What is a Child Care Center?

A child care facility is any child care center or child care arrangement for more than five children who are not related to the operator, which receives a payment, fee, grant, or bartering arrangement for the service, wherever operated and whether or not operated for profit. The number of children is limited by Hillsborough County Ordinance, Rules and Regulations.

Our Child Care Licensing Program regulates the operations of child care centers and family child care homes in Hillsborough County, including Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City. We conduct periodic inspections, investigate complaints filed against these facilities, and take enforcement action as necessary. Information packets and classes on starting child care facilities and family day care homes are provided to local residents.

Child care centers and family child care home files are available for parents to review to help them make decisions when seeking child care.


  • Technical assistance available to child providers from the County’s Child Care Licensing Office includes:
  • Background screening on child care staff
  • Fingerprinting for state, federal and local records check for child care providers
  • Screening of child care personnel
  • Professional development training for providers
  • Inspections of licensed child care facilities and family child care homes
  • Providing resources for child care providers including books, videos, and magazines that cover early-childhood topics
  • Special-interest training opportunities throughout the year that fulfill mandated training requirements for child care personnel.

Background Screening

Complete background screening is required for all potential employees of child care facilities prior to employment. It is the responsibility of the child care facility to make sure all employees are cleared to work in child care once the background screening is received.


Volunteers can work up to 10 hours per month in any family child care home or child care center. If a volunteer wants to work more than the 10 hours per month, the volunteer must have the complete screening prior to working more than the allotted 10 hours. There is also additional paperwork required by the volunteer and the provider.

For more information on background screening, visit the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Child Care Licensing Requirements

The complete requirements are included in County Ordinance and the Rules and Regulations Handbook (Programa de Licencia para el Cuidado del Niño). The following are highlights of licensing requirements:

  • The indoor play space must have 35 square feet per child of usable child care space.
  • The outdoor play space must have 100 square feet of usable space per child for at least 1/2 of the indoor capacity. The outdoor play space must have at least 1,000 square feet regardless of indoor capacity.
  • The outdoor play space shall have a safe and adequate fence or wall at a minimum of 4 feet in height.
  • Each child care facility shall have one sink and one toilet for every 15 children.
  • Each facility must be inspected and approved by: Zoning, building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing inspectors from Hillsborough County or the City of Tampa, Plant City, or Temple Terrace, depending on where your facility is located. Also required are a fire inspection, health inspection, written verification of water and sewer or satisfactory well water verification, and septic tank capacity verification.
  • You and all of your child care staff must have a background screening prior to working on site. This consists of a local law enforcement check, a state criminal records check, and an FBI check.
  • You must have one staff person with verification of completion of the Red Cross First Aid Child Care Course, or its equivalent, present at the facility at all times, for every 50 children or increment thereof.
  • You must have one staff person for every 50 children or increment thereof with verification of completion of the Infant / Child CPR Course present at the facility at all times.
  • The staff person responsible for planning and food preparation must complete the nutrition and food management courses.
  • All child care personnel are initially required to take a Department of Children and Families 30-hour introductory child care course, a 10-hour module based on developmentally appropriate practices for children, and a five-hour literacy course. Thereafter, 10 hours of annual in-service training is required every year.
  • Every child care center is required to have at least one staff person with a CDA credential or equivalent for every 20 children.
  • The director of the center must have a Florida Director's Credential.

Apply for a Childcare Center License