Become a Licensed Child Care & Early Learning Provider

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) licenses approximately 6,000 early learning programs and school-age sites in the state of Washington. Licensed early learning providers follow foundational quality standards, the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), set by the state to ensure children in licensed care are in safe, healthy, and nurturing environments.

If you are caring for children on a regular basis, you may need a license. Families choose different kinds of early learning programs to meet their needs. Some caregivers do not need a license, including informal parent cooperatives, and family, friends and neighbors who provide occasional care. 

DCYF Licensing Rules 

The regulations known as rules, Washington Administrative Code or WAC, set the standards for child care that is licensed or certified by DCYF. DCYF adopts rules to set licensing requirements when directed by state law to set specific requirements to help clarify more general laws or help organize requirements that may be set by both state and federal laws. 

Who Needs a License

There are different types of licensed early learning programs in Washington State:

  • Family home early learning program is an early learning program licensed by the department where a family home licensee provides child care or education services for 12 or fewer children in the family living quarters where the licensee resides.
  • Child care center early learning program is a facility providing regularly scheduled care for a group of children birth through 12 years old for periods of less than 24 hours a day.
  • School-age program is a facility providing regularly scheduled care for a group of children five through 12 years old for periods less than 24 hours a day when children are not attending school.