Day Care Center

Day Care Center DefinitionA Day Care Center is “any child care facility which regularly provides day care for less than 24 hours per day for more than 8 children in a family home or more than 3 children in a facility other than a family home, including senior citizen building” (excluding school systems). Illinois administrative code Part 407 Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers), sets out the standards for licensure as a day care home and describes how to apply for a license. Day Care Center licenses are also valid for three years. The license, which must be posted, indicated the maximum number of children allowed in the facility and areas of care.


Day care centers must have a qualified director on site at all times. This director must be 21 years of age or older, completed two years of college or have equivalent experience and credentials. Early childhood teachers have to be at least 19 years old with two years of college or equivalent experience. Any school-age workers, must be at least 19 year old and at least 5 years older than the oldest child in their care, with one year of college or equivalent experience. Every staff member must have a current medical report on file.

Child to Staff Ratios

The child to staff ratio depends on the age of the child because younger children require more assistance with activities and needs as well as general supervision.

Age of Children

Provider to Child Ratio for Child Care Centers in Illinois

Maximum Group Size

Infants 1:4 12
Toddlers 1:5 15
2 Years 1:8 16
3 Years 1:10 20
4 Years 1:10 20
Preschool (5 years) 1:20 20
School Age (kindergarteners present 1:20 30
Mixed Age Group Ratio for youngest child in group 30

There is an exception where one early childhood teacher and an assistant can supervise up to 30 children if all the children are at least 5 years old. Student and youth aides are not counted for maintaining the required child to staff ratios.

Background Checks

All staff members are subject to background checks for any criminal convictions or child abuse and neglect.


The center’s director must complete 15 hours of in-service training every year. The facility must have at least one person certified in first aid (including CPR and Heimlich maneuver) at all times.


Day care centers are inspected annually by a DCFS licensed staff member. DCFS also investigates any complaints regarding licensing violations.

Health and Safety Requirements

As expected, there are numerous health and safety requirements including: no child may be left unattended, exit must be kept clear, conduct emergency drills (fire and tornado), no smoking or tobacco use in center or in presence of children, first aid kit, sanitary conditions, play space must be fenced or protected from traffic and hazards, equipment must be in safe condition, means for parents to have direct telephone contact with a staff member during hours of operations, toys and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected daily, clearly defined diaper changing area, hand washing, infants and toddlers must be kept in separate are away from older children, and medication and other hazards must be inaccessible to children.

There are also nutritional and safety guidelines for food and snacks: menus must be posted, meals and snacks must be nutritional guidelines, children must be given snack if in care 2-5 hours, children in care 5-10 hours must receive one meal and two snacks or two meals and one snack, children in care over 10 hours must receive two meals and two snacks or one meal and one snack.

The day care center must have on file a medical report for each child indicating that they have the appropriate immunizations.

Child Development

The day care must provide a balance of active and quiet activity, with indoor and outdoor activities to encourage movement. The activities and materials must provide of variety of developmentally appropriate activities. The center must also provide opportunities for school-age children to do homework if requested. The staff members must treat each child with respect, regardless of age, gender, ability, culture, ethnicity, or religion.

Parent Communication and Involvement

Parents have the right to visit the day care center at any time without an appointment. This helps centers stay accountable to parents during all hours of the day, not just at drop-off or pick-up times. Children may only be released to a parent or guardian or a person the parent designates in writing. Parents must provide up to date emergency numbers.

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