How to Open a Child Care Center or Pre-school in Maryland

How to Open a Child Care Center or Pre-school in Maryland

Easy steps to opening your own child care center.

H&H Child Care Training offers all the needed trainings required by the Office of Child Care Licensing. H&H professional consultants are available for on-site visits and support. 

What you need to do to start a daycare center in Maryland. 

1. Contact Your OCC Regional Licensing Office Call the Regional Licensing Office responsible for your area to let them know that you are interested in applying for a child care facility license or letter of compliance. That Regional Office will be responsible for processing your application, inspecting your facility to make sure it meets regulatory requirements, issuing your license or letter of compliance, providing you with technical assistance, and answering any questions you may have about regulatory issues. The Regional Office will be your main point of contact for all matters related to your license or letter of compliance throughout the time that your facility is located in the area. A list of regional offices can be found at the MSDE website. 

2. Attend an Orientation Session If you intend to apply for a Child Care Center license, you or your representative must attend an orientation session held by the Regional Licensing Office that covers the area where your facility will be located. Applicants for a Letter of Compliance are not required to attend an orientation session, but they are strongly encouraged to do so. The orientation session provides potential applicants with detailed information about the application process and the requirements that will need to be met. It is also intended to familiarize applicants with State and local regulations pertinent to child care. If your native language is something other than English and you think you may need language assistance, let the Office know that you need an interpreter, or bring someone to interpret or take notes for you.

3. Submit a Complete Application At least 60 days before the proposed opening date, you must submit an application packet for a child care facility license or letter of compliance. This packet consists of (but is not necessarily limited to) the following items, all of which are discussed in detail during the orientation session:

1. Notice of intent to operate a child care facility

2. OCC application form for a child care facility license or letter of compliance

3. Site plans

4. Floor plans with architectural details.

5. Written plan of operation

6. Documentation of compliance with local zoning, building, health, and fire codes

7. Documentation of workers compensation insurance coverage

8. Fire evacuation plan

9. Menu plan for the first 4 weeks of operation

10. Written child discipline procedures

In addition, the following items must be submitted to the Regional Licensing Office for review before the application process can be considered complete:

11. List of all facility personnel, along with staff qualification documents (if applicable)

12. Staffing pattern 

13. Results of a criminal background check application for the applicant (if the applicant is an individual who will interact with the children in care), the director, and each paid employee who will have access to children in care

14. Permission to examine records of abuse and neglect of children and adults for information about the director, residents at the facility (if any), and company officers who may interact with children in care (if the applicant is a company, agency, or organization).

Also, facility staff must submit a completed medical evaluation before being allowed to begin work.

14 (a). Make Sure the Facility is Safe and Properly Equipped The facility must be in good repair and meet all applicable building, sanitary facility, lighting, and food storage/preparation/service requirements set forth in COMAR 13A.16 or COMAR 13A.17, as applicable.

In addition, all areas of the facility to be used for child care must be safe and properly equipped. The following are just a few examples of facility safety and equipment requirements:

15. All potentially hazardous items such as cleansers, medicines, tools, and sharp implements are stored so that they are inaccessible to children

16. All child care areas are lead-safe

17. Electrical wall sockets are properly capped as required by the applicable fire code

18. A properly stocked first-aid kit is present

19. There are adequate, appropriate, and safe indoor and outdoor activity materials and equipment for the children's use

20. If children under 2 years old will be in care, there are enough cribs to accommodate the children, and each crib meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.  Pass OCC, Fire Safety, and Other Required Inspections The facility will need to be inspected by the local fire authority to make sure that it meets all applicable fire codes. Inspections by the Health Department and/or other local government agencies may also be required. There are no fees for any inspections conducted by the OCC Regional Licensing Office. However, there may be fees for inspections by fire, health, and/or other local authorities.

A “Use and Occupancy Permit” from the local government agency is required is use the property as a child care center. Once everything is in place for your business, a Regional Office licensing specialist will schedule an application inspection of your facility. This inspection is designed to determine if the facility and the child care program you will offer meet all applicable child care licensing regulations. It is also intended as an opportunity to address any questions you may have about operating a child care program.

After all application requirements have been met and all necessary inspections have been passed, the OCC Regional Licensing Office will issue your child care facility license or letter of compliance. A child care facility is initially authorized to operate for a period of two years. At the end of 6 that period, the license or letter of compliance may be converted to continuing (i.e., nonexpiring) status that continues in effect until the license or letter of compliance is surrendered, suspended, or revoked. However, a non-expiring license may be placed on conditional (i.e., probationary) status if the center operator does not comply with certain State requirements. Continued failure to comply may result in suspension or revocation. All license child care centers receive an unannounced “drop in” visit annually to determine if child health and safety requirements are being met.

Variance Requests The Office of Child Care (OCC) may grant a variance to a regulation:  If the safeguards to a child’s health, safety, or well-being are not diminished;  When the provider/operator presents clear and convincing evidence that a regulation is met by an alternative which complies with the intent of the regulation for which the variance is sought; and  For a limited period of time as specified by the Office, or for as long as the license/LOC remains in effect and the provider/operator continues to comply with the terms of the variance. The Office of Child Care (OCC) will consider a request for a variance after reviewing the following:  Other variances approved for the facility;  All supporting documentation and information submitted to the Office;  The regulatory issue and the portion of the regulation which is not currently being met;  Compensating Factors – A statement of clear and convincing evidence that alternatives are present to meet the intent of the regulation until compliance is accomplished (e.g. – Mary Smith exceeds the age requirement, has 5 years of preschool experience and has completed the 64 hour course); and the  Proposed Solution – A statement of how compliance will be achieved (e.g. – Mary Smith has enrolled in the Bridge Course which will be completed in December).

21. Sign and date the form and send to the OCC Regional Office.

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