Alabama Child Care Licensing and Regulations

There are different laws and regulations regarding child-care in all states, even some states may have different regulations for different countries or cities in it. Throughout Alabama, lawfully functioning child-care centers are either licensed or work without licensure. The authority responsible for licensing is DHR (Alabama Department of Human Resources). Before issuing the license, child-care center is inspected by Department of Human Resources, fire department and health department. The validity of these licenses is 2 years and they must be displayed in the child-care centers.

The purpose of licensure is just to stipulate regulation yardsticks for child-care institutes; however, it does not provide any promise of good quality child-care. It is the responsibility of parents to visits these care centers during their working hours and confirm whether their children are being provided with the level of care as it should be.

Types of Child-care that Need Licensure:

Child-care licensure is a form of administrative activity by which a group or an individual is granted permission by governmentto start and run a child-care service.In Alabama, the county or state offices of ‘Department of Human Resources’arein charge of issuing/revoking license, providing claim/appeal systems, and monitoring the conformity of child-care centers with established standards.

Following types of child-care in Alabama need to be licensed:

Child-care Centers: Any Full-time or part-time child-care facility in non-residential venue managing thirteen children or more. This category of child-care includes preschools, nursery schools, and prekindergarten working more than four hours per day.
Group child-care Homes: Full-time or part-time child-care in a home for about seven to twelve children – The children who are not yet of official school-age are also included in it.
Family Child-care Homes: Full-time or part-time child-care in a home for about six children or less than that. The children who are not yet of official school-age are also included in it.

Types of Child-care that Don’t Need Licensure:

Alabama State exempts some child-care facilities from the requirement of proper licensure. As this type child-care centers are not checked or monitored by any regulatory body, so it is parents’ responsibility to conduct proper investigation about care provider’s experience and background before entrusting their child to them.

Following types of child-care in Alabama need not to be licensed:

  • Child-care given at child’s own home or if provider is child’s relatives
  • Play school or Kindergarten that don’t operate more than 4 hours
  • Activity courses aimed at school-age children run by government, charitable groups or civic society
  • Religiously associated child-care facilities that have been given a formal exemption
  • Projects run by universities or colleges

When child-care projects are operated by government elementary schools, its regulation is responsibility of the ‘Department of Education’.Other state agencies also play their regulatory role.

How to become a licensed child-care provider in Alabama?
If you’re going to start a child-care or day-care center in Alabama, you’ll first have to acquaint yourself with all the regulations and policies set up by Alabama’s Department of Human Resources. There are certain licensure requirements in Alabama that must be first fulfilled in order to evolve as an authorized and certified child-care provider, otherwise regulatory bodies will not issue you a working license in this state. Below is given an overview of the information and links that you will have to follow for beginning child-care licensing procedure in Alabama.
Before applying for an Alabama child-care licensure, you’ll have to go through the least criterions for starting a child-care center – Review all the procedures and regulations specified by Alabama’s State Department of Human Resources. This instruction manual can be availed in paper format from any Department of Human Resources (DHR) office or via online portal of DHR.
This instruction manual is to inform the aspirants of establishing a child-care about licensing and its application procedure. The content also includes facility prerequisites, child-care programs, staff obligations, administration, transportation, and snack/meal patterns etc.
Application Process:
Once you’ve thoroughly studied these least standards for child-care centers in the state of Alabama you’ll then have to start the license application procedure. All forthcoming Alabama child-care applicants need to fill in Application Form provided by DHR and then include its required attachments.
This license application needs a photocopy of the child-care operating procedures, photocopy of rules for regulatory and service charges, phone number/address/name of the Head or Key Operator of child-care facility- On top of all other requirements, applicant should enclose with its application a formal report of the inspection conducted by fire and health departments verifying his center safe for the children. You’ll also have to obtain a food permit from state health department if need be. Last of all, the application needs a written declaration from a local zoning department stating that your center is compliant with present zoning requisites.
After you’ve completed your license application, you’ll also have to fill-in the attachment file of application. This attachment needs to contain the signatures of every proprietor, center executive or board participant; nevertheless, it might not be required if there’s just one prospective owner.
Child Neglect/Abuse Clearance:
Along with your child-care license application, you also need to submit a child abuse clearance request to DHR. This clearance request application is also to be filled and signed by all prospective owners.
Background Inspection:
All prospective board participants or owners of Alabama child-care centers are required to submit their criminal background inspection report before they are issued a child-care license.

Medical Assessment:
The owner or director of child-care center is needed to undertake a complete medical checkup in order to ensure that she/he has good health condition. The medical checkup report should also contain a tuberculosis test.
Educational Prerequisites:
There are also certain educational prerequisites specified for prospective child-care directors or owners; thus, applicants must also have required educational profile so as to get licensed as a owner of child-care center in Alabama. In minimum requirement, owner is needed to have GED or high school degree/diploma, no less than one year working experience in any child-care center, and 120-hour child-care training.
On the other hand, the applicant might have a degree in ‘Child Development Associate’ (CDA) from the ‘National Child Care Association’ in addition to 12-month working experience or a degree in ‘Child Development Associate’ along with 9-month working experience. A child-care owner might also have a bachelor degree in ‘Child Development’ with a minimum of 6-month working experience in any child-care facility.

How to ensure if child-care provider is licensed in Alabama?
For parents, it is a big concern to find the best child-care center for their children on their budget. For some it is really stressful to decide on a quality child-care facility available in their locality. To this end, some community organizations provide referrals to help parents select the best possible child-care option. However, the most authentic resource is ‘Child Care Services Division’ of ‘Alabama Department of Human Resources’ – these authorities offer information about child-care licensing and also guide about selecting a reliable facility. The detailed information can be found at DHR official website (find the link below).
If you want to find out the licensing state of a child-care center in Alabama, you can help yourself by following a ‘Self-Assessment Guide’. This guide will let you know the list of licensure requirements that must be met by all child-care centers in the state.You can avail these guides in various languages for your understanding.Moreover, you can take help from county office or child-care regional office in your locality and request them to review the file of licensee’s facility. This file contains the records of all investigations and evaluations of specified child-care facility conducted by licensing authorities and all the complaints against that facility corroborated by state department.

Documents that you must see displayed in a Licensed Child-Care Center:

Most current license and approval/permit from DHR
Forms for Public notices
Most current licensing valuation form
Most current deficiency information (if applicable)
Adverse or corrective action plan notices (if applicable)
Most current fire assessment report
Most current inspection written reports and food license from state health unit
Snacks/meal menu
Emergency numbers for medical aid, fire unit, law enforcement, poison control center and substitute help
Emergency measures

Questions that you must inquire from a Child-Care Center

Are you a licensed child-care or exempted from this requirement?
How many children will be accommodated in our child’s group?
How experienced your teachers are?
What is the training and educational criteria for the teachers at your center?
How do you familiarize the new children with your ambience?
How can parents inquire about their children’s day at center?
How weather, fire, and medical emergencies are handled in your facility?
Are parents allowed to visit the center any time?
What is your action plan when teacher of my child is either on vacation or sick?
What children safety precautions are adopted by you when you take children on a trip or transport them by van or bus?
What is your service fees and when it is due?

Official website of Department of Human Resources, Alabama State…/Licensing_Overview.aspx
DHR Standards for child-care centers – Procedures and Regulations
DHR: Licensing Information
DHR Information for child-care licensing application