Congratulations!  If you want to start a family child care home in Georgia, this is a good place to look for information.  We do not have all the answers, but we will help you find them. 

The Professional Family Child Care Alliance of Georgia (PFCCAG), through our Explore-FCC* project, welcomes anyone who is considering family child care as a career.  This site offers help to individuals who are in the early stage of exploring family child care, individuals applying for a license to open a Family Child Care Learning Home (FCCLH), and newly licensed providers.  Explore-FCC intends to help you step by step until your FCC home is financially stable, high quality, and part of an ongoing community support process.  

A FCCLH home is a great way to support working families and earn income at the same time.  If you intend to care for between 3 and 6 children for pay, you must be licensed by Bright from The Start: Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).  If you care for 2 or fewer children for pay, you do not need a license. 

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Where Do I Begin?

Some providers just begin informally.  That is, a family, friend, or neighbor asks them to care for a child and they agree to do so.  Suddenly you have to decide how much to charge, how many hours are you willing to care for the child, do you need a crib or some other piece of equipment, where will the child nap, and so on.  Others begin knowing there are licensing requirements addressing health and safety standards, the number of children they can care for, and other child caring standards.  They do not want to begin until they understand and can meet licensing requirements.  

This Explore-FCC “How to Start” webpage begins with information for individuals still in the exploration stage, that is, before you decide to apply for a license or take other steps to open such as buying toys and equipment.  

But even if you have applied for a license, set aside an area of you home for your family child care business, designed your marketing flyer or taken other steps to open, we believe you will find useful information here.  The bulletins and other articles are built on the advice and experience of current PFCCAG provider members as well as from family child care advocates in Georgia and around the country.  

What is on this page?

Practical Help Bulletins.  There is a series of “Family Child Care Learning Home Practical Help” bulletins designed to take a one topic at a time approach to exploring opening a home.  We start with a few bulletins but will add several more throughout 2021 so check back from time to time. Some bulletins discuss the DECAL licensing law, regulations, and the licensing process.  


Please Note: This page does not render legal or other professional advice concerning the child care licensing law or process.  In you need this advice, please contact DECAL.

Family Child Care Learning Home Practical Help Bulletins include:

Family Child Care Marathon Project- Addressing Local Barriers to Licensing 

DECAL requires you show proof you meet several requirements for businesses of the local government (city or county) where you live.  Three (3) requirements, zoning permit, business permit, fire department inspections are common to all applicants.  The DECAL publication, Applicant’s Guide to Licensing for Family Child Care Learning Homes (Revised July 2020), describes the three as follows: 

  • Contact the local Fire Marshall to determine if there are local ordinances that apply to operating a Family Child Care Learning Home in your area. 

  • Submit with the application a letter from the local zoning department indicating your residence is zoned for a Family Child Care, or a letter stating there are no zoning regulations. 

  • Submit with the application a valid business license with the facility address or a letter stating a business license is not required/or will be issued upon completion of the Bright from the Start licensing process.

Sometimes local requirements serve as barriers to opening your FCCLH home.  Since, 2017 PFCCAG has addressed local barriers through an effort called the FCC Marathon Project.  

The goal of the FCC Marathon Project is to increase the supply of high quality affordable family child care in Georgia.  It does so by addressing local government policies (zoning, business permit, Fire Marshall) and property owner (landlord, homeowner association) requirements creating cost, time, and regulatory roadblocks.  The motto of the project is: “It should not be a marathon uphill all the way.”  The FCC Marathon Project is a standing committee of PFCCAG with participation from community partner organizations including CDF Action, 9to5 National Association of Working Women-Georgia, Quality Care for Children (QCC) and United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Since it started the project completed research on the zoning law in 20 cities or counties in the state primarily because a potential family child care provider living in that area asked for our help in understanding or complying with the zoning law.  But there are 525 cities and 159 counties in GA, so our work is far from finished.

Publications of the project include a series of “narrative explanations” for a specific city or county.  Each narrative is based on the zoning law in that specific city or county. 

A visual representation of how three different departments of Cobb County government coordinate during an application for zoning approval, business permit, and Fire Marshall approval.  This may not be the way another city or county may do it but it offers insight on the process.

A general guide to zoning for a family child care advocate describing how to research a zoning law for a specific city or county and description of key information to seek out including: Definitions, Districts (also called zones), Permitted-Prohibited Policies, Conditional Requirements, and Approval process.


Useful Links

Tom Copeland's Taking Care of Business. Tom Copeland is widely regarded as the nation's leading expert on the business of family child care. He has a law degree and has been advising family child care business owners since 1981. He has presented hundreds of training sessions over the years and is the author of nine books on family child care. His website contains a wealth of information and resources for both new and experienced family child care business owners. 

QCC Works. Quality Care for Children (QCC) has created an extensive list of their programs, tools and resources for aspiring and existing family child care businesses. 

DECALThe Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is the place all new aspiring family child care business owners need to have on their to-do list. It includes the registration link for the mandatory FCCLH licensing orientation you must attend before submitting an application for license. It also includes links to the various documents you will need to complete and file as part of your new business start-up. 

NAFCC. The National Association for Family Child Care is the nation's largest membership association devoted to family child care businesses. Since the 1980s, the organization has been working to advocate for family child care. They also provide the nation's most recognized accreditation for family child care businesses.  


We Welcome Your Comments or Questions!!

If you find a statement which is incorrect or do not understand or if you have a question about opening a FCCLH home, please send an e-mail to: