Running a Daycare or Preschool in BC

The first thing to decide when setting up a child care business is whether to operate as a licenced or unlicenced facility.

In B.C., child care providers must have a licenced facility if they look after more than two children or a sibling group who are not related to them. Licensed child care programs provide parents with peace of mind because they meet provincial government requirements for:

  • Health and safety
  • Licence application
  • Staffing qualifications
  • Staff-to-child ratios
  • Space and equipment
  • Program standards

Unlicensed (or licence-not-required) child care providers may decide to voluntarily register their program or not.

How to Set Up a Child Care Business

Apply for a facility licence: Each Health Authority Community Care Facility Licensing program reviews applications to make sure that they meet the basic health, safety and care requirements for licensed child day care facilities outlined in the Child Care Licensing Regulation. There is no cost to apply or receive a licence.

Applications to open a child day care must include:

  • A detailed description of the program to be offered
  • The proposed number of employees, their qualifications and duties
  • Building, site and floor plans
  • Projected monthly budget
  • References and criminal record checks

The application process also includes a site inspection, personal assessment (to make sure you'll be a good care provider), and a review of your program's policies and procedures.

Check with local government: Contact the municipality your business will be located in to ask about a business licence, zoning bylaws and fire inspections.

Get more info: Also check with the library or other child care providers for information about starting a child care facility or other topics related to running a business successfully. Keep in mind that laws and regulations change over time and apply differently to different types of child care facilities.

Business Information

Here are a few other resources to help with planning:


Follow the Rules

Licenced child care facilities must follow the rules outlined in the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Child Care Licensing Regulation and Standards of Practice.

Licensing officers from the local health authority monitor each child care facility to make sure the needs of the children in care and requirements are being met. This will include ongoing discussions, inspections and response to complains (if necessary).

Work closely with your licensing officer to make sure you understand what is expected. They're available to discuss issues, make site visits and provide education.

Get more info by connecting with your local Child Care Resource and Referral Centre and reviewing these resources: