The Business of Child Care

Early learning and child care providers are educators who also run small businesses. The following resources will help you understand the business administration practices of early learning facilities and general information on starting and running your business.

Business Edge, Child Care Aware of Washington

Child Care Aware (CCA) is a nonprofit child care resource and referral organization dedicated to providing information and support to families, early learning providers, and policymakers.

CCA’s online portal, Business Edge, gives early learning providers access to a comprehensive source for toolkits, forms, policies, checklists, reference sheets, templates, and training in early learning business and administrative services and tasks. To access this resource, you will need to register as a Business Edge member. After registering, you will receive an email confirming your access to the platform’s information and resources.

Child Care State Capacity Building Center

The Child Care State Capacity Building Center (SCBC) works with state and territory leaders to enhance the effectiveness of early childhood education programs implemented under the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). In October 2018, SCBC created a Resource Guide called Starting and Operating a Child Care Business.

Although this resource does not reflect child care licensing differences between individual states, it does offer resources and a comprehensive overview of starting and operating a child care business.

SCORE, Small Business Association (SBA)

SCORE is a nonprofit resource partner of SBA. SCORE offers small business owners the opportunity to receive free and confidential business advice from SBA’s network of 10,000 volunteer business experts through Request a Mentor.

SCORE’s Startup Roadmap details steps and resources for starting a business. The SCORE Startup Roadmap includes 12 chapters. Each chapter is an online webinar that is accessed through an Event Registration Form. SCORE’s Browse Library also offers free business templates, guides, blog, videos, and other helpful resources.

SCORE also offers a Business Plan Template, an essential document in the financing process and Where’s the Money? 10 Types of Small Business Financing and How to Qualify.

Small Business Guide, Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA)

ORIA’s Small Business Guide is a free service that helps citizens and small businesses in Washington understand and navigate federal, state, and local permit, tax, and regulatory requirements. The Small Business Guide offers a helpful list of Business Publications, including a checklist of licenses required for new businesses.

Road Map for Opening a Business is ORIA’s guide to register and license your business in Washington.

Starting and Operating a Business in Washington State

You are required to license and register your business with multiple local, state, and federal agencies. This includes, but is not limited to, the following agencies.

Business License Services – Washington Department of Revenue

Business License Services:

  • The Business License Application is used to apply for many state endorsements, registrations, and city business licenses.
  • You will need to file a Business License Application if you are opening a new business or making changes to an existing business.
  • If you are not given a UBI from the Secretary of State, you will be assigned one after filing your Business License Application.

Department of Employment Security – Washington State

  • If you employ one or more persons, you are required to have Unemployment Insurance.
  • When you submit a Business License Application indicating you intend to hire employees, the Department of Employment Security is notified and registers your business.
  • Employment Security will send you a letter notifying you that you are registered and will provide instructions for filing wage reports and paying taxes.

Department of Labor & Industries – Washington State

Department of Labor and Industries:

  • Industrial Insurance (Workers Compensation) is for work related injuries. Workers Compensation pays for partial wage replacement and approved medical, hospital, and other related services for treatment and recovery if a worker is injured on the job.
  • If you are hiring workers, you must get a Workers Compensation account. This can be done through your application with the Business Licensing Services website.

Department of Revenue – Washington State

Department of Revenue:

  • Tax account registration, excise taxes, and tax incentives/credits.
  • How you are taxed depends on your business or organization structure.
  • The chart Washington Business and Organization Structure Considerations may help you determine what business structure best fits your situation. Please consult with your business or legal advisor.

Economic Services Administration – Washington State

Internal Revenue Service – Federal

  • An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also called Federal Tax Identification Number.
  • EIN is used by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify the tax accounts of businesses.

Secretary of State – Washington State

If your business structure will be one of the following, you must file with the Secretary of State before filing a Business License Application. The Secretary of State will assign the Unified Business Identifier (UBI) for Corporations and LLCs.

  • Washington Domestic Corporation
  • Washington Domestic Partnership
  • Washington Domestic Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Washington Domestic Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

You must retain a completed Federal I-9 form for every employee.

Licensing Process

Early learning and child care programs in Washington State are licensed by DCYF. The rules child care providers must follow are found in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). The state laws governing DCYF are found in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

If you plan to provide regularly scheduled child care and early learning services to a group of children, ages birth through 12 years in your home or in a facility, you will likely need a child care license from DCYF. There are some exemptions to the requirement to be licensed RCW 43.216.010(1)(2).

The rules regulating early learning programs in family home and center based settings are called Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning Programs, WAC 110-300.

The rules regulating school age programs, for children ages 5 through 12 years when they are not attending school, are called Licensed School Age Child Care Standards, WAC 110-305.

In order to license your facility, you first need to go through the licensing process to become a licensed provider and submit an application package. For more information, visit Become a Licensed Child Care & Early Learning Provider.

DCYF Licensing Orientation

DCYF’s website provides guidance to Become a Licensed Child Care & Early Learning Provider. The subsection, Licensing Process provides a link to the online training portal to access DCYF’s Licensing Orientation. All licensees are required to complete Washington Early Learning Child Care Orientation Module 1 and Module 2.

To access these Child Care Orientation modules, you will need to have a STARS ID number which is assigned when you register with MERIT, Washington’s professional development and workforce registry. If you do not have a STARS ID number, Register with MERIT. You will be assigned a STARS ID number, which is needed to register with the Online Training Portal. Keep a record of your user name and password for both.

Register with Online Training Portal to locate Washington Early Learning Child Care Orientation Module 1 and Module 2. The Licensing Orientation Modules provide access to a helpful Resource Guide.