Guidance on Operating a Licensed Child Care Program

As a result of recent legislation, effective July 1, 2021, child care licensing fees will be suspended until June 30, 2023.

Child care providers and early childhood educators play a very important role in the lives of children. Research shows high-quality early learning opportunities are key to ensuring children start school ready to succeed and have better cognitive, language, emotional and social skills as they grow older. Children who spend time in high-quality child care have lasting benefits from the experience.

The Department Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) works to ensure all child care, early learning and school-age programs are safe and healthy environments and that they enrich the lives of young children as well. As a result, Washington State requires almost all child care and early learning providers and programs to be licensed when children 0-12 are cared for outside of their home unless these exemptions apply to them under RCW 43.216.010. When exemptions do not apply to a program, prospect providers may apply to undergo the licensing process. When the licensing process is completed, DCYF Licensing staff may issue a license to a program which legally authorizes them to operate an early learning or school-age program.

Types of Licensed Programs

There are three different types of programs DCYF licenses:

  1. Family Home Early Learning Programs – this is the most common licensed program in our state. A family home licensee provides child care or education services for 12 or fewer children, ages birth through 12 years old, in the family living quarters where the licensee resides.
  2. Center Early Learning Programs – these are facilities providing regularly-schedule care for a group of children, birth through 12 years old, for periods of less than 24 hours per day.
  3. Licensed School Age Programs – these programs serve only children ages 5 years old through 12 years old who are attending kindergarten or school in a school age setting.

DCYF licenses more than 3,000 family home early learning programs, more than 1,700 center early learning programs and nearly 600 school-age programs. DCYF also licenses 5 outdoor preschool programs.

Licensing Support

Each early learning and school age program has a DCYF licensor assigned to ensure compliance with the Foundational Quality Standards for Early Learning Programs (Chapter 110-300 WAC) and the Licensed School Age Child Care Standards (Chapter 110-305 WAC).

Licensors partner with providers to maintain high-quality programs that protect and benefit children while also offering technical assistance so providers can achieve their optimal potential. Additionally, DCYF licensors observe interactions within the environment, inspect the early learning or school-age program with consistency and fairness with the ultimate end goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of children in both early learning and school age programs.

E-Learning Modules and WAC Resources

On August 1, 2019, Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 110-300 was implemented for family home and center early learning programs. With these changes, DCYF was committed to ensuring all providers understand the Foundational Quality Standards. For this reason, 34 e-learning modules were created, focusing on specific topics pertaining to WAC 110-300 to increase the understanding and purpose of each WAC. Each course includes resources with additional learning through web links and videos, as well as examples of the various ways to meet the licensing standards.

Absence or Inactive Program Steps

Absence or Inactive Program Steps highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Licensee absence (0015)
  • Inactive status – voluntary and temporary closure (0016)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  Requirements of early learning programs prior to and during voluntary and temporary closure
  •  How and when to communicate a licensee or director absence
  •  This course also covers the department steps to closures as well as reactivation of licenses.

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Allergies and Individual Food Needs

Allergies and Individual Food Needs highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Food allergies and special dietary needs (0186)
  • Parent or guardian provided food and Written Food Plans (0190)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify and learn:

  •  Components of an individual care plan and written food plan
  •  How to respond to a child’s allergic reaction while in care
  •  This course also covers outside food and when it may be shared with children in the early learning program.

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Babies, Waddlers, and Toddlers - What do I need to Know?

Babies, Waddlers, and Toddlers - What do I need to Know? highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Infant and toddler care (0275)
  • Infant and toddler programs and activities (0295)
  • Infant and toddler development (0296)
  • Bottle preparation (0280), Breast milk (0281)
  • Infant and toddler nutrition and feeding (0285)(CCDF)
  • Infant and toddler sleep, rest, and equipment (0290)
  • Infant safe sleep practices (0291)
  • Adopted Permanent Rule(CCDF)

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  Appropriate health practices when caring for infants, waddlers, and toddlers
  •  How to set up and maintain developmentally appropriate programs and activities to support their development
  •  This course also covers the safe feeding for infants and toddlers and sleeping practices for infants.

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Bathrooms, Toileting and Diaper Changing

Bathrooms, Toileting and Diaper Changing highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Bathroom space and toilet training (0220)
  • Diaper changing areas and disposal (0221)

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  Diaper changing practices to prevent cross contamination
  •  Facility and space requirements for bathrooms and diaper changing areas
  •  This course also covers regulations related to bathing and toilet training

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Be Prepared - Handling Emergencies and Fires

Be Prepared - Handling Emergencies and Fires highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300: Emergency preparation and exiting (0166)(CCDF), Fire safety (0170)(CCDF), Emergency preparedness plan (0470)(CCDF).

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  Fire hazards and understand the value of documenting early learning safety practices.
  •  This course also covers the essential components of an emergency preparedness plan and the importance of practicing drills in early learning program space.

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Building and Assessing a Winning Team

Building and Assessing a Winning Team highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Program based staff policies and training (0110)
  • Staff oversight (0111)
  • Staff records (0115)
  • Providing for personal, professional, and health needs of staff (0120)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand the:

  •  Importance of having and enforcing written policies
  •  Requirements of personnel record keeping
  •  This course outlines and provides resources for conducting program and staff observations.

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Capacity, Ratio, and Supervision in your Center Early Learning Program - Key Elements for Success

Capacity, Ratio, and Supervision in your Center Early Learning Program - Key Elements for Success highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Supervising children (0345)
  • Supervising children during water activities (0350)
  • Indoor early learning program space capacity (0354)
  • Center capacity, ratio, and group size (0356)
  • Center mixed age grouping capacity, ratio, and group size (0357)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand:

  •  Roles on unsupervised access to a child in care in a center early learning program,
  •  Recognize how active supervision positively impacts the safety of children in care 
  •  This course also covers the requirements for staff-to-child ratios, and how capacity is determined for indoor space.

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Capacity, Ratio, and Supervision in your Family Home Early Learning Program- Key Elements for Success

Capacity, Ratio, and Supervision in your Family Home Early Learning Program - Key Elements for Success highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Supervising children (0345)
  • Supervising children during water activities (0350)
  • Indoor early learning program space capacity (0354)
  • Family home capacity, ratio, and group size (0355)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand:

  •  Roles on unsupervised access to a child in care in a family home early learning program, and
  •  Recognize how active supervision positively impacts the safety of children in care.
  •  This course also covers the requirements for staff-to-child ratios, and how capacity is determined for indoor space.

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Creating a Positive Environment for Learning

Creating a Positive Environment for Learning highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Curriculum philosophy and planning (0305)
  • Supervising Children (0345) (3)(4)(5)
  • Concept development and feedback quality (0310)
  • Language modeling and reasoning (0315)
  • Facilitating child interests, learning, perspective, and productivity (0320)
  • Creating a climate for healthy child development (0325)
  • Positive relationships and child guidance (0330)
  • Consistent care policy (0495)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  Elements necessary for creating a climate that promotes healthy child development
  •  This course teaches strategies for promoting and being responsive to children’s concept and language development, and demonstrates ways for meeting children’s cultural needs.

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Eating and Brushing - What's Healthy for Kids?

Eating and Brushing - What's Healthy for Kids highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Meal and snack schedule (0180)
  • Menus, milk, and food (0185)(CCDF)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand the requirement of:

  •  The USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program
  •  Or the USDA National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program meal pattern and standards
  •  This course also covers tooth brushing practices, and the frequency of snacks and meals in an early learning program.

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Family Partnerships for Children’s Success

Family Partnerships for Children’s Success highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Developmental screening and communication to parents or guardians (0055)
  • School readiness and family engagement activities (0065)
  • Family support self-assessment (0080)
  • Family partnerships and communication (0085)
  • Parent or guardian handbook and related policies (0450)
  • Termination of services policy (0485)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  The five protective factors of Strengthening Families and learn why they are important.
  •  This course supports why it’s important to have and enforce written policies and procedures, along with connecting family engagement to child outcomes.

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Food Service from A to Z

Food Service from A to Z highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Food service, equipment, and practices (0195)
  • Food sources (0196)
  • Safe food practices (0197)
  • Food preparation areas (0198)

After taking this course, you will identify:

  •  Proper hand washing practices 
  •  This course also covers food safety practices for storing, preparing, and serving food, along with reducing the risk and spread of food-borne illnesses in an early learning program.

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Hazard Free and Safe Environments

Hazard Free and Safe Environments highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Safety requirements (0165)(CCDF)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  Characteristics of a safe early learning program environment
  •  This course also covers how to identify hazards to children, and ways to minimize risk of harm to children with a hazard free environment.

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Immunizations

Immunizations highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Immunizations and exempt children (0210)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand:

  •  Policy and record keeping requirements of immunization records for enrolled children
  •  The course also covers when children may still be accepted into the early learning program, without having current immunization records.

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Inclusion and Equity of Care

Inclusion and Equity of Care highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Non-discrimination (0030)
  • Promoting acceptance of diversity (0160)
  • Individual care plan (Special needs accommodations) (0300)

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  The importance of children’s special needs accommodations and individual care plans 
  •  This course teaches strategies for promoting non-discrimination, and identifies practical tools to include diversity in early learning environments.

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Indoor Space and Furnishings

Indoor Space and Furnishings highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Indoor early learning program space (0130)
  • Routine care, play, learning, relaxation, and comfort (0135)
  • Room arrangement, child-related displays, private space, and belongings (0140)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand:

  •  The importance of having child-size furniture, equipment and soft materials
  •  This course outlines why age appropriate space and developmentally appropriate early learning materials are important in the early learning environment.

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It's ALL About Record Keeping and Retention

It's ALL About Record Keeping and Retention highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Attendance records (0455),
  • Child records (0460),
  • Retaining facility and program records (0465).

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  Requirements of the early learning program attendance records, child records and the rules for facility and program record retention

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Keeping it clean, sanitary and safe for kids!

Keeping it clean, sanitary and safe for kids highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Clean and healthy environment (0240)(CCDF)
  • Cleaning schedules (0241)
  • Laundry and equipment (0245)
  • Private septic systems (0250)
  • Pest control (0255)
  • Storage of maintenance and janitorial supplies (0260)

After taking this course, you will be able to determine:

  •  Methods and materials to be used in cleaning and sanitation
  •  Recognize program materials, equipment, and space that must be included in the cleaning and sanitation routine.
  •  This course also covers how to maintain a private septic system, and how to identify steps for controlling pests or preventing infestations, along with how to store hazardous materials, on the early learning premises.

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Licensing Journey
  • Licensing Journey highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:
  • Application materials (0400)
  • License fees (0401)
  • Changing early learning program space or location (0402)
  • License and program location (0410)
  • Zoning, codes, and ordinances (0415)
  • Initial, non-expiring, and dual licenses and license modification (0425)

After taking this course, you will know the:

  •  Application process and requirements to operate a licensed early learning program.
  •  This course covers when and to whom to report situations that may impact the health, safety, or welfare of enrolled children.

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Outdoor Play - Fun and Safe!

Outdoor Play - Fun and Safe highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Outdoor early learning program space (0145)
  • Equipment and surfaces in outdoor early learning space (0146)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand the:

  •  Requirements for providing shaded areas for outdoor play.
  •  Value of using developmentally appropriate activities
  •  Difference between family home and center guidelines for outdoor early learning program space 
  •  This course also covers the safety requirements for gates, barriers, and outdoor play space materials.

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Pets and Animals in Early Learning Programs

Pets and Animals in Early Learning Programs highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Pets and animals (0225).

After taking this course, you can identify:

  •  Which animals or pets are allowable
  •  Describe practices in caring for them in an early learning program 
  •  This course also covers the importance of cleaning up after animals to prevent the spread of illness.

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Professional Development and Staff Qualifications

Professional Development and Staff Qualifications highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • General staff qualifications (0100)
  • Pre-service requirements (0105)
  • Training requirements (0106) (CCDF)
  • In-service training (0107)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  Staff qualification requirements and how they can be met, for all early learning provider roles.
  •  This course also provides resources to assist early learning professionals.

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Program, Activities, and Schedule

Program, Activities, and Schedules highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Program and activities (0150)
  • Program and daily schedule (0360)
  • Transportation and off-site activity policy (0480)

After taking this course, you will have knowledge of:

  •  Safety updates
  •  Requirements of learning and play materials for early learning programs 
  •  This course also covers the importance of supporting children of all abilities and needs, and having developmentally appropriate materials for all children.

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Prohibited Substances in Early learning Programs

Prohibited Substances in Early learning Programs highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Prohibited substances (0420)

After taking this course, you will be able to identify:

  •  Substances prohibited from use or storage on early learning program premises 
  •  This course also covers ways to limit children’s exposure to prohibited substances while in care, and understand how exposure to substances or persons under the influence of the substance impacts a child’s health, safety, and development.

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Protecting and Reporting

Protecting and Reporting highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Duty to protect children and report incidents (0475)

After taking this course, you will be able to learn:

  •  Warning signs
  •  Risk factors for child abuse and neglect
  •  This course explains the importance of identifying and reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

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Purposeful Screen Time

Purposeful Screen Time highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Use of television, video, and computers (0155)

After taking this course, you will be able to recognize:

  •  When to use and have examples of purposeful screen time
  •  This course covers strategies of screen time as a tool for learning with children in care.

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Safe Responses for Challenging Behaviors

Safe Responses for Challenging Behaviors highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Prohibited behavior, discipline, and physical removal of children (0331)
  • Physical restraint (0335), Child restraint policy (0490)
  • Expulsion (0340)
  • Expulsion Policy (0486)

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  Criteria for the restraint of a child and the formation of a clear restraint policy
  •  Children communicate through verbal and non-verbal cues
  •  Impact of expulsion on children
  •  Behaviors or actions that are prohibited in early learning programs 
  •  This course also covers the expulsion policy, and learn about early learning program environments and revise practices to lessen challenging behaviors.

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Serving Safe Water

Serving Safe Water highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Safe water sources (0235)
  • Adopted Permanent Rule, Safe drinking water (0236)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand more about:

  •  Exposure to contaminants in water
  •  Requirements for uses of water fixtures 
  •  This course also covers procedures if the water supply is not available or becomes contaminated, in the early learning program.

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Sleep, Rest and Overnight Care

Sleep, Rest and Overnight Care highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Sleep, rest, and equipment (0265)
  • Evening and overnight care (0270)

After taking this course, you will be able to describe:

  •  Appropriate sleep and rest equipment
  •  Cleaning schedules for sleep and rest equipment used in an early learning program
  •  This course also covers supervision practices related to health and safety of children during rest or sleep periods.

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The Golden Rules for Healthy Programs - Understanding Medication, Illness, and Handwashing

The Golden Rules for Healthy Programs - Understanding Medication, Illness, and Handwashing highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Handwashing and hand sanitizer (0200)
  • Child, staff, and household member illness (0205)
  • Managing and storing medication (0215)(CCDF)

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  Handwashing and how to eliminate the spread of germs 
  •  This course also covers required practices for administering medications, and identify when a child or early learning professional should be isolated from the program.

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Understanding Enforcement Actions and Provider Rights

Understanding Enforcement Actions and Provider Rights highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Intent and authority (0001)
  • Facility Licensing Compliance Agreements, no referral status, probationary license, and provider rights (0440)
  • Enforcement actions, notice and appeal (0443)

After taking this course, you will understand:

  •  DCYF’s responsibility and authority to set and enforce licensing requirements
  •  Recognize the options for enforcement action and provider’s rights
  •  This course also covers the appropriate implementation of Facility Licensing Compliance Agreements (FLCA), Inspection Reports and Probationary licenses.

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Understanding Waivers and Variances - What are the differences?

Understanding Waivers and Variances - What are the differences? highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Waiver from department rules (0435)
  • Variance from department rules (0436)

After taking this course, you will recognize:

  •  Similarities and differences between waivers and variances
  •  Steps to request a waiver or a variance 
  •  This course also covers the importance of complying with the Foundational Quality Standards.

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Weather, Gardens, and Water Safety

Weather, Gardens, and Water Safety highlights the following WAC's from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • Weather conditions and outdoor hazards (0147)
  • Gardens in outdoor early learning program space (0148)
  • Adopted Permanent Rule, Water hazards and swimming pools (0175)(CCDF)

After taking this course, you will learn how to identify and be familiar with:

  •  Hazards related to bodies of water
  •  Requirements for gardens in early learning program spaces 
  •  This course also covers how to assess weather conditions for children’s health and safety.

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When is a License Required?

When is a License Required highlights the following WACs from the Foundational Quality Standards 110-300:

  • License required (0010)
  • Unlicensed programs (0020)
  • Certified and exempt programs (0025)

After taking this course, you will be able to understand:

  •  Licensing requirements for both licensed and unlicensed programs 
  •  This course describes the difference between certified and exempt early learning programs.

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