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Requirements for Day Care Center

Requirements for Child Day Care Centers in Cincinnati

The information presented herein for the City of Cincinnati is intended only to provide a general picture of the industry, a partial checklist, and sources of current comprehensive information. The regulations are regularly reviewed and periodically modified. It is likely that similar controls will be in place in other locations, particularly in the State of Ohio. It is necessary to inquire with local authorities before planning a center in any location.

State of Ohio Administrative Codes 5101:2-12-01 thru -99 are incorporated and enhanced in the City of Cincinnati Board of Health Regulation 00013, which controls local childcare centers.

Licensing is required by the State of Ohio and by the City of Cincinnati and can be applied for at:

Ohio Dept. of Job & Family Services Cincinnati District Office
Bureau of Child Care Services
222 E. Central Pkwy

Cincinnati, OH 45202

Telephone: 1-866-635-3748 Option 2 Ext. 1 Telephone: 1-866-635-3748 Option 2 Ext. 1

Day Care Licensing
Cincinnati Dept. of Health
3101 Burnet Avenue, Room 202 Cincinnati, OH 45229

Telephone: 513-357-7456 Telephone: 513-357-7460

In addition, a help line is available 1-866-886-3537 option 2 from 8:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.

For an excellent source of information see: jfs.ohio.gov\cdc\providers.stm Completed applications should be mailed to:
Ohio Dept. of Job & Family Services
TSDC P.O. Box 714834
Columbus, Ohio 43271-4834

Other valuable sources of information are:

Comprehensive Community Child Care (also called “4C”), is a non-profit agency organized to provide consultation, technical assistance and other services to promote quality child care in the Cincinnati area. The main office is at 1924 Dana Ave, Cincinnati 45207. There is a Northern Kentucky located at 20 Grand Ave. Ft. Thomas, Ky. The phone number for both locations is 513-221-0033. This organization is very interested in working with people who want to establish quality daycare facilities.

City of Cincinnati Board of Health Child Day Care Licensing Law. Send requests and the required fee by check or money order to the Day Care Licensing address shown above.

Ohio Department of Development publication Quality Care for Children. This very informative and useful publication may be obtained from the Department of Human Services at the address shown above.

Both the state and the city provide consulting services to guide applicants in the licensing procedure and to assist in the planning process.

Who is required to have a license?

The City of Cincinnati requires that a valid license be on hand in the name of the child day care center:

  • If four or more children under two (current age) are in the care of the care center at one time, or if seven or more children of any age are in the care of the care center at one time.
  • Children of the staff and of volunteers, or playmates, who are in the center, must be included in the count that establishes the requirement for the licensing.


State of Ohio

Final written license approval must be obtained from the state; however, City of Cincinnati agencies have been delegated authority to certify to the state an applicant’s compliance with some requirements. Applications should be made to:

  • Ohio Department of Human Services: final state licensing authority.
  • Ohio Department of Industrial Relations, Board of Building Standards, or a certified local building department: environmental, safety and sanitation requirements.
  • State Fire Marshall or designated local fire official: fire safety regulations.
  • Cincinnati Department of Health (on behalf of the state): food service operation, if required or provided (see below), or an exemption certificate. For more information on state requirements, see:


City of Cincinnati

A license must also be obtained from the Cincinnati Department of Health, Day Care Licensing. An application must be made to the agencies that participate in the final licensing:

  • Building Code Plan Examination: building, facilities, equipment plan.
  • Zoning Code Administration: use of location.
  • Fire Prevention Division: fire safety inspection.
  • Inspection Bureau Inc.: building plan compliance.
  • Health Department: environmental safety inspection.
  • Health Department, Food Service Inspection: food service operator license.


Application forms to the state and the city must be accompanied by a Business Plan with content essential to ensuring specific required procedures and sound business policies, including, for example:

  1. Plan of Operation

Total child capacity; days of week in operation; hours of operation; snacks and meals; quality goals; planned adult to child ratios; staff skills requirements; organization; job descriptions and scheduling; continuing staff training; employment policies; staff pay schedules; child care fee schedules; financial plan including P&L and cash flow projections; marketing plan including target market strategy and advertising.

It is also important to consider early in your planning the role to be played by your insurance coverage. Liability insurance is a must! Discuss this with your personal insurance agent.

  1. Sample Files on Staff and Children

Background checks through the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation are required.

  • staff-signed documents attesting to their reading and understanding the definitions of child abuse and neglect and their responsibility to report such incidents.
  • medical records stating staff members are tested and free of communicable diseases.
  • records of staff specialized training in health, safety and child development skills.
  • children’s medical records verifying prescribed inoculations and absence of communicable diseases.
  1. Program Policies and Procedures
  • ratio of ages of children to be admitted at one time.
  • child development goals, plans and programs. Will structured education be included?
  • child activity schedules, furnished toys and equipment.
  • nutrition plans and schedules.
  1. Parent’s Handbook
  • planned child development goals.
  • hours of operation.
  • snacks, meals and nourishment plans.
  • child’s daily health and hygiene requirements for admission.
  • drop off and pick up rules and security.
  • fees for child care and payment requirements.


The city’s published purpose of licensing a child day care center is to assure care, protection, supervision and the promotion of sound growth and development necessary to the child’s health, safety and welfare.

The entrepreneur who considers launching a child care center or buying and continuing operations of an existing one is urged to investigate and take into account, at the earliest possible point, the extensive and very strict standards that must be met in this industry. Some of these involve the specifications for housing and space per child, facilities and equipment; fire safety and staff training for child medical emergencies; ratios of staff and assistants to numbers of children; sanitation; meals; and education programs. Details are available through the state and local agencies listed above.

Need support in getting through all of the requirements for a daycare? Request a free SCORE Mentor here.


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