What Happens to Unlicensed Daycare Providers?

Anyone running child-care services, whether it be in or outside of a family home, must obtain the required licenses in order to show they meet all state and federal health and safety standards. Established child day cares that do not obtain license or who violate requirements are subject to a variety of penalties ranging from warnings to fines and in some cases even jail time. Licensing and the inspections that go along with keeping a license help to ensure that children are receiving the safest care possible from qualified caretakers.

Licensing Requirements

In-home day cares where more than two unrelated children are being watched for more than four hours a day are required to be licensed by the state in which they operate. Likewise, day-care centers employing several staff members and caring for numerous children on a regular, all-day basis are required to procure a license through the state.


States are responsible for creating and enforcing regulations to govern the operation of child-care homes and centers 1. These regulations are meant to ensure that supervision of children, equipment and materials condition, discipline, education of staff, child-to-staff ratio and sanitation procedures meet the needs of the children attending the center 1. Some regulations such as child-to-staff ratio differ from state to state so caretakers must be vigilant in finding out the requirements of the state in which they wish to operate 1.


The House Committee of Human Services and Correction levies monetary penalties on family home day cares that violate licensing requirements. Prior to the April 5, 2011, amendment relating to unlicensed child care, the maximum monetary penalty for each violation of licensing laws was $75, but the House passed the amendment doubling the fine to $150.

Stiffer Punishments

Day cares that repeatedly fail to meet licensing requirements or violate regulations that jeopardize their ability to maintain a license are subject to being closed down until standards for safe care are met and/or licenses are obtained.

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