Regulated child care in Ohio

From Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

What is covered by the licensing law in ohio?
Ohio Law defines “child day care” as administering to the needs of children outside of school hours by persons other than their parents or guardians on a less than twenty four hour basis. Some types of child care must be regulated in Ohio; other types of child care may operate without a license.

What must be regulated?
In brief: Homes and centers caring for more than 6 children must be licensed by the state. Family child care homes caring for 6 or fewer children (Type B homes) are not regulated. Type B home providers may choose to be certified through their county Department of Jobs and Family Services, but it is not required unless they are receiving payment through public funds. Homes caring for more than 6 children must be state licensed.

Seven or more children of any age. Centers must be licensed. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services licenses over 3500 child care centers which care for over 215,000 children each day.

    Staff-to-child ratio for centers, based on children’s age: 

  • Infants (birth to 12 months): 1 to 5, or 2 to 12 in same room
  • Infants (12 to 18 months): 1 to 6
  • Toddlers (18 mo. to 2-1/2 yrs.): 1 to 7
  • Toddlers (2-1/2 to 3 years): 1 to 8
  • Preschool (3 to 4 years): 1 to 12
  • Preschool (4 to 5 years): 1 to 14
  • School age (5 to 11 years): 1 to 18
  • School age (11 through 14 years): 1 to 20

Type A Homes
Seven to twelve children (or four to twelve children if four children are under two years of age) cared for in the provider’s personal residence. The provider’s own children under six years of age must be included in the total count. Type A homes must be licensed.

Type B homes
One to six children cared for in the provider’s personal residence. No more than three children may be under two years of age. The provider’s own children under six years of age must be included in the total count. Anyone can operate a Type B Home without a license. However, care for more than 6 children requires a license. Type B homes must be certified by the county department of Job and Family Services if the child care is paid for with public funds.

Schoolage centers
Seven or more children aged kindergarten and above. Schoolage centers must be licensed.

Child day camps
Program which operates for less than seven hours a day and only during the vacation of the public schools, cared only for schoolage children, and which is at least 50% outdoor based. Child day camps must register with the department each year. If child care is paid for with public funds, the camp must also meet American Camping Association Accreditation standards, or be approved by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.


Some examples of programs which do not require licensure:

  • care provided in a child’s own home;
  • programs which operate two weeks or less a year;
  • programs where parents remain on the premises (unless at the parent’s employment site);
  • specialized training in specific subjects, such as art, drama, dance, swimming, etc.
  • programs which operate one day a week for no more than six hours.

Programs licensed by other agencies:
Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Centers – In Ohio, the Department of Education licenses child care programs operated by public and private chartered schools, and Head Start programs.

Rules and regulations
Ohio’s child care regulations consist of basic requirements designed to prevent harm to children’s health, safety and development. The regulations cover the following areas:

License/Approvals, Staff Requirements, Staffing/Grouping,
Space Requirements, Program Equipment, Policies/Procedures,
Safety/Discipline, Health Program, Children’s Records,
Nutrition, Handwashing/Diapers, Infant Care

Ohio’s child care centers are inspected prior to receiving a license, and after license issuance – once a year (for part time centers) or twice a year (for full time centers) – to be sure they continue to meet the requirements. Centers will also be investigated in response to complaints. Ohio’s child care centers must post their license in a conspicuous place where parents can see it. They must also post copies of inspection reports for parent’s review.

Understanding child care licensing and knowing how to check licensing records is an important part of finding the right place for your child. By understanding licensing, parents can be more certain that their children are in a care setting where they are adequately supervised by qualified professionals and that they are in environments that are both safe and well-maintained.

For more information, visit Child Care in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ child care web page, or contact: ODJFS Child Care Licensing Section.

For information regarding programs licensed by the Ohio Department of Education call the toll-free number at 877-644-6338 or the TTY number 888 886-0181

Standards above and beyond licensing:
Visit these web sites for more information about standards above and beyond licensing:

National Association for the Education of Young Children has a voluntary accreditation program for child care centers who wish to meet quality standards that go above and beyond basic licensing requirements. Ohio has 182 accredited child care centers. See individual center listings for more details.

National Association for Family Child Care has a voluntary accreditation program for type B family day care homes. Visit their web site for more information about their organization and its services to family day care providers.