Legal Requirements to Open a Daycare Drop-In Center

Updated February 06, 2018

Sometimes parents only need childcare for a few hours, to go to an appointment or run an errand or maybe just get a few precious minutes of "alone time," and there aren't any available babysitters. In these cases, drop-in day care can be a good solution. Drop-in day care is a day care centre that allows parents to drop their children off on an as-needed basis for a short period of time. The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Childcare defines a drop-in day care facility as one that cares for any child for fewer than 30 days a year on an intermittent basis. If you are considering opening a drop-in day care, there are some legal issues that you need to keep in mind, as drop-in day care centres are held to the same standards as any other day care centre.


Drop-in day care centres are subject to the same licensing requirements as traditional day care. Each state has its own license requirements and processes. You can find a listing of requirements by state in Resources. In general, most states require day care centre operators to meet specific age and training requirements, and meet specific requirements for maintaining the facility.


If you operate a drop-in day care centre, you need to carry liability and property insurance. In some cases, if you are running your drop-in day care from your home, your business can be covered under your homeowner's policy.


Because drop-in day care providers may not be as familiar with the children and families using the service as a traditional day care centre might be, some states have specific requirements regarding identification to protect children. Children may be required to wear nametags or have another way that providers can identify them. Most states require a drop-in day care to develop and follow a clear policy regarding who may pick up a child, and to require identification from all adults picking up children from the centre.

CPR and First Aid

Typically childcare providers are required by state law to have training in paediatric CPR and first aid. Also, some states prohibit drop-in day care providers from giving children any kind of medication.

Building Requirements

Most states have laws regarding the minimum amount of space required for a day care centre. If you are renting a commercial space, the number of children you can have at your drop-in day care is determined by the occupancy limits of the building as well as your staffing ratio. State laws regulating childcare also specify safety requirements for childcare centres, such as the number of exits that must be available, the use of childproofing equipment and the maintenance of outdoor areas.

Other Legal Requirements

Drop-in day care centres must meet the same requirements as traditional centres in terms of inspections, discipline policies, and nutrition and food regulations. Drop-in day care providers are also mandated to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect, as required by state law.

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About the Author

An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.