application for a renewal license, and prior to the issuance of the renewal license, OSSE may conduct an on-site inspection to determine whether the Facility is in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Statement of Deficiencies: If in the course of the on-site inspection for a renewal license, or review of an application for license renewal, OSSE determines that an existing Licensee is out of compliance with any requirement, OSSE may issue a Statement of Deficiencies.

Follow-up Inspection: After receipt of notification from the existing Licensee that every stated deficiency has been corrected, OSSE shall conduct a follow-up inspection or inspections and, where appropriate, review of the application or other materials, to determine whether the Facility is in compliance with applicable laws and the regulations. Nothing in this procedure shall extend the deadline by which a license be renewed in order to avoid being deemed denied.

Annual Inspections: Each Licensee shall receive, at the minimum, one annual announced and one annual unannounced inspection to:

  • Facilitate verification of information submitted by the Licensee;
  • Determine compliance with the Facilities Act, or other applicable Federal and District of Columbia laws and regulations; and
  • Verify compliance with waiver terms, if applicable.

Annual required documents shall be updated and available for review during annual inspections.

The licensing process takes approximately 1-3 months. The timeframe in which an applicant receives a license varies based on the applicant’s availability and the timeframe it takes for the applicant to correct any identified deficiencies. The licensing process and timeline can be found at Early Learning Licensing Process Flow.

Sources: Early Learning Licensing Process Flow, Home Development Center Licensing Orientation Webinar, Final Rulemaking for the Licensing of Child Development Facilities

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