Becoming Licensed

The mission of the Department of Early Learning (DEL) is to support access to safe, healthy, quality and culturally relevant child care for the children of Washington State.

Do I need to be licensed?

Individuals and agencies that offer child care must be licensed through the State of Washington with few exceptions. You need to be licensed if:

  • You are caring for a child or children who are not related to you (except a close relative);
  • The care is on an ongoing, regularly scheduled basis for the purpose of engaging in business.
Persons who care for a relative's, neighbor’s or friend’s child or children (known as Family, Friend and Neighbor, or FFN) with or without compensation, where the person providing care for periods of less than twenty-four hours does not conduct such an activity on an ongoing, regularly scheduled basis for the purpose of engaging business, which includes but is not limited to, advertising.  Such care is not required to be licensed but is an option for FFN providers. 

For more information about licensing, visit the DEL Licensing web page.

Minimum Licensing Requirements

For the safety of children, regulations must be met in order for a person to qualify for a child care license. The Department of Early Learning (DEL), Policy Section is responsible for writing rules called the Minimum Licensing Requirements for licensing child care centers and homes.


Here are steps for opening a child care business, "Licensed Child Care in Washington State: A Guide for Child Care Providers" a booklet, which is a valuable tool to help prospective providers understand the licensing process.


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