Ohio child care laws regulate home care facilities based on a number of different criteria, but the most important are the number of children under care and their ages, and whether you accept public funding to provide that care. How those criteria apply to your home determines which regulations will apply.
Home Based Child Care
Anyone can operate a home day care center in Ohio without a license as long as they limit the number of children in the home and do not accept children whose care is paid for with public money. Providers who care for seven or more children at a time in their homes, or four or more if four of the children are under 2 years old, are required to apply for a state license and meet strict criteria that are outlined in the state's child care laws. These homes are called Type A homes. Home child care centers with fewer than six children, called Type B homes, must be certified by the county department of job and family services if they accept public money for child care. Home child care centers of either type are prohibited from caring for more than 12 children at once. If a provider has any children under 6 years old, those children must be included in the total number of children served in the home day care center.
Type A Homes
Ohio child care licensing rules for Type A care providers are similar to the requirements for day care centers outside the home. These copious requirements cover everything from criminal background checks--required for all residents 18 years old and older--to fire code inspections to meal times for attending children. The most basic requirements stipulate that centers must have at least 35 square feet of wall-to-wall space for every enrolled child, outdoor play space and a daily program that balances quiet time, indoor and outdoor play time and developmental activities appropriate for the ages of all attending children. Providers must also hire extra staff if they care for more than six children at once, or more than five children if any of the children are under 12 months old, so that no adult is responsible for more than six children at once. Also, at least one adult must be trained in first aid, CPR and child abuse recognition and prevention. State inspectors will survey the home and review all child-care documentation at least twice a year to ensure the provider is meeting all state requirements.
Type B Homes
Child care providers who care for fewer than six children at once--or fewer than four children if any of those children are under 2 years old--do not have to follow any state regulations unless they accept public money for child care. Those who do accept public money, however, must qualify for county certification and meet requirements similar to those for Type A homes. In addition to criminal background checks, providers in these homes must prove they have completed the state Health and Safety in Family Child Care training program, that they have CPR training and have a medical statement signed by a physician or a nurse practitioner certifying their sound health and up-to-date immunizations.
Optional Certification and Training
The state recommends two voluntary accreditation services for home day care providers who wish to certify that their facilities go above and beyond state licensing requirements. The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides certification for centers that cater to children 8 and younger and meet their standards of early childhood education. The National Association for Family Child Care provides voluntary accreditation specifically for Type B home child care providers. To qualify for NAFCC accreditation, providers must meet training requirements, complete a self-study program and earn favorable reviews from NAFCC officials through in-home observation. Ohio's NAFCC program is called Step Up to Quality, and it will become mandatory for all homes receiving public money by 2020.
Elaine Severs is an award-winning journalist who has been writing professionally since 2001. She has written about politics, health, education, travel and general interest topics for several newspapers and travel guides, including the "New York Times" and Insight Travel Guides. She has a Master of Science in journalism from Columbia University.