WAC 110-302 Foundational Quality Standards for Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care is in effect as of June 1, 2023.

WAC 110-302 replaces the Touchstone Standards, WAC 110-300E. View the Chapter.

Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Programs

Child care licensing fees are suspended until June 30, 2023; however, due to recently passed legislation, effective July 1, 2023, child care fees will be required.

Outdoor Nature-Based (ONB) child care licensing is an available licensing option for child care providers as of July 25, 2021. Outdoor Nature-Based programs offer regularly scheduled care for preschool-age children, school-age children, or mixed-age children (preschool and school-age combined), for periods of less than 24 hours a day when children are not attending school.  DCYF currently licenses 18 Outdoor Nature-Based programs, with continued growth and interest in this licensing option.

If you are interested in applying for an Outdoor Nature-Based child care license, send an email to dcyf.outdoornaturebasedchildcare@dcyf.wa.gov.

Outdoor Nature-Based Programs: 

  • Can participate in Early Achievers, ECEAP, and child care subsidy programs (such as Working Connections Child Care)
  • Tribal programs can participate in Outdoor Nature-Based programming through an interlocal agreement through DCYF
  • Are eligible to apply for grants available to all licensed child care providers

What does an Outdoor Nature-Based Program Look Like?

View this video that highlights ONB programs across Washington State:

ONB Child Care Orientation

If you are interested in becoming licensed to operate an ONB program, you must attend an orientation. Please note, DCYF is in the final stages of developing an online orientation for interested ONB providers.  The expected launch date for this orientation is mid-July/August.  Once the online version goes live, the links below will be activated and notice will be posted to this page.  In the meantime, email the ONB email inbox at dcyf.outdoornaturebasedchildcare@dcyf.wa.gov.  Your name will be added to a list and you will be contacted to attend a virtual ONB orientation.

Step One

If you do not have a Stars ID number, you must register for one in MERIT.

Step Two

Visit the DCYF Online Training Site.  You will need to register as a new user if this is your first time accessing the training site.

Step Three

Complete the Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care Program Orientation on the DCYF Online Training site.

The training site will automatically record your completed training in your MERIT Workforce Registry record, as long as the personal identification information in both systems match.  If your completed training is not recorded in your MERIT Professional Record, contact merit@dcyf.wa.gov.

Step Four (If Applicable)

If you are interested in applying for an Outdoor Nature-Based Child Care License, email the ONB team at dcyf.outdoornaturebasedchildcare@dcyf.wa.gov.

For information on staff qualifications and professional development training, visit the Qualifications & Roles Requirements for ONB providers.