Ok, let’s say you just heard a knock on the door. It’s your licensing analyst! You panic because you are not ready. Your house looks ok, but your paperwork is all over the place and probably not up to date. Certainly not ready for a childcare licensing visit. I am sure many providers can relate! I know I can!
If you are like most providers, you are busy all of the time. Which is why you might have let somethings go. Now you are on the spot and scrambling. Well, today I’m going to share my process and how I got through my last childcare licensing visit in record time (for me), only 20 minutes. Oh and hang on till the end for a cheatsheet that will keep you ready too.
My 20-minute Childcare Licensing Visit
Do you ever wish you could rush your analyst through an inspection? Kinda like you would rush a toddler to the potty. Well, while that might be funny to watch, it probably isn’t gonna happen.
But listen, last time I actually had the fastest childcare licensing visit I’ve ever had. The entire inspection only took 20 minutes! Yep, 20 minutes! Here’s how it went.
Prepare my fellow providers for their next inspection.
Right from the beginning, I want to say that I am sharing this information not to brag or boast about how I was able to fly through my last licensing inspection with flying colors.
No, I’m sharing to inspire and prepare my fellow providers for their next inspection. And although it may or not a super fast process, after reading this post hopefully you will be on your way to being better prepared.
Ok, I know you saw that headline and thought “What! Girl, how did you do that?” Yeah, I know that’s what I would be thinking too. But here’s the thing; while I wish I could give you a step-by-step formula to a turbo licensing visit, sadly that really isn’t possible.
The problem is many of us have different inspection processes altogether. We live in different states, cities, counties, countries etc. and the standards or rules are different as well.
The other thing is even our own process can change from visit to visit. I know that in the 15 years I have been a provider I have had no less than 8 (maybe more) different licensing analysts. And that is within the same city limits and licensing agency.
With that, as many providers can attest to, each analyst had their own inspection procedure and to say it was subjective is a huge understatement. SUPER INCONSISTENT!
There is some work to making sure you are ready for
your childcare licensing visit.
That being said, I still want to give you a GENERAL (notice all caps on that) guide for being as prepared as possible for your next licensing visit. So in the spirit of that, this post will show you how I got through my last childcare licensing visit in 20 minutes!
But before we jump in, I want to say that there is some work to making sure you are ready for your childcare licensing visit. But if you’re consistent you can manage it so that you are more than ready for that knock on the door.
Along the way, I will give you some handy tips that you can adopt. Tips that have made some of this process a lot easier for me.
RELAX. BREATH. You can do this!
Here’s the thing, most of us get unannounced licensing visits. So most of the time a childcare licensing visit it a surprise. But to be honest, we know it’s coming. So while the actual knock may have been startling, the visit isn’t really a shock.
So try to RELAX!
Take a deep breath. And while you are doing that try to adjust your mood too if you need to. I know you are probably busy, but this is just as much a part of your business as your daily schedule. So adapt and push through. You can do this!
What do they want to see?
From past experience, my analyst usually will want to see the following paperwork:
- Children’s files (5-currently enrolled)
- Current CPR/First Aid Certification – mine and my assistant
- Current Enrollment Roster
Make sure these documents are updated for accuracy on at least a monthly basis. Keep them in an accessible place for when you need them.
TIP: I usually scan my certification documents into my computer. That way I can always pull up a copy and print them out if I need to.
What areas/items will they want to look at?
- Kitchen & Bathroom
- First Aid
- Fire extinguisher & smoke detectors
Usually, my analyst will do a walk-through looking at safety items. Areas in the kitchen & bathrooms are looked at to ensure poisons and dangerous items are out of reach. I have installed hanging shower caddies to keep shampoos, conditioners, body wash, etc. off the deck of the shower.
In the past, the analyst has asked to see my First Aid Kit. Interestingly, the last time she was specifically concerned whether I had a pair of scissors in the kit. I do now!
TIP: Try to do a monthly check to be sure your First Aid Kit is stocked. Changing batteries in smoke detectors at the beginning and end of daylight savings is a good rule of thumb.
Make a journal note of the visit.
Know what they are looking for and be ready.
One of the last steps I do is to make a journal note about the visit. I try to recall the details of who came, what was asked about and especially the day and time of the visit.
If I can get a general idea of when to expect my next childcare licensing visit, it can’t help but benefit me. Know what they are looking for and be ready.
TIP: I created a Facility File where I file my license, first aid cards, clearances and licensing paperwork.
I also note any problems or issues that arose. Then I scan and file (computer, facility file, and My Childcare Notebook) the new licensing paperwork. I make additional notes about any new items that may have been asked about and/or new rules or regs.
5. Final Note
Show fellow providers some love!
Now even before I do the notes above, as soon as the analyst is out the door, I try to remember to
call or text the other providers in my area to give them a heads up that licensing is in the area and might be stopping by. It’s kinda cool because they do the same for me.
And I was done!
And that’s it! Mission accomplished. The analyst has left the building.
Each provider will likely have their own childcare licensing visit procedure.
I will be the first to say that my process is probably not perfect and it might not work for everyone. Each provider will likely have their own childcare licensing visit procedure. I shared my process just as a guide for to how I get through an inspection.
No, it’s not perfect. But here’s the thing, if you have a process your analyst might pick up on the professionalism you have. So even if there are minor issues that professionalism might just garner you some grace and not a citation or fine.
One time one of the children’s files was missing a form. I am usually very organized about the files and the anaylst could see that. So instead of making it an issue, she gave me pass and just reminded me to get it and insert the form into the file as soon as possible.
One last thing; even though this visit was actually only 20 minutes, the truth is that might not be your experience. Heck, it might not happen for me again. But this experience has taught me that if I am prepared, I can successfully get through it in short order.
And just to give you a helping hand, here is that Cheatsheet for Licensing I promised. Use it to get and stay ready for your next licensing visit.
So the next time you hear that knock on the door, don’t stress! YOU’RE READY! Told you – YOU GOT THIS!