How to Start Your In Home Daycare IN NEW JERSEY

This page is INFORMATIONAL ONLY and we strongly recommend that you contact the Child Care Resource and Referal for New Jersey directly. Please visit the NJ State Website today!

Where should you start?

The hardest part of starting a daycare is figuring out how to begin the process. Right?

Maybe you have searched around already and are puzzled by the state requirements. Don’t worry. We have been there and can simplify this process for you.

Below you will find 5 easy steps get your in-home New Jersey daycare going.

Step 1: Contact the Child Care Resource and Referral Center for your county
Use the form provided in our “How to Start Your Daycare” program to get all the important questions answered

Step 2: Decide if you can start small and be an exempt provider (under 5 students in New Jersey)
You can always apply to be a licensed provider when you have enough students to necessitate it. Remember, the process for getting students won’t happen overnight. Why increase your costs right away?

Step 3: Begin the setup process for your daycare
See our setup suggestions.

Step 4: Open your small daycare
Everyday management is explained and outlined for you in our program – accounting suggestions and fully customizable forms, contracts, and templates are included with our program.

Step 5: When you are ready, move to the licensed status
Let us know that you want to get registered or licensed and we can help you to do it quickly and affordably.

NJ Family Childcare (Non-Registered)

This is the easiest level to go with.

If you have 5 or less children in care, you do not have to register with the state, have home inspections, take the orientation classes, etc. You can have an extra 3 students (bringing the total to 8) if they reside in the household with you OR are your assistant / substitute teacher’s children and you do not get compensated for their care.

There are benefits to registering with the state though… we will go into those in the next section. However, its great to stay small and grow as you go so there isn’t so much of a financial burden.

Max students: 5 (3 additional possible)

NJ Family Childcare

This level is the same as the exempt one above. The reason I point this out, is that with the same number of children, you may choose to become voluntarily registered through Child Care Resource and Referral Centers. There are some benefits to being registered. Families do feel that there is more reliability there. The homes are inspected regularly and rules and regulations must be adhered to.
To review the Facily Chilcare rules and reglations, visit the New Jersey site

Maximum number of children:

The provider shall care for no more than five children at any one time. You can have 3 additional children in the facility if they live with you. If you have any children that reside in your home and are 6years or older, they are not counted in the eight slots. You can alternatively have 3 additional children (bringing you to the 8) if they are your alternate provider or substitutes children and that provider is present. This situation is only true if you do not charge them for the care.

The provider shall care for no more than the following numbers of infants and toddlers unless a second caregiver is present:
1. Three children below one year of age; or
2. Four children below two years of age, of whom no more than two shall be below one year of Age

General Requirements

Max # of Children: 5 or fewer children (3 additional children if they live with the provider)
Background Check: Required (on all people over 14 years old living in the home or regularly in the facility)
Additional Items:

  • two character references;
  • results of a medical examination and tuberculin Mantoux test

Training Required

Orientation Class: Yes (8 hours of free training)
Abuse and Neglect Class: Yes
Adult / Infant First Aid and CPR: Yes

Inspections Required

State Inspections: Every 3 years (or if a complaint is filed)
Sanitation Inspection Required for License: Yes


Application Fees: $25 application fee + background check
Sanitation Inspection: Varies

NJ Childcare Center

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 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