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Starting a Child Care Program

In Alabama, legally operating child care centers can be licensed or exempt from licensure. The licensing authority is the Department of Human Resources.

Basic Licensing Information

I want to open my own center. What should I do first?

Your process needs to happen in a certain order so the best thing to do is call Childcare Resources. We can give you the names and numbers of contact persons at DHR who will send you the proper Minimum Standards Book depending on if you are opening a family home care or a childcare center. Your answers to their questions will determine your path.

How many hours will I need to achieve certification for directorship?

Depending on the amount of education you have already incurred and what degree you have received, you may need as many as 144 hours (Basic Administration course is 25 hours so that leaves 120 which are dispersed evenly among the 6 DHR categories-20 hours each.) By calling Childcare Resources, we can help determine your needs.

Are there other requirements? 

All staff hired after the effective date of these regulations shall meet experience, education, training and age qualifications. Verification of qualifications shall be on file in the center.
1. Qualifications of Staff

a. The center director shall have responsibility for the day to day operation and management of the center including supervision of the planning and implementing of the children's daily activities, supervision of staff, and responsibility for maintenance of the center. The center director shall be at least 19 years of age and shall have at least twenty (20) clock hours of training in administration and management and at least four (4) clock hours of training in quality child care. In addition, the center director shall meet at least one of the following training categories:

(1) One hundred twenty (120) clock hours of training in child care; a high school diploma or general education diploma (G.E.D.); and at least twelve (12) months of working experience as a child care worker/teacher or as a director/program director in a licensed day care center or a Department approved setting. Training in child care shall include at least twenty (20) clock hours in each of these areas:

(a) child development;

(b) health, safety and universal precautions;

(c) quality child care and licensing;

(d) the child care professional and the family;

(e) language development;

(f) positive discipline and guidance.

OR

(2) A child development associate credential (CDA) or a certified child care professional certificate (CCP) from the National Child Care Association Inc. (NCCA) and a high school diploma or general education diploma (G.E.D.);

and at least twelve (12) months of working experience as a child care worker/teacher or as a director/program director in a licensed day care center or a Department approved setting.

OR

(3) An associate degree in child development or early childhood education from a post-secondary school (technical, vocational, junior college), and at least nine (9) months of working experience as a child care worker/teacher or as a director/program director in a licensed day care center or a Department approved setting.

OR

(4) A bachelor's degree in child development or early childhood education and at least six (6) months of working experience as a child care worker/teacher or as a director/program director in a licensed day care center or a Department approved setting.

b. Child care workers/teachers who have primary responsibility for the care of a group of children shall be at least 19 years of age and shall have a high school diploma or general education diploma (G.E.D.). Within thirty (30) days after employment, child care workers/ teachers shall have at least twelve (12) clock hours of training in child care and development through participation in workshops, meetings, videotapes, or one-to-one consultation, unless written documentation of prior equivalent training is on file. Training in child care shall include at least one (1) hour in each of these areas:

(1) child development;

(2) health, safety and universal precautions;

(3) quality child care and licensing;

(4) the child care professional and the family;

(5) language development;

(6) positive discipline and guidance.

c. Aides/assistant teachers who assist with groups of children shall be at least 16 years of age and shall:

(1) have at least an 8th grade education;

(2) work under the direct supervision of a person qualified as a child care worker/teacher;

(3) and shall not be counted in the required staff-child ratio.

d. Service staff, such as cooks, janitors, or bus drivers, shall not be counted in the required staff-child ratio unless they meet child care worker qualifications, are acting as a child care worker, and are giving full attention to the children. (See Section D.,1., a., and b., page 23, for requirements regarding staff coverage.)

e. The driver of a center vehicle transporting children shall be at least 19 years of age and have a valid driver's license.

f. A substitute staff person shall meet all qualifications of staff for whom he/she is substituting.

What if I am opening a Family Child Care Home?

Qualifications

a. After the effective date of these regulations, applicants for an initial license shall have a high school diploma or G. E. D. (general education diploma). Homes licensed before the effective date of these regulations are exempt from this requirement as long as the license remains current.

b. The licensee shall be at least 19 years of age.

c. Prior to initial licensing, the applicant/licensee shall submit to the Department a current Infant-Child (Pediatric) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Certificate (CPR) and a current First Aid Certificate. On-line CPR and First Aid training are not acceptable. (Revised effective December 7, 2007)

d. The licensee shall submit an updated Infant-Child (Pediatric) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Certificate (CPR) and an updated First Aid Certificate to the Department when these certificates expire. On-line CPR and First Aid training are

not acceptable (Revised effective July 8, 2005 and December 7, 2007)

e. Prior to initial licensing, the applicant/licensee shall have at least twenty-four (24) clock hours of training in child care and development through participation in workshops, meetings, videotapes, or one to one consultation. Written documentation shall be submitted to the Department. Child care training shall include at least four (4) hours in each of these areas:

(1) child development

(2) health, safety and universal precautions

(3) quality child care and licensing

(4) the child care professional and the family

(5) language development

(6) positive discipline and guidance.

Training in CPR and First Aid shall not be counted toward required training hours.

(Revised effective December 7, 2007)

f. Thereafter, the licensee shall have at least twenty (20) clock hours of training related to child care each year. Documentation of training shall be on file in the home. Child care training shall include hours in each of these areas:

(1) child development

(2) health, safety and universal precautions;

(3) quality child care and licensing;

(4) the child care professional and the family;

(5) language development;

(6) positive discipline and guidance.

Training in CPR and First Aid shall not be counted toward required training hours.

For more detailed information about licensing, try these resources:

Helpful Resources For Child Care Programs

The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies Provider Pages contains information to help you as you start your own child care program.

Child And Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides nutritious meals and snacks to infants and children as a regular part of their day care.  A variety of public or private nonprofit child care centers, Head Start programs, outside-school-hours care centers, and other institutions which are licensed or approved to provide day care services participate in CACFP. CACFP reimburses centers at free, reduced-price, or paid rates for eligible meals and snacks served to enrolled children, targeting benefits to those children most in need.

The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for enforcing some of our nation’s most comprehensive federal labor laws on topics, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, child labor and special employment, and more.

The Alabama Department of Public Health works closely with the community to preserve and protect the public’s health, to provide caring, quality services and serve the people of Alabama by assuring conditions in which they can be healthy.

Blount County Health Department
(205) 274-2120
Jefferson County Department of Public Health
(205) 933-9110
Shelby County Health Department
(205) 620-1650
Walker County Health Department
(205) 221-8800

Suggested Childcare Resources' Training Courses

Basic Administration 25-hour Course: The Basic Administration 25-hour Course is offered 3 times per year. The Basic Administration Course will improve the quality of child care by satisfying the administration hours requirement for new directors and through providing upcoming directors with the information needed to successfully open and maintain a child care program. 

Director’s Network: Director’s Network is a collaborative effort between Childcare Resources, Harris Early Learning Center and various other child care centers.   Director’s Network provides one hour of professional development training which is geared toward specific issues in child care. The goal of the Director’s Network is to positively impact quality child care by giving directors opportunities to share ideas, collaborate, support and learn from each other and from speakers.  Director’s Network meets six times a year.   

Director’s Retreat:  Director’s Retreat is offered three times per year.  The retreats provide an opportunity for directors to engage in activities that bring new and fun ideas into their child care programs.  Topics include staff management, leadership and management, how to deal with difficult topics with young children, helping parents with the stresses of today, using personal skills to develop professional competencies and improving program quality. 

Starting from Scratch:  The Starting from Scratch Course is offered two times per year.    Starting from Scratch provides an overview of the DHR Minimum Standards, components to starting a business, business plans, health codes, fire codes, zoning requirements, program management and more. 

Family Child Care Home Basics: The Family Child Care Home Basics Course is offered two times per year.  Family Child Care Home Basics is a course designed for individuals wanting to open a family child care home.  The course provides an overview of the components of family child care, steps to opening a family child care home and preparation for becoming a family child care home provider. 



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