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Child Care Centers
Child Care Centers provide care for six or more children below 13 years of age who attend less than 24 hours a day. Child care centers are required by State law to be licensed. Under the provisions of the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers (N.J.A.C.10:122) every person or organization caring for six or more children below 13 years of age is required to secure a license from the Office of Licensing in the Department of Children and Families, unless the program is exempt by law. Please refer to 10:122-1.2(d) for a list of these exemptions.

Take these steps to start the licensing process:

  • Identify a potential site;
  • Contact the construction official of the town or municipality, where the potential site is located, to determine if the property has been zoned to include a child care center;
  • Secure a variance (permission to operate a child care center in an area that is not approved for business use) from the municipal officials if the building is not in a business zone; and
  • Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from the municipal construction official reflecting the building's compliance with applicable requirements of the State Uniform Construction Code (NJUCC). The CO must be one of the following use groups:

    • I-4 (Institutional) for children younger than 2 ½ years of age;
    • E (Educational) for six or more children 2 ½ years of age or older; or
    • A-3 or A-4 (Assembly) for school aged child care programs (I-4 or E may also be used).

  • The municipal zoning office or construction official can answer questions regarding a variance or a CO.

  • Once you have established that the potential site is zoned for a child care center, you may contact the Office of Licensing toll-free at 1-877-667-9845 for a courtesy inspection. The Office of Licensing also reviews architectural plans for renovations and new construction of child care centers. These services are offered to prospective center operators at no cost.
  • Read the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers very carefully. ( Click here  to obtain a PDF copy of the Manual of Requirements.) It includes requirements for:

• Comprehensive liability insurance
• Vehicle insurance
• Staff qualifications including director, head teacher, group teacher and program supervisor
• Supervision and staff child ratios
• Program activities and equipment
• Health and sanitation conditions and practices
• Food and nutrition
• Provisions for rest and sleep
• Parent and community participation
• Administrative and record-keeping requirements

  • All regularly scheduled staff members will be required to complete both a Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) fingerprint background check (if 18 years or older) and a Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) background check (regardless of age).

If you decide to pursue licensure or
have any questions, call toll-free:
The Department of Children and Families
Office of Licensing
or click here to visit their website

Family Child Care
Family Child Care Homes (also known as family day care homes) provide care for five or fewer children below 13 years of age in the provider's private residence. Family child care providers may choose to become voluntarily registered through Child Care Resource and Referral Centers under contract with the Department of Human Services.

Take these steps to provide child care in your home: 

  • If you are a New Jersey resident, you may choose to become a registered family child care provider and care for up to five children in your home. To become a registered family child care provider: Submit an application to the Child Care Resource and Referral Center for your county, along with:

    • two character references;
    • results of a medical examination and tuberculin Mantoux test;
    • disclosures of any criminal convictions; and
    • consent forms for Child Abuse Record Information (CARI) background checks for everyone living or working in your home who is at least 14 years old.
  • Attend eight hours of pre-service training given free of charge by the sponsoring organization, which covers:

    • child development;
    • discipline;
    • safety, first aid and emergency procedures;
    • health and sanitation;
    • nutrition;
    • program activities;
    • parent-provider communication; and
    • other important topics.
  • Have a home inspection by the sponsoring organization, which includes an examination of the numbers and ages of the children in care, health, safety, program activities, nutrition, supervision, discipline, record-keeping and communication with parents.
  • Pay a $25 fee to the sponsoring organization.

For further information, please contact the
Child Care Resource and Referral Center 
for your county.

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