The Business of Family Child Care

There is always a need for quality child care.  In the rural areas of West Central Illinois, there are few child care centers so for many parents the only option for child care is the family child care setting.  Family child care offers a blending of ages and each child has the opportunity to relate to a few other children of different ages.  A family child care provider is often someone in the neighborhood and may be able to make flexible arrangements with the working parent.  Some of these providers are available to care for children whose parents work at night or on weekends when centers are not usually open.

Just as each child is unique, so is each family child care program.  In Illinois, licensing standards for basic health and safety, as well as, business practice is set by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).  These standards also address the learning environment for children and on-going training for child care providers.  In order to start the licensing process, contact DCFS and request a licensing packet.  Adams & Hancock counties call 217-221-2525 or Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Green, Jersey, Pike & Schuyler counties call 217-479-4800.

Here is an overview of the licensing process.



Here is a great resource for opening and running a family child care home


West Central Child Care Connection offers:

  • An Orientation Booklet packed with an array of Start-up information
  • Assistance to providers on parent / provider relationships, business topics and much more
  • Referrals for parents to child care programs in requested areas
  • Trainings for child care providers on many relevant early care and education topics
  • Illinois Child Care: A Guide for Family Home Providers
  • Access to online trainings in our office-Our office is open 8:30 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday for you to come in and use our computers to complete trainings online.  Please call at least one day prior to setup online user account and check for computer availablility.

Training Hours required by DCFS before applying for licensing:

  • Effective 1-1-2011 individuals applying to become licensed through DCFS must complete 15 hours of approved training prior to submitting their application.
  • DCFS requires specific trainings: Infant/Child/Adult CPR & First Aid, Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse:Training for Mandated Reporters, SIDS/SUIDS/Safe Baby, Shaken Baby Syndrome, Trama Informed Practice for Child Care Providers, Lead in Water and Food Handler class be included in the 15 hours.

SIDS/SUID/Safe Sleep, SBS/Traumatic Brain Injury, Trauma Informed Practice, and Lead in Water may also be done online at the following links:

  • LeadCare Illinois offers FREE lead in water testing and training to all Illinois licensed child care providers.


Food Handlers Course – These food handler courses will take you through the fundamentals of food safety for your food handler training certificate which is sometimes confused with a permit, license, card or certification. Once the course has been completed, you should have a good understanding of what foodborne illness is, how it is caused, and what you can do to help prevent it from occurring.

Once the course is successfully taken, you will be able to immediately print a certificate for your records.

Listed below are some options.

You only need to complete one class.



Click here to join the Gateways Registry and start taking the online trainings.


  • The remaining hours can be taken in any trainings that are approved child development related topics in which a certificate of attendance is received. Listed below are some optional free online training opportunities or access our training calendar.


For an opportunity to meet the DCFS requirement for completing a training on special care inclusion you can take a free online training from ilearning at the following link:


For more information on becoming a licensed family child care business you can take a free online training created by DCFS at the following link:


More online training options:

ilearning: Gateways to Opportunity

Introduction to the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Introduction to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a training made specifically for family and group home day care providers. The CACFP is an important program that helps ensure children are eating nutritious foods and developing habits to support lifelong nutrition.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)


For more information on starting your own family child care business, receiving a free orientation booklet or the required 15 hours of training, call Barb at West Central Child Care Connection at (217)222-2550 or email