United States Department of Agriculture Rural Information Center

Starting a Child Care Center



Image: Girl smiling with food

Image: Baby with arms up and the title, Learn the Signs. Act Early.


According to the U.S. Department of Labors, Career Guide to Industries, "Obtaining affordable, quality child day care, especially for children under age 5, is a major concern for many parents, particularly in recent years with the rise in families with two working parents. As the need for child day care has increased, the child day care services industry began to fill the need of non-relative child care."(Bureau of Labor Statistics1) Additionally from the Bureau of Labor Statistics we see just how large the child care profession is through the information in the Occupational Outlook Handbook which states, Child care workers held about 1.3 million jobs in 2008. About 33 percent of child care workers were self-employed; most of these were family child care providers. (Bureau of Labor Statistics2)

This Guide provides informational resources on for starting a rural child care center, childhood developmental resources, different types of child care programs, funding programs that have been used to assist child care centers, statistical resources, journals and organizations that provide information to child care providers and parents on topics of interest in this field.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition, Child Day Care Services, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs032.htm (visited September 12, 2011).

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Child Care Workers, on the Internet at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/pdf/ocos170.pdf (visited September 12, 2011).

This resource guide was orginally prepared by Patricia LaCaille John, September, 2005;
This resource guide was revised and updated by Mary Louise Reynnells, July, 2013.

The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication (or page) is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that maybe suitable. For more information about National Agricultural Library Policy and Disclaimers

Starting a Child Care Center

1.      Early Childhood Facilities. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, 2005. 28 p. http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/earlychildcenters.cfm

2.      Faith-based Child Care Resources and Organizations. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, Web Resource Listing. April, 2009. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/poptopics/faithbased-res.html

3.      Liability Insurance and the Child Care Center. Carol Volker. Ames: Iowa State University Extension, 1995. 10 p. http://www.nncc.org/Business/liabil.ins.ccc.html

4.      Perspectives on Rural Child Care. Betty A. Beach. ERIC Digest, ED403102, 1997. 4 p. http://www.ericdigests.org/1997-3/rural.html

5.      SBA's Online Business Courses. Washington, DC: Small Business Administration, Web-Based Resource. (Visited Sept. 12, 2011) http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/counseling-training/online-small-business-training/starting-business

6.      Starting A Business: Thinking About Starting. Washington, DC: Small Business Administration. Web-Based Resource. (Visited Sept. 12, 2011) http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/thinking-about-starting

7.      Starting a Child Care Business?; Government Tools and Resources that Can Help. MP-29. by Caron_Beesley, Moderator. Washington, DC: U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Matters, Community Blog Post. 05/25/2010. Web-Based Resource. (Visited Sept. 12, 2011) http://community.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/starting-child-care-business-government-tools-and-resources-can-help

8.      Starting and Operating a Child Care Business. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, (No. 223), MARCH 2011. 24p.http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/files/resources/business_resource_guide.pdf

Types of Child Care Programs

1.      Choosing Child Care: Child Care Options. Amy Fackler. Boise, ID: Healthwise, Inc., 2003. 3 p. http://www.pamf.org/health/healthinfo/index.cfm?section=healthinfo&page=article

2.      An Overview: The Different Types of Child Care. Washington State Child Care Resourcs and Referral Network. http://www.childcarenet.org/families/types-of-careOnlne Publication viewed in March 2010.

3.      Types of Child Care. Child Care Resources Handbook. Washington, DC: United States Office of Personnel Management. http://opm.gov/Employment_and_Benefits/WorkLife/OfficialDocuments/HandbooksGuides/ChildcareResources/cchb501.asp Online Publication, viewed in March of 2010

Child Care Partnerships and Cooperatives

1.      About Cooperatives: Childcare and Preschools. Washington, DC: National Cooperative Business Association. Web-Based resource. (Visited Sept. 13, 2011), http://www.ncba.coop/ncba/about-co-ops/co-op-sectors/43-child-care-and-preschool

2.      Child Care That Works: Child Care Cooperatives. Lesia Oesterreich. PM 1808. Ames: Iowa State University, University Extension, 1999. 2 p. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/pm1808.pdf

3.      A Guide to Successful Public-Private Partnerships for Child Care. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, n.d. 23 p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/library/index.cfm?do=oll.viewitem&itemid=17935

4.      Public-Private Partnerships in Child Care. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, 2004. 11 p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/poptopics/public-private.html

5.      Summary of Child Care Co-op Organizing Steps. Coontz, E. Kim. Davis, CA: California Center for Cooperative Development, 1p. Web-based resource. (Visited Sept. 13,2011) http://www.cccd.coop/files/starting%20a%20child%20care%20coop%20info%20sheet.pdf

Family Child Care Providers

1.      Liability Insurance and the Family Child Care Provider. Brenda Cude, Carol Volker. NCR 395. Ames: Iowa State University Extension, 1993. 12 p. http://www.nncc.org/Business/liabil.ins.fcc.html

2.      Rural Families Choose Home-Based Child Care. Smith, Kristin. Perspectives:On Poverty, Policy, & Place, Vol.4, No.1; 2007. Page 2. http://www.rupri.org/Forms/Perspectivesvol4n1.pdf#page=2

3.      Supporting Quality in Family Child Care. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, November, 2010. 7 p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/print/poptopics/quality_familychildcare.html

Employer Sponsored Child Care

1.      Employer-Support Child Care. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, 2005. 6 p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/poptopics/employersupportedcc.html

2.      Employer Toolkit Template. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, 2005. 63 p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/library/index.cfm?do=oll.viewitem&itemid=3777

3.      Kids at Work: The Value of Employer-Sponsored On-Site Child Care Centers. Connelly, Rachel, Deborah S. DeGraff, and Rachel A. Willis. Kalamazoo, MI: Bowdoin College W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2004. 175 p. http://www.upjohninst.org/publications/titles/kaw.html

Funding Sources

When starting a funding search you may want to review all possible options that could be used for child care programs including, federal, state, and private resources. Child Care providers may want to review the items in this guide to assist in developing a list of possible resources.


Child Care Facilities

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) The Rural Development, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov, (RHS) has a Community Facilities funding program available for non profits or local governments that can support child care facilities. http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/HCF_CF.html

Additionally, there are Business Programs that may also assist child care business programs, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Business.html To determine eligibility or to apply for any of the Rural Development programs, contact your state or local Rural Development Office, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has funding programs that support child care services. The Child Care Bureau, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ccb/ has several funding programs for child care facilities.

Details and contact information for the programs below are available in our Federal Funding Sources for Rural Areas Database. Please search in the database by name or number for more information. Also, check with your state contact listed below for more information.

·         Child Care and Development Block Grant(93.575)

·         Child Care Mandatory and Matching Funds of the Child Care and Development Fund (93.596)

o    State Child Care and Development Fund Contacts, http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/statedata/dirs/display.cfm?title=ccdf

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supports child care facilities near or within public housing, EZ/EC's, or low-income areas through facility construction using block grants, programs, and networks.  To determine eligibility or to apply for any of the programs listed below, contact your state HUD office. http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/states

·         Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs

·         Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions Assisting Communities (AN/NHIAC) program http://www.oup.org/programs/aboutANNHIAC.asp
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program http://www.oup.org/programs/aboutHBCU.asp
Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) Program http://www.oup.org/programs/aboutHSIAC.asp
Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) http://www.oup.org/programs/aboutTCUP.asp
These programs provide funding for community needs and services, including construction of local community facilities and providing child care and after-school services through these institutions.

·         Neighborhood Networks, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/mfh/nnw

o    State Center Locations

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides small businesses financing options, technical assistance, and child care resource information. Check you local SBA offices at http://www.sba.gov/localresources/index.html for more information and applications.

·         SBA's Loans, Grants, and Funding page, http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/loans-grants-funding provides details on all their financial programs.

·         SBA's Starting and Managing a Business, http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business, provides links to all the basics information on business startup, planning, financing and managing.
SBA Answer Desk: 800-827-5722 and email: answerdesk@sba.gov
SBA Disaster Loans: 800-659-2955 and email: disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

·         SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership provides Women with specific business assistance and training http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2895.

U.S. General Services Administration, Donation of Federal Surplus Personal Property Program (39.003) allows for the donation of surplus federal personal property (computers etc.) to state and local public agencies and qualifying nonprofits. Contact this program at: fedassetsales@gsa.gov

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section provides information to child care centers regarding compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This program has an ADA Information Line (1-800-514-0301) that provides answers to general and technical questions about ADA compliance.

Food Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has funding programs that support child care centers and family day care homes by providing assistance through the Food and Nutrition Service food programs.  To determine eligibility or to apply for the program listed below, contact your state agency that administers the Child Nutrition Programs, http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Contacts/StateDirectory.htm.

Child Care/Youth and After-School Programs

·         AfterSchool.gov, http://www.afterschool.gov "one-stop website connecting the public, and particularly afterschool providers, to federal resources that support children and youth during out-of-school time."

·         Childcare.gov, http://www.childcare.gov/ "A comprehensive online resource designed to link parents, child care providers, researchers, policymakers and the general public with Federal Government sponsored child care and early learning information and resources both quickly and easily." From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW
Washington, D.C. 20447

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Head Start, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs/ has programs that assist with nutrition, health, and education readiness for young children. To determine eligibility or to apply for any of the programs listed below, contact your regional office or the the National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/.

·         Early Head Start National Resource Center, http://www.ehsnrc.org/

o    Head Start Locator: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/HeadStartOffices

·         Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Quality Improvement Centers, http://www.mhsqic.org/

·         Financing Strategies For Early Care and Education, http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/poptopics/funding.html

U.S. Department of Education programs that assist with child care efforts:

·         The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (84.287) program offers an after-school environment that provides enrichment opportunities for children.

·         The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (84.335) program provides funding to support or establish child care programs serving low-income students enrolled in college.  Only institutions of higher education are eligible.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has funding programs available that assist with the crime prevention aspect that some after-school care programs address.  These programs are mainly set up for public entities, established youth programs and nonprofit organizations focusing on crime prevention in their communities. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/programs/juvjustice.htm

Additional After-School Program Resources:

·         Out-of-School Time Project Overview. Washington, DC: The Finance Project.

Native American Programs

·         Family and Child Education (FACE), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)
"FACE was initiated in 1990, and currently has programs in 44 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) funded schools. It was designed as a family literacy program; an integrated model for an early childhood/parental involvement program for American Indian families in BIE-funded schools."

·         Indian Head Start Program, Indian Health Service, DHHS http://www.ihs.gov/NonMedicalPrograms/HeadStart/index.cfm

·         Native American Employment and Training Program (17.265), ETA, DOL
Employment and Training Administation Division of Indian and Native American Programs (DINAP) http://www.doleta.gov/dinap/

·         Tribal Child Care Assistance Center(TriTAC), Child Care Bureau, DHHS http://nccic.org/tribal/

·         Tribal Child Care Facilities: A Guide to Construction and Renovation, Child Care Bureau, DHHS http://www.nccic.org/tribal/construction/.

Additional Resources

·         Financing and Sustaining Out-of-School Time Programs in Rural Communities. Kate Sandel and Soumya Bhat. Washington, DC:The Finance Project, January 2008. 36p. http://www.financeproject.org/publications/OSTRuralYouth.pdf

·         National Network for Child Care. Supported by Cooperation Extension System. http://www.nncc.org

·         Resources for Child Care Providers by Child Care Bureau. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ccb/providers/index.htm


Consult the child care resources and referral agency in your area for information on available state funding and/or technical assistance programs, licensing and regulations.

·         Child Care Information by State: Licensing, Statistical Data, and Program Contacts. Ames, IA: National Network for Child Care. http://www.nncc.org/states/stateindex.html

·         State Child Care Profiles. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/statedata/statepro/index.html


Most private funding is available to organizations and government entities

·         Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD. http://www.aecf.org/AboutUs/GrantInformation.aspx

·         Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Flint, MI. http://www.mott.org/grantseeker.aspx

·         The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, CA. http://www.packard.org/what-we-fund/children-families-and-communities/

·         Foundations Supporting Early Childhood Care and Education, Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, 2005, updated March 2011. 5p.p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/poptopics/foundations.html

Technical Assistance

·         Local Initiatives Support Collaboration (LISC), New York, NY. http://www.lisc.org/

o    LISC's Community Investment Collaboration for Kids (CICK), http://www.lisc.org/section/ourwork/national/cick

·         Rural LISC Partnership, Washington, DC. http://www.ruralisc.org/partners/partners.htm

Funding Guides

·         "Child Care Financing," Child Care Bulletin. 10 (July/Aug 1996) 17 p. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/ccb/issue10.html

·         "Financial Resources for Child Care." April Kaplan. Welfare Information Network Issue Notes. 2, No. 6 (1998): 10 p. http://www.financeproject.org/Publications/issuechild.htm

·         Finding Resources To Support Rural Out-of-School Initiatives, Elisabeth Wright. Strategy Brief. Washington, DC: The Finance Project, Vol. 4, No. 1, February 2003. 20p. http://www.financeproject.org/Publications/ruralost.pdf

·         Financing the Early Care and Education System. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, 2005. http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/poptopics/funding.html

Milestones for Childhood Development

1.      Developmental Milestones.

This Web site includes seven Milestone resources for children ages 3 months to 5 years. Parents and providers can obtain free information on these milestones through the Learn the Signs. Act Early. Public Outreach Campaign. The Rural Information Center is a partner in this campaign.

  1. Child Development Resources For Parents And Providers.
    NCCIC Resource Guide. Fairfax, VA: National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center, July 2009. 22p.

Child Care Statistics/Data

1.      Child Daycare Services. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs032.htm

2.      Child Research Data and publications. Washington, DC: Children Defense Fund. http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/

3.      ChildStats.gov, Washington, DC. http://www.childstats.gov/

4.      Kids Count Initiative. Baltimore, MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation. http://www.aecf.org/MajorInitiatives/KIDSCOUNT.aspx


Child Care Bulletin
National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center

The Future of Children
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation


Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Email: cdfinfo@childrensdefense.org

National Association for Family Child Care
5202 Pinemont Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84123
Email: nafcc@nafcc.org

National Center for Rural Early Childhood Learning Initiatives
46 Blackjack Road
P.O. Box 6013
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Fax: 662-325-5436

Office of Child Care, Child Care Technical Assistance Network
Office of Child Care (OCC)
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W. 5th Floor East
Washington, DC 20447
Email: Use the form on their site http://childcare.gov/contact

USDA, Rural Information Center
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Ave., Room 123
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351