Provider Resources

Getting Licensed as a Child Development Facility in the District of Columbia

Providing early care and education for the District’s youngest learners in quality, healthy and safe environments is very important. No person shall either directly or indirectly operate a child development facility without first obtaining a license issued by OSSE. Below is information on how you begin the process to become a licensed child development facility.

  • Determine the kind of child development program you want to offer. This is important because the process is based on the type of program.
  • Attend an in-person orientation or view the orientation and complete the quiz with a score of 80 percent or higher. You can find the online orientation on the OSSE website. If you require additional assistance please do not hesitate to contact OSSE directly at (202) 727-1839.

Licensing Resources

As you move through the licensing process, you will need to obtain permits and inspections from other District agencies. Below is a list of agencies and the documents you will need to obtain prior to submitting a licensing application packet to OSSE.

Document Agency

Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupancy Permit

Should include the following information: name of child development facility, the maximum number of infants and children to be cared for, hours of operation and number of staff.

District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Building and Land Regulation Administration, Zoning Division

1100 Fourth St. SW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20024

(202) 442-4400

Visit DCRA’s website for more information

Fire Safety Inspection Certification

Certifies that the facility to be licensed meets fire safety requirements.

District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services

2000 14th St. NW, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20009

(202) 673-3320

Visit FEMS’s website for more information

Lead-based Paint Certification or Clearance Report

Certifies that the facility has a safe level of lead-based paint. Must be completed not more than 30 days prior to the application date.

District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment

1200 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002

(202) 535-2600

Visit DOEE’s website for more information

Certificate of Clean Hands

Certifies that the applicant does not owe more than $100 to the District government in taxes. Must be completed not more than 30 days prior to the application date.

District of Columbia Department of Tax and Revenue

1101 Fourth St., SW, Suite 270 West
Washington, DC 20024

(202) 727-4829

Apply online or visit OTR’s website for more information

Exemptions to Licensure

The following early care and education services shall be exempt from obtaining a license to operate a facility:

  • Occasional babysitting in a babysitter’s home or a child’s home for the children of one family;
  • Care provided in a child’s home by a caregiver paid for by a child’s family;
  • Care provided for more than one child in a nanny share;
  • Informal or occasional parent-supervised play groups;
  • Adult gyms or clubs that provide temporary babysitting as a benefit in order for members to use services;
  • Adult education programs that provide child care services while parents are on the same campus as the child attending a class or education program for a temporary period of time;
  • Child-centered businesses that solely provide sessions, classes or activities including, but not limited to, tutoring, music, dance, sport, or art, while parents or guardians remain on the business’ premises;
  • Care provided in places of worship during religious services;
  • Care provided by a related person;
  • Facilities operated by the Federal Government on Federal Government property, except that a private entity utilizing space in or on Federal government property is not exempt unless Federal law specifically exempts the Facility from the District of Columbia’s regulatory authority;
  • A District of Columbia public school or public charter school providing education services to children in pre-K-3 through grade 12 during a full school day;
  • A private school providing education services to children in pre-K- through grade 12 during a full school day;
  • A community-based organization providing only pre-K education services to pre-K age children pursuant to the Pre-K Act and funded by OSSE; and
  • Facilities that provide only before school care, only after school care or only summer camp to school age children.

Criminal Background Check Process for DC Residents Working in Child Development Facilities Outside of the District

Employees and volunteers working in licensed child care facilities in the District of Columbia must follow the background check process as outlined and posted on the OSSE website. Residents of the District of Columbia who work in child development facilities outside of the District, such as in Maryland or Virginia, must follow a slightly different process.

Early learning professionals who are District residents working at child development facilities outside of the District must obtain a District of Columbia criminal background check and sex offender registry (SOR) through the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department .

This record will contain a listing only of adult convictions for which the sentence was completed not more than 10 years before the date on which the records were requested and forfeitures of collateral in a court proceeding that have occurred not more than 10 years before the date on which the record was requested.

Individuals can make a background check in person or via mail.

  • Making a Background Check Request in Person
  • To obtain requests for records in person, you must make an appointment. Click here to make an appointment .
  • To make a request, you will need one of the following:
    • Driver’s License
    • Non-Driver ID
    • Original Birth Certificate AND Social Security Card
  • There is a $7 fee (cash or money orders only, payable to DC Treasurer; no credit cards or personal checks) to obtain these records.
  • On the day of your appointment, report to:
    • Henry J. Daly Building
    • 300 Indiana Avenue NW
    • Room 1075
    • Washington, DC 20001

  • Making a Background Check Request Via Mail
  • To obtain a background check via mail:
  • Write a notarized letter requesting a background check to:
    • Metropolitan Police Department
    • Criminal History Section
    • 300 Indiana Avenue NW, Room 1075
    • Washington, DC 20001
  • The letter must include the following information:
    • Full Name
    • Date of Birth
    • Social Security Number
    • Self-addressed Stamped Envelope
    • $7 Money Order payable to the DC Treasurer (Checks Not Accepted)
  • The letter must be notarized by a Notary Public prior to mailing. Please allow six weeks for processing from the date the request is made. For more information or additional assistance, contact (202) 727-4245.

Child Abuse and Neglect Check Process for Employees and Volunteers of Child Development Facilities in the District or Any Other State

Federal law states that anyone working in a child care program as an employee or volunteer, who cares for or supervises children or with unsupervised access to children is required to undergo a background check which includes a criminal check and a child abuse and neglect check.

The child abuse and neglect check process for employees and volunteers of child development facilities in the District is as follow:

  • Employees and volunteers working in licensed child development facilities in the District of Columbia must request a child abuse and neglect check for the District of Columbia, the state where they currently reside and every state where they have resided over the past 5 years.
  • In the District of Columbia, the process for child protection register (CPR) check requests is fully electronic. There is no fee required. Applications and current government-issued photo IDs, that include the applicant’s date of birth, must be submitted online by using the DC Human Resources (DCHR) CPR Form:
  • Click here to request a Maryland Child Protective Services Background/Adam Walsh Background Clearance Request.
  • Click here to request a Virginia Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry clearance.

An applicant may appeal their CPR results. To appeal, the applicant must follow the appeal process for the jurisdiction in which they are listed on the registry. The applicant’s suitability determination case will be closed and the original decision will remain final unless the applicant receives a new CPR result. To request a fair hearing to appeal a CPR result in the District of Columbia, contact Tamara Rutland, Fair Hearings Coordinator, between 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at (202) 724-3748, (202) 213-9590 or [email protected].

For questions, call (202) 727-8885 or email [email protected]. Calls and emails will be monitored and responded to within 24 hours or the next business day.

For the complete licensing process and forms, please click here to visit OSSE’s website.

© 2024 DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
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