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Opening a Child Care

  /  Opening a Child Care

Becoming a Child Care Provider in Indiana

In Indiana, you can provide quality care through a number of different avenues. There are three types of care settings: Licensed Child Care Home, Licensed Child Care Center, and Unlicensed Registered Ministry. Each type of care setting has its own requirements for you along with differing rules and regulations for the program. Get started by reviewing the types of care in Indiana to begin to decide what is right for you.

Our Orientation I course will also introduce you to those different types of care and will help you determine if you’re ready for the responsibilities of running a child care. The course provides the information you need to get on the right path for you and the children you plan to serve. This includes:

Health and safety information

The basics of building a child care business

Resources to help you make the decision of which type of care you would like to provide

Orientation I: Training for Child Care Providers can be accessed on Indiana Learning Paths located within your ILEAD account. Click the button above to connect to or create your ILEAD account.

*Completion of Orientation I is required for those planning to open a licensed home or center in Indiana.

It is strongly encouraged, although not required, for those opening an unlicensed registered ministry.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where do I start?

Step one: Go to the FSSA Provider Portal at https://secure.in.gov/apps/fssa/childcare/portal/. Click the Login button. Click Sign-Up Now to create your ILEAD account.

  • Once you are logged in to ILEAD, click Start Your Indiana Learning Paths. (There are many great trainings you can do and learn from. And they are free!)
  • Here are the following trainings you need to complete on Indiana Learning Paths:
    • Orientation I: Training for Child Care Providers
    • Child Abuse and Neglect Detection and Prevention
    • Indiana’s Health and Safety Orientation Module 1, Module 2, Module 3 and Module 4 (take all four trainings)
    • Safe Sleep Practices: Reducing Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Module 1
    • Safe Sleep Practices: Implementation in Child Care Settings Module 2
  • The next training you will need to do is Orientation II – Preparation for Child Care Licensure. You can complete the online training session on your Indiana Learning Paths portal. (Be sure to take the session that matches the type of care you are interested in)

During the Orientation II class you will receive all the paperwork, application and learn the requirements to become a licensed child care. You may start to learn more about requirements online at http://www.in.gov/fssa/. Click on the Early Learning/Child Care tab to find resources.

Where do I find the forms I need for my application?

Forms need to submit for your child care licensing application can be found here. Information on who to contact for your business permit can be found here.

How do I know what to charge? How do I create a budget?
  • Child Care Aware of America offers a great business plan template with detailed descriptions of required information, as well as formatting suggestions. Child Care Aware of America provides the following sections to include as you create your business plan:
    • Executive summary – a short overview of the child care business as a whole and your unique mission statement
    • Company overview – an explanation of the business structure, services provided and future goals and needs
    • Service description – program goals; a detailed description of the program site and benefits, capacity, services and hours offered; needed equipment and furnishings; planned site layout and facility management plan
    • Market and industry analysis – local family demographics and child care supply and demand metrics
    • Marketing plan – what makes your program unique, marketing goals and potential strategies to reach clients • Operations plan – management team, organizational chart, staff training and board oversight if needed
    • Financial analysis – budget needed to get started, annual operating budget and financial projections
    • Evaluation – benchmarks and key performance indicators for success
    • Supporting documents – documentation of any of the above


  • The Indiana Small Business Development Center (Indiana SBDC) was created to have a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth, and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana, and to help Hoosier Entrepreneurs start stronger, grow faster, and work smarter. The Indiana SBDC can assist in answering questions around your new business. Reach out to your regional office for support around your business planning.


  • SPARK Learning Lab offers the Fundamentals to Business Sustainability Collection Explore strategies to monitor the financial health of an early education and care business. Utilize tips shared in this seven-course collection to grow and transform your business. Create realistic financial goals and learn strategies to reach business goals by determining a budget, the true cost to operate, and cost-benefit analysis. Each strategy ensures you are able to fund your expenses, make informed financial decisions, and plan for future growth. Access this training series on Indiana Learning Paths through your ILEAD account.


  • Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning:  Understanding current CCDF Market Rates can help you to understand the amount of assistance families in your area are able to receive. Information on CCDF reimbursement rates is available here.   
Is there a need for care in my area?

The need for care in areas vary. Often we see areas of high need for care in comparison to the number of children in the area. Even in areas of with an adequate supply of care, there may be a need for non-traditional hours, weekend care, or care of specific age groups. Taking time to understand the need for care in your area, can help you to design your business to meet the needs of your community. Understanding the need can assist in building a sustainable business for you. Visit the Bright Futures Indiana data dashboard view information around needs in your area or reach out to our Program Engagement Specialist, Trisha at tguinn@casyonline.org to discuss the need in your area. 

How can I network and reach others that are working on licensing?

CASY offers Emerging Provider Cohort and Networking opportunities for those working to become licensed child care providers. This offers the opportunity for support and guidance from not only your Child Care Resource and Referral, but from those working on the same goal as you. Becoming involved in a cohort can provide the opportunity to connect with others and create professional relationships you can continue long after your business is up and running. We provide information based on your needs as they arise, connect you to the resources you need, and help you to create long lasting professional relationships. Cohorts meeting frequency is also based on the needs of our group. Get involved in the next cohort opportunity by contacting our Program Engagement Specialist, Trisha, at tguinn@casyonline.org or 812-231-8919

What are the educational requirements for opening a child care?

Each type of care has different educational requirements to open. Review each types of care and their requirements here.

I am opening a childcare home and will need a CDA. Where do I start?
  • Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™. The CDA® is a nationally recognized credential awarded to individuals who complete specified training, pass an exam and complete an assessment. The CDA® prepares those seeking opportunities to work in early childhood education to meet children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth. The Child Development Associate Credential™ is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and is a key step in early childhood education’s professional development. Learn more about the CDA Credential here.


  • Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children also offers support in the obtainment of a CDA through their non-formal CDA programming. For this opportunity or to be connected to other CDA opportunities click here.


  • Support in paying for your CDA may be available. In 1990, Child Care Services Association created the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Early Childhood® Scholarship Program to address the issues of under-education, poor compensation and high turnover within the early childhood workforce. The first T.E.A.C.H. Program was launched in North Carolina and has since spread to more than twenty states. In 1996, Indiana awarded our first program scholarship. T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® INDIANA, is a unique scholarship program that links education, compensation, and commitment to improve the quality of early care and educational experiences for young children and their families. Learn more about this program here.
What is the CACFP Food Program and how do I connect with a sponsor?

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is designed to help children enrolled in child care facilities receive the nutritious meals their growing bodies need, while keeping costs down for the child care provider or facility. The program does this by reimbursing the child care provider or facility based on the number of meals served to enrolled children and providing ongoing nutrition education to child care providers. This in turn aids the parents, because not only are they assured their children are receiving nutritious meals and snacks, but their child care costs are kept down as well. Learn more about CACFP, available sponsors, or see reimbursement rates click here.

What is Paths to QUALITY? How does it benefit my program?

In order to improve the quality of child care programs, states across the nation are using Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, such as the one here in Indiana, Paths to QUALITY™. Quality Rating and Improvement Systems assess the quality of care within a program, work to improve that quality level, and give families an easy to recognize symbol that makes the difficult decision of choosing child care easier. These systems also provide an accountability measure for funding and create an alignment between licensing, subsidy and quality across child care, Head Start and the Department of Education’s early learning guidelines. Paths to QUALITY™ gives families an easy to recognize tool for selecting a child care program. Families can look for the Paths to QUALITY™ logo to determine what level their provider has achieved. Each level builds on the foundation of the previous one, resulting in significant quality improvements at each stage and in national accreditation at the highest level. The system validates child care programs for ongoing efforts to achieve higher standards of quality and provides incentives and awards for success. The four levels address:

  • Level One: Health and safety needs of children met
  • Level Two: Environment supports children’s learning
  • Level Three: Planned curriculum guides child development and school readiness
  • Level Four: National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved

For more information on Paths to QUALITY™, please visit https://brighterfuturesindiana.org/.

How can I get support in recruiting and retaining staff?

Indiana Association for the Education of Young Child has Workforce Development Coordinators who are able to assist programs in assessing their recruitment and retention plans. They work to support programs not only in developing recruitment and retention plans but in assisting programs creating a strong, quality, educated workforce. To learn more or connect with the Workforce Development Coordinator in your area email workforce@inaeyc.org 

Still searching for answers? Contact our Program Engagement Specialist, Trisha, at 812-231-8919 or tguinn@casyonline.org

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