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Can a Felon Own a Daycare?

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Felons are typically incarcerated for a number of years and separated from their families. When felons do return home, they are eager to rejoin their family. They may have children of their own and even want to offer childcare for working parents. Does having a felony conviction prevent felons from being able to be involved in a daycare center?

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can own a daycare.

  • What is a Daycare Center?
  • What is Childcare Licensing?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Daycare Center?

A daycare center is a childcare facility that allows parents to drop off their children during the day for care, supervision, and learning. A daycare center usually specializes in the care of infants through preschoolers while some daycare facilities also offer care for school-age children before and after school.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides the standards of the organization and structure of a daycare center, especially in providing care for infants and toddlers. To open a daycare center, you must follow all state licensing requirements for the health and safety of children.

Every state is different when it comes to the licensing requirements of a daycare center. The state Department of Human Resources or Child and Family Services determines the needs of licensing based on the number of children in the care center. Owners of the facility must obtain fingerprints, complete a background check, and demonstrate that they’ve completed proper paperwork to run the daycare.

What is Childcare Licensing?

Most childcare programs are required to have a childcare license in order to legally provide child care. A childcare license is separate from a business license.

There are two main types of licensed childcare: licensed childcare centers and licensed family childcare homes. Childcare licensing standards set the minimum acceptable health, safety, and program standards for the legal operation of childcare programs. Childcare licensing regulations are set by individual states. Some counties, cities, or municipalities may also have their own set of childcare licensing standards.

Most licensing regulations address the following:

  • Maximum number of children allowed in a daycare
  • Health and safety standards
  • Minimum education requirements and ongoing training for providers
  • Nutrition and food preparation regulations
  • Parent involvement and communication with parents
  • Physical space requirements
  • Record keeping
  • Required activities for children
  • Required background checks
  • Sanitation standards
  • Adult-to-child ratios

The process to become a licensed childcare provider varies by state. Each state may require an application, background checks, licensing and fire inspections, and certain completed training hours for a license to be issued. A helpful resource for childcare providers is the Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCR&R).

A comprehensive background check to operate a daycare center includes:

  • State and federal criminal history check using the individual’s name or fingerprints
  • Child abuse registry check
  • Sex offender registry check

The offenses which will prevent licensure and providing services that allow unsupervised access to children include:

  • Murder
  • Homicide
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Child abduction
  • Aggravated battery with a firearm
  • Aggravated battery of a child
  • Criminal sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Child abandonment
  • Child endangerment

In addition to the requirements above, no new applicant may operate or receive a license to operate and no person may be employed by a childcare facility licensed by the state who has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit any of the following offenses:

  • Felony aggravated assault
  • Felony domestic battery
  • Felony use of weapons
  • Possession or delivery of a controlled substance

An Opportunity for Felons?

The state may issue a new childcare center license or may renew an existing childcare facility license of an applicant who was convicted of an offense if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The criminal offense occurred more than five years prior to the date of application or renewal.
  • A drug offense occurred more than 10 years prior to the date of application or renewal, unless the applicant has passed a drug test no less than five years after the offense.

If a felon applies to operate a daycare center, he or she needs to be honest in reporting any conviction. A felony that isn’t disclosed but is discovered on a background check is fraud, punishable by possibly being sent back to prison.

Felons have enough of a challenge finding a job, typically being seen as dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them a clear record and the chance they need to succeed in owning a daycare center. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is quite challenging, but it could be worth it for a felon wanting to own a daycare center. Giving him or herself the best chance for success by having his or her record expunged could make the critical difference. Documenting any programs, education, or training he or she has completed will be beneficial.

Having support from family, friends, and others like counselors or even previous employers is essential. Felons don’t have to be defined by their crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. They can begin again and live an honest life no matter how challenging it might seem.

Families of felons are usually very invested in helping their loved one own a daycare center. Stand by your loved one, encourage them, and help them do what it takes to seek approval for a daycare.

This can be a frustrating and discouraging process to go through, but it could be well worth is. Owning a daycare center will require living an honest life.

What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to own a daycare center with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Can a Felon Own a Daycare?”

  1. Felons are a low priority in many states. They expect you to live a quiet, normal life and never get in the system again but they make is almost impossible to anyone to get a job to support themselves and their family. many get discouraged and re-offend again.

  2. See that’s what I don’t really understand do they know felons can be used on their taxes I guess they don’t care I’m sorry to hear/read that that happened to I hope you found something better

  3. It was hard to find a job right after my 4.5 month stay in jail. I was convicted of a drug felony and assigned a year long probation (period where i would be required to check in monthly and keep a job) along with intensive outpatient drug rehab classes and the “time served.”
    I was already struggling to keep my home when i was arrested & my family helped me sell it since i couldnt make my monthly bank loan payments while i was incarcerated.
    So i moved back in with my mother at 33. Got away from my drug-buddies & transferred probation from my hometown to the city, Indy, an hour’s drive north.
    A lovely Christian church daycare director hired me because one of her 5 full-time preschool teachers knew my mother. A blessing.

    Around 6-months later, the director told me that it was my calling to teach young children & she was so glad she took a chance on me.

    Then the daycare had there regularly scheduled state inspection. They told her about a new law that had passed and gave her 6months to get rid of the drug felon on payroll or lose their license.


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