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Licensed Versus Non-Licensed

I am currently reviewing in-home childcare options for my son and was wondering if it is better to go with a licensed daycare provider or if non-licensed is okay. The licensed ones I am looking at take up to 10 kids for 2 caregivers and non-licensed are SAHM that want to make a little money, but only watch 1 or 2 kids. Any experiences you can share would be wonderful. Thank you.

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I am a licensed home daycare provider and would not have it any other way. Licensing is there to make sure the children in the daycare are safe. Why as a home daycare provider would you not go that extra step to provide the safest environment for the children in your care? When you are licensed you need to stay up-to-date on CPR/First Aid, the children need to be up-to-date on their immunizations, balance meals need to be served, 15 hrs of continuing education each year,tornado/fire drills need to be done monthly, you can only watch a certian number of children, fingerprinting and background checks on all adults that live in the home, gun regulations, smoking regulations, all animals need to be up-to-date on their shots, this is just a few of the things. All this is to keep your children safe. As for the activities licensing does not change what I do with the children. We still do our daily activites and go on field trips, but because I am licensed you sign a form saying I have your permission to go on field trips. Once a year you know someone is coming in to my home to make sure it is safe. Maybe the licensing rep. will see something I missed or a safer way to have something. Licensing is also free so money is not an issue. It is like anything else though you still need to do your research and find someone that fits your needs. I want to provide the children in my care a safe and loving environment and being licensed helps me provide this.

2 moms found this helpful

I guess it's all in what you expect from a provider.
I am a licensed provider and have been for 14 yrs.
a non licensed provider won't have to do anything she doesn't want. She doesn't take the courses to keep up with the childcare classes which are very informative and helpful in caring for children.
A licensed provider is required to have so many hrs of childcare classes, we are also required to have a saftey plan for evacuation in case of an emergency.
Yes we are visited by D.C.F.S once a yr unless someone reports something about us but wouldn't you want your provider
to be held to that high standard.
We have to have our house inspected but aleast you will have peace of mind that we keepour houses clean( you never know when D.C.F.S. will show up) cover outlets, have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher on hand. A non licensed facility isn't required to have anything.
One response mentioned about home daycares letting children watch t.v. I know I do not the children in my care are allowe to watch 1 hr of educational programming 1/2 hr before lunch and 1/2 hr before the parents arrive as a wind down time.
But as i said it's all in what you expect from someone that is going to care for the most precious person in your life.
Don't get me wrong there are some great people that are non licensed and there are some licensed that are not.
Just make sure you find the person that you are very comfortable with and watch for signs with which ever you choose.
If at all possible when you interview ask alot of questions and maybe have someone with you toevaluate the situation on a different level as you will be in a conversation and might miss something.
If you have any questions you can e-mail me back for more info.
Good Luck in your search I know it's a hard decision.

2 moms found this helpful

I think home daycare licensing is a great thing. Licensed home daycares are held to a level of standards and continuing education that brings up the level of professionalism for all home daycares and also, the providers have access to education and peer support. I'm a big fan of home daycares as a concept for kids - I like the family atmosphere, small group of families, and mixed-age grouping - and I've found that parents who are used to center care are very suspicious of home daycare as a concept because of the perception of kids stuck in front of a TV in an unsafe environment or whatever.

However, when it comes to an individual choice, our current daycare provider no longer keeps up a license. I'm not sure why she made that choice, but since we are in the daycare with families we've known for many years (second children for most of us) we have stayed with her in spite of that and we are still happy with the level of care.

When I was looking at daycares originally, the biggest factors I looked for were (1) the background check of all people living in the household [with licensing] (2) safety standards (3) long-term commitment to the business (4) following of modern accepted discipline and early education methods and, for us personally (5) a daycare large enough to have two adults on hand most days. But we toured daycares that met all of those criteria that didn't quite "click" with us, too.

1 mom found this helpful

Over the years we had to use both types and they both have the pro/cons. YOU need to decide what is best for YOU and for YOUR child.
I did NOT like the formal center as my child was "NUMBER XX" each day - not very personable. Sick days was another issue. As long as they were not losing lunch my private care would take them; and if they needed to just sit and be held for an hour in private care that is okay - NOT in public/lisensed care. I had a private care <non-licensed> mom who took my boys for over 5 years, and if I would have needed her with our youngest, I would have sent her in a heart beat. When-ever I am back home we visit and our boys send her 'Mother's Day', holiday, and birthday cards still!!
My best advise is interview / interview / interview, and besure to check references!!

Good Luck

Now, SAHM : we have six children ages 22 - 5!!

1 mom found this helpful


I am a mom of two, I was a nanny and then a licensed home daycare provider for about 2 years, but one of my closest friends and neighbors is unlicensed and watches out of her home also.

I was licensed to give parents a peace of mind. When you are licensed there are certain safety standards that must be upheld and you are only allowed a certain number of children within certain age brackets. This is helpful because it's figured out in a manner that if there were a real emergency (fire, tornado, etc.) then you wouldn't have more children to carry, etc. then you could feasibly handle.

I think that you need to check all your options and go with the one that gives you most peace of mind. I usually had 2-3 other children besides my son even though I was allowed more. I do know unlicensed folks that have more children. But I also have heard stories of licensed folks not upholding their end of their licenses....it comes down to the person watching and interacting with your child.

Honestly, when I begin my home daycare again (on hiatus since I had my little girl) I don't know that I will keep up my license simply because I already adhere to all the safety standards but I don't have the extra time to keep up the continuing education hours (though I do this now on my own with all the info I stay updated on to care for my own kiddos) that is required and keep up all the paperwork that is required.

Just check out all your options.

Hi R.,

I'm a licensed childcare provider, the difference is being licensed and non-licensed is that when you're licensed you have to have a clean criminal FBI background check, as do your assistants and everyone living in your home over the age of 13, TB tested, checkup, dogs have to have their shots up to date, DCFS and the fire marshall and the rep. from the USDA Food program will stop in at any time unannounced. Also, DCFS runs these background checks periodically unnannounced at anytime. We also have to stage fire and storm and tornado drills monthly and be prepared to show the State your drill log at anytime and it must be up to date. All outlet covers must be covered if not in use, no hanging wires or exposed wires, the home must be maintained and clean at all times, all toys and equipment must be safe, clean and disinfected daily. We all have to be CPR/FIRST AID certified, there are regulations for guns in home (which I don't have) but some people do. I'm not knocking non-licensed, I feel it's your personal choice. It's just that being licensed, we are actually monitored more closely than the centers believe it or not. My daycare kids are also not sitting in front of a tv all day, my 3 year olds are reading and working on kindergarten level work, my 4 year olds are working on 1st grade level curriculum, science, math (addition and subtraction) and social studies. So you get what you pay for.
Licensed or non-licensed, some parents are assuming that because the kids are not in a center that they're not being cared for properly or playing, that has happened in centers personally to my kids, that's when I snatched them out of the center and utilized my college courses in Early Childhood Education and received my license. I feel as though I have the best job in the world!

Hope this helps!

You should definitly look at both types of daycare. I am with an in-home licensed provider that I love. Make sure if you are talking with an non-licensed provider that they are reporting their income for taxes. You want to make sure that you can claim your daycare expenses on your tax return.

Hello R.,
I also watch children in my home. I am not licensed, but I still provide excellent care. I do not care what anyone says, there are plenty of licensed daycares that are NOT providing stimulating or loving envirnment for the children. I believe that you need to interveiw and interview some more until you meet the provider that you feel you "click" with. I would not worry so much about the licensed or not part. You could even ask if you could hang out for a few hours and see how things are ran at the home. Good luck with your search, and try to find someone you feel comfortable and confident with.

Licensed home day cares and group home day cares are required to meet certain standards, providers and anyone over age 12 living in the home are required to have a background check, fingerprinting, and unannounced visits from DCFS. The standards are online: http://www.state.il.us/dcfs/daycare/index.shtml

There is also legal licence-exempt day care homes in Illinois where they have basically the same standards/requirements as a licensed provider, just fewer children are enrolled. You can find them through your local Child Care Resource and Referral Aganecy. More info on license-exempt care: http://www.childcareresearch.org/SendPdf?resourceId=7350

Some moms that I know do day care in their homes without a license or approval through DCFS or DHS because they either only want to do it for a short period of time or because their husband hunts (has firearm/s in the house), they do it in their basement and it doesn't meet the strict guidelines, etc.

Depending on what you want in a child care, that's who you should go with. Interview a variety of places and choose who you feel is best or where you think your child would most benefit from. :) Good luck!

Hello what area are you looking at?____@____.com

I am a sahm , and I watch 1- 2 kids. I am not liscenced but thats ok, with being liscenced you have DCFS involved with your everyday routine.
The have to approve the home, the space and the are called when a parent gets mad, and some times the parent calling is mad at the sitter and just wants to make problems. Either one is fine. None liscenced you might pay less

There are pros and cons for both.

It's funny, when I was looking for a daycare for my first daughter, I refused to look at unlicensed daycares (I don't know why). We went with Kindercare and the experience was okay. Fast forward a few years, I was that at-home mom that wanted to make some money. I watched my neighbor's 3 children for two years (had 3 of my own by that time). It was a lot of work, but so rewarding. The kids are still great friends.

Why not interview both types and go with your heart on where you feel it is best.

When my now 5 1/2 year old son was 3 months, I returned to work and put him in a home day care with a non-licensed provider. It was a great experience and we stayed with her for almost 3 years. What I liked about it was the small numbers. There was a long stretch of time in the beginning where it was just him and at most there were three kids. He got great care and learned a lot. Her reason for not being licensed was she stayed in control of her "business" rather than the state. Anyway, while I realize you should be licensed, in my mind, I equated her to an "out of home nanny" and since nannies aren't required to be licensed, it was OK that she wasn't. Not sure if my logic is correct, but it was a great experience for us.

I am a stay at home mom who babysits for extra money and I'm not licensed. I feel like I take less kids and have more time for them. I treat them like they are my own....I have the time to do that. I would say to check them both out, but don't rule out someone just because they aren't licensed. You could be missing out on the person who would love and treat your child the best.

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