How to legally establish a family day care in New Jersey

Understanding Family Day Care in New Jersey

In the state of New Jersey, family day care refers to a child care service provided in the caregiver's home. It's an attractive option for parents who prefer a more personal and home-like environment for their children's care. Establishing a family day care involves compliance with specific regulations to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the children.

Legal Steps to Establish a Family Day Care

Step 1: Fulfilling Provider Requirements
Prospective family day care providers in New Jersey must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also successfully pass a background check, including fingerprinting, to ensure the safety of the children.

Step 2: Obtaining Required Training
Providers are required to complete pre-service training that covers topics such as child growth and development, nutrition, child abuse identification and prevention, and first aid and CPR certification.

Step 3: Home Inspection and Safety Compliance
The provider's home must pass a health and safety inspection conducted by the Office of Licensing in the Department of Children and Families (DCF). This includes meeting requirements for sanitation, space, equipment, and emergency preparedness.

Step 4: Application Submission
Providers must submit an application to the DCF along with the necessary documentation demonstrating that they meet all requirements. This may include proof of training completion, background check clearances, and home inspection reports.

Step 5: Enrollment in the Child Care Assistance Program
To serve families who receive government subsidies for child care, providers need to enroll in the Child Care Assistance Program. This requires additional paperwork and adherence to specific reimbursement rates and policies.

Regulatory Compliance and Continuing Education

Once established, family day care providers must comply with ongoing regulations such as maintaining proper staff-to-child ratios and completing annual training hours. Providers are also subject to unannounced visits from licensing inspectors to ensure ongoing compliance with state regulations.

Historical Reference

The concept of family day care has evolved considerably since its inception. In New Jersey, legislative actions such as the Child Care Center Licensing Act of 1983 have been instrumental in setting forth comprehensive standards for all forms of child care, including family day cares. These regulations have been vital in fostering safe environments where children can thrive under professional supervision.


Establishing a family day care in New Jersey requires careful planning and adherence to state regulations. By following these legal steps diligently, providers can create nurturing spaces for children while providing peace of mind to parents seeking quality child care solutions.