When do I need a Large Group and School-Age Child Care license?
You need a Large Group and School Age Child Care License if you would like to care for 11 or more unrelated children on a regular basis in a center or building. Many different types of early education and care programs are licensed within this category, such as those commonly known as; early education and care centers, child care centers, day care centers, nursery schools, preschools, child development programs, school age child care programs and before and after school programs.
What if I am exempt from licensing?
In Massachusetts, a license is required to provide most child care services. In some circumstances, the caring arrangement may be exempt from licensure and may not require a license. If you believe your child care program is exempt from licensure, the Licensing Exemption Request Application must be completed and submitted to your Regional Office for approval. You are not exempt from licensing unless approval has been granted from EEC.
Licensing Requirements for Large Group and School Age Child Care
As of January 2010, regulations include the following requirements:
- Evidence of a well balanced curriculum of specific, planned learning experiences that support the social, emotional, physical, intellectual and language development of all children.
- Evidence of a plan describing how program activities support and engage children through specific learning experiences. The plan must be appropriate to the ages and development of the children served, to the length of the program day and to the program objectives.
- Educators must be responsive to children's individual needs and support the development of self-esteem, self-expression, autonomy, social competence and school readiness.
- The program must support and encourage a partnership with and the involvement of parents in the early education and care of their children.
- All staff must have a criminal background check, (CORI, Criminal Offender Record Information), as well as a background check through the MA Department of Children and Families, (DCF), to determine if they have been identified by DCF in a supported 51B report as the person responsible for the abuse or neglect of a child.
- The program must submit a statement of ownership of the program, including financial documentation and evidence of financial capability, tax certification, and plan for business management.
- The program must be safe, clean, comfortable, of adequate size, free from hazards, and has passed all local building, health, and lead paint inspections as applicable.
- Evidence that all staff are qualified for their positions and that staff are appropriately supervised.
- Evidence that EEC required staff to child ratios are always maintained.
- Evidence that staff appropriately supervises all children to ensure their health, safety, education, growth and development.
- Educators must provide guidance to children in a positive and consistent way based on an understanding of the individual needs and development of children.
- Educators must direct child guidance to the goal of maximizing the growth and development of children and protecting the group and the individuals within it.
- The ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of children, including personal hygiene, emergency preparedness, toileting, diapering, sleep/rest time, and feeding.
- A Health Care Policy that addresses emergency and preventive health measures for children, as well as identifies the program's Health Care Consultant.
- Written records about children that include attendance, medical information, progress while in care, referral information, and all required parental consents and contact information.
How do I Apply for a License for Large Group and School Age Child Care?
When calling your EEC Regional Office, let the front desk know you are interested in becoming a large group and school age child care provider. You will be invited to attend a Potential Provider Meeting. These meetings are scheduled on a regular basis at your EEC Regional Office and led by a Large Group and School Age Child Care Licensor who will give you all the information you will need to become a licensed provider. At this meeting, you will also receive the application materials and be informed which licensor has been assigned to assist you in the application and licensing process.
It is important to review your individual plans with your licensor to obtain technical assistance with the licensing process.
While waiting for the Potential Provider meeting, there are several things you can do to begin the process of becoming a licensed provider:
- Contact your local Building Inspector to schedule a building safety inspection.
- If your proposed building was constructed prior to 1978, contact a registered/licensed lead paint inspector for lead paint testing.
- Submit your qualifications and those of any staff you have identified to the EEC Professional Qualifications Unit for review.
Once you have returned your completed application with the appropriate application fee, your assigned licensor will contact you to review your application and to schedule a visit to your program.