What Licenses Are Needed to Start a Senior Care Business in California?

Now that you have made the decision to open a senior care business in the state of California, you may feel overwhelmed in navigating through all the state and local ordinances, rules and regulations that apply to obtaining the necessary permits and licenses required to open your new business venture 2.

Business Plan

The first and one of the most important steps in opening a senior care center is formulating a complete and concise business plan. Determine the number of residents the center can accommodate. Decide if you will provide day care or will you have live-in residents. The gender, level of care required and services offered will determine the size of your senior care center and the number of staff required. This information must be provided in your licensing application. Register your business name with the Secretary of State's Office.


Now that you have determined the size of the building your senior care business will require, it is time to decide upon a location. Whether you open a small "board and care" center in a residential neighborhood or a large assisted-living facility or nursing home, a California community care license is required. The senior care center business must be compatible with local zoning ordinances. A California community care license is specific to the location. The license is not transferable.

Applying for a Community Care License

The California Department of Social Services Senior Care Program issues licenses for residential care for the elderly 123. The program monitors retirement homes and communities to ensure Title 22 compliance. Rules and regulations pertain to day-to-day operations, the physical property, safety and health of residents, supervision and quality of care. The entire facility must be licensed as residential care for the elderly prior to issuance of a certificate of authority.

Prior to issuing a community care license, new owners or operators must attend an orientation class presented by the California Department of Social Services 123. Visit the department's website to find a location in your local area. There is a $50 registration fee, which is non-refundable and must be paid in advance of scheduling a class.


In California, the Administrator Certification Program is a legislatively mandated program designed to increase the knowledge and education of individuals currently employed as administrators or person wishing to become the administrators of group homes, adult residential facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly. Administrators are those designated by the licensee to act on behalf of the licensee in the management of the facility. Administrators and licensees may be the same person. The fee for an initial license as well as renewal is $100

To become a certified administrator for a residential care facility for the elderly, applicants must complete a course of training and pass a background check. As part of the background check, the applicant must receive a criminal record clearance. A clearance is obtained by submitting a request form for a statewide Department of Justice and national Federal Bureau of Investigations criminal background check. The fee for the background check is $84. Applications for a background check are available on the California government's website.