Home daycare providers impact children by creating a sense of security that can last a lifetime. On a typical school day, elementary-age children attend daycare before and after school, while infants and preschoolers stay all day. During a typical 12-hour day, endless rounds of the ABC song, mealtimes, nap times, snack times and craft projects bring joy, routine and a sense of safe predictability to the environment. This safety creates a launch pad from which children are free to learn and explore the world. To assure parents that their children will be safely cared for, the state of Tennessee has a strict licensing process that home daycare operators must pass before opening their doors.
The state of Tennessee requires each applicant to attend an orientation before applying to open a home daycare. Contact your district's Child and Adult Care Licensing office to register to attend the next session. During orientation, you will learn details about the application process and requirements your home needs to meet for bathrooms, transportation, staffing, meal areas, nap areas, programs, equipment and outside play spaces. This orientation gives you a chance to meet with staff, become acquainted with state expectations and meet others in your area who are passionate about serving children.
Evaluations and Inspections
With your orientation completed, you are all set to get your federal employer identification number and schedule an appointment with your district's child care program evaluator to check your home for hazards, make sure it is appropriate for operating a daycare, draft the floor plan and take photos. Following this initial inspection, it is time to submit your application and fee, along with proof of education and experience and the contact information for three references. Environmental and fire/safety inspectors will be your next visitors, after which you submit your fingerprints, criminal history disclosure form and background check.
After you pass all of the inspections, the state of Tennessee issues a 90-day provisional license that becomes permanent when you pass the next inspection. As long as your home daycare center is in operation, expect to have random quarterly inspections to make sure everything is still up to state standards.
Find a Mentor
Applying to open a home daycare in Tennessee involves walking through a lot of legal processes, with standards that can seem quite specific and often overwhelming. Take the stress out by making friends with other well-established home daycare providers in your area. Often, there are more children than providers, and so established professionals are more than happy to help you learn the ropes. Experienced home daycare providers can share their stories and wisdom with you, as well as tips on energy and stress management. They can also share information on childcare resources or the best places in the area to find needed equipment to help you get started.