The City of Philadelphia regulates childcare facilities for zoning, building, health, and fire code compliance. If you are planning to care for children not related to you outside of their home, you will need to know what type of child care/use group you intend to apply for in order to fill out the various forms.
Child Care facilities in the City of Philadelphia are divided into two types: Family Child Care and Commercial Child Care.
The Department of Licenses and Inspections is authorized to license and inspect Family Child Care facilities only. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health inspects both Family and Commercial Child Care facilities. Additionally, Commercial Child Care facilities are under the jurisdiction of the State of PA’s Department of Public Welfare Office of Child Development and Early Learning (215-560-2807)
For purposes of Child Day Care licenses, “RELATED TO YOU” means the provider’s child, step-child, grandchild, or foster child only. Please note: You are providing “childcare” if you care for any child between the ages of 0-15 years old, who is not your child, step-child, grandchild or foster child, for any period of time (including the after school hours).
Family Child Care
In order to obtain a license to operate a Family Child Care the location must:
- Be a one or two family dwelling
- Be the provider’s primary residence
- Not exceed the number of children approved by the zoning permit with a maximum of 12
NOTE: A Family Child Care with a maximum of five children may also be located in an area zoned for commercial use.
Providers are required to submit the following documentation to the License Issuance Unit along with the $50 annual license fee and a completed Family Child Care License application:
- City of Philadelphia Business Tax Number and Commercial Activity License (formerly the Business Privilege License)
- Zoning approval for the Use from the Zoning Unit. This verifies that a Family Childcare Business is permitted in the proposed location as well as verifies the number of children the business will serve. In residential areas where Family Child Care businesses are permitted, a maximum of 12 children are allowed, except in two areas:
- Family Daycare Area 1 (same boundary as City Council District 6) and Family Daycare Area 2 (same boundary as City Council District 10) the maximum number of children permitted in Family Child Care business is limited to four.
- To verify which Council District your location is within, enter your address in the City's maps database or contact the Zoning Unit at (215) 686-2455.
- A License Eligibility Report (LER) issued by the Department of Public Health, Office of Food Protection. Before issuing an LER, the Office of Food Protection must approve your plans, verify the completion of a food safety certification course, and conduct a site inspection. Contact the Office of Food Protection at (215) 685-7495 for more information or visit the Department of Public Health, Office Food Protection website.
- Child Care License Application.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also has its own licensing requirements for Family Child Care Facilities. See below for contact information.
Fire Safety for Family Child Care Facilities
Once the application is received and processed, providers may call or email the local district office to arrange for a site fire inspection. All Family Child Care Facilities require an annual fire safety inspection from the City of Philadelphia. These inspections are assigned based on the location of the child care facility. Please contact the District Office for your facility to schedule your annual fire safety inspection as shown on this District Map. You may also call 3-1-1 for this information. An inspector will visit the property to determine if it meets the minimum safety requirements.
Fire Safety Requirements and Information
Providers that pass the inspection may pick up the license and a copy of the Fire Safety Certification at the local district office within three business days or may request a copy through the mail.
Those that fail the initial site inspection will be issued an order to correct and will have 35 days to comply. Once the corrections are complete contact the district office to reschedule the inspection and obtain the license. The license expires in April and must be renewed yearly before the required inspection can be conducted.
Commercial Child Care
A Commercial Child Care is any facility that provides care for children not related to the childcare provider and not located in the provider’s primary residence. This includes ALL before and after school programs!
Although the Department of Licenses and Inspections does not conduct license inspections for Commercial Child Care facilities, Commercial Child Care facilities require a License Eligibility Report (LER) issued by the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Office of Food Protection. Before issuing an LER, the Office of Food Protection must approve your plans, verify the completion of a food safety certification course, and conduct a site inspection. The LER is then taken to the Office of Licenses and Inspections along with a completed application for a Food License. Contact the Office of Food Protection at (215) 685-7495 for more information or visit the Department of Public Health, Office Food Protection website.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also has its own licensing requirements for Commercial Child Care facilities. See below for contact information.
Fire Safety for Child Care Facilities
Commercial Child Care Facilities are inspected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. See below for contact information.
Department of Licenses and Inspections
License Issuance Unit & Zoning Unit
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 311 or (215) 686-8686
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am - 12:00 Noon
Department of Public Health, Office of Food Protection
321 University Avenue, 2nd floor
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: 311 or (215) 685-7495
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am - 4 pm
The Department of Public Health, Office of Food Protection is also available at the lower concourse level of the Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Boulevard on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 10 am – 2:30 pm.. Stop by the License and Inspections ticket counter and ask for the Office of Food Protection.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses three different definitions for Child Care Facilities:
Child Care Center: A child care facility in which seven or more children who are not related to the operator receive child care. A child care center must have a certificate of compliance ("license") from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) in order to legally operate.
Group Child Care Home: A child care facility in which seven through 12 children of various ages or in which seven through 15 children from 4th grade through 15 years of age who are not related to the operator receive child care. A group child care home must have a certificate of compliance ("license") from DPW in order to legally operate.
Family Child Care Home: A child care facility located in a home in which four, five, or six children who are not related to the caregiver receive child care. A family child care home must have a certificate of registration from DPW in order to legally operate.
To learn more about Pennsylvania State requirements please visit the Department of Public Welfare's website or call the PA Bureau of Certification Services at 1-800-346-2929.