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Opening a Family Child Care Home

It is important to realize that childcare is a business. In Oklahoma, you must have a license to care for children in your home unless you are only caring for relative’s children or operating on an informal basis.    

You will have some  start-up costs to meet licensing requirements,  purchase equipment and supplies, etc. In most circumstances, the first year will be a period of low enrollment.

This means that for the first few months, you may be bringing in insufficient income to meet your expenses. You need to plan for this. There are many resources available online and through the local Resource and Referral agency to assist you in the business side of opening a family child care home. 

This information is designed to help you take the necessary steps for applying for a license to applying to contract with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS).  DHS staff are committed to making these processes occur as quickly as possible. However, it does take time to complete the steps below, therefore you should prepare accordingly.

Step 1: License

Your DHS Child Care Licensing Specialist will help you get a permit. A permit is usually recommended when you have provided and met the following:

  • Completed application 
  • Proof of ownership/sponsorship
  • Copy of your Driver's License 
  • Copy of your Social Security Card
  • Criminal background checks from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) for you and all household members 18 or older. Out-of-state criminal background checks are also required if you have been a resident of Oklahoma for less than one year  
  • The home has had a licensing monitoring visit that shows you meet all the requirements listed in the publication Licensing Requirements for Family Child Care Homes 
  • No other problems have been identified such as Child Welfare history, criminal history, police contacts, etc...

When a permit is recommended, it is not "official" until it has been approved by both the licensing supervisor and the Division of Child Care State Office. Once approved, you automatically receive a one-star rating.

For more information on obtaining a child care center permit or license, please contact your local licensing office.

During this step, you can also be filling out your Stars application and working on meeting the criteria (such as obtaining training) you will need to qualify for a higher star rating.

Step 2 Stars Criteria

Note: You must be on permit or license to qualify for a higher star rating.

A higher star status can be recommended when you have provided documentation that shows you meet the following criteria:

1+ Star

  • You have a permit/license
  • Request for Child Care Home Star Certification (Stars application)
  • Documentation showing t20 clock hours of training.
  • A daily schedule that shows reading to children at least 15 minutes a day.
  • Sample written parent policies.
  • Sample written parent contracts.
  • A sample daily care sheet
  • Provided a list of community resources
  • Licensing visits show a compliant history

2 Star

  • Provide documentation of all required at the 1+ Star level and meet educational criteria outlined in the Stars Resource Book.

For more information on obtaining a higher star level, please contact your local Stars Outreach Specialist.

Step 3: Contract with DHS for Child Care Subsidy

Many working families are eligible for assistance through DHS for the cost of child care. DHS contracts with child care providers to help eligible families pay these costs. Contracting with DHS allows more families to be able to select your facility. 

 Before a contract can be signed and approved for a family child care home, providers must have either:

  • an DHS permit and a 1+ Star rating or higher; or
  • an DHS license and a 1 Star or higher rating.

You must have a land line phone. The contract application process includes:

  • Providing your photo identification
  • Providing your Social Security Card
  • Providing you Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) Criminal History Information Report
  • Providing proof of ownership of the facility
  • Viewing a training video
  • Reading and signing a contract

The training video you will view includes information about:

  • Getting and keeping a contract with DHS
  • The business and record-keeping side of child care paid by DHS
  • How to get paid by DHS
  • Contracting rights and responsibilities

Contracts are approved or denied by staff in the State Office, Adult and Family Services, Child Care Unit. The effective date of a contract is never earlier than the date it is approved and signed in the State Office. A contract is never backdated.

If you care for children eligible for DHS subsidy before your contract is effective, DHS will not pay you for those days. The parent is responsible for paying the full cost of care. The parent is also responsible for the cost of care provided before the date that parent is approved for child care assistance. You will receive a Notice of Action after child care is approved at your facility.

After being approved for a contract, child care providers must use the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) attendance tracking and payment system to receive subsidy payments from DHS.

  • You must have an account at a financial institution so an electronic payment can be made
  • You must call Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) at (405) 947-2700 after a child is authorized to attend your facility to ask them to install a point-of-service (POS) machine. You should receive the POS machine within 10 days for the date you call ACS.
  • Although DHS recommends that you not care for children until you receive the POS machine, if you choose to do so, you must record attendance on Form ADM-12-S, Child Care Claims.

If you enter into a collaboration or agreement with Head Start, Early Head Start, public schools, 21st Century Learning Center or any other program receiving state of federal funds, you must call the Adult and Family Services, Child Care Unit at (405) 521-3931 within 30 days to report that agreement. You cannot receive payment from OKDSH for the same hours covered by that collaboration or agreement.

For more information on obtaining a contract to accept child care subsidy, please contact Adult and Family Services.