Thriving Childcare

My Awesome Childcare Licensing Visit in 20 MINUTES!

childcare licensing visit

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 some things 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 cheat sheet 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 childcare licensing visit.

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 make 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!

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    But before we jump in, I want to say that there is some work to make 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.

    1. Demeanor

    childcare licensing visit

    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!

    Speed up your licensing visit by making your files easily accessible with this:

    2. Paperwork

    childcare licensing visit

    What do they want to see?

    From past experience, my analyst usually will want to see the following paperwork:

    1. Children’s files (5-currently enrolled)
    2. Current CPR/First Aid Certification – mine and my assistant
    3. 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.

    3. Safety

    childcare licensing visit

    What areas/items will they want to look at?

    1. Kitchen & Bathroom
    2. First Aid
    3. Fire extinguishers & 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 about 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.

    If they ask about the fire extinguisher and smoke detectors, it’s usually just to ensure we have them and they are operable.  I do, however, keep our current fire clearance handy just in case.

    4. Make Note of it

    Make a journal note of the visit. 

    Know what they are looking for and be ready.

    childcare licensing visit

    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.

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    2 Responses

    1. Great article!
      Is the 1st aide kit required or a good idea?
      I have individual kits for each child but not
      A master one
      Thinking of buying that one

      1. Great question! The Title 22 Regulations for the State of California (my home state) indicates that “First Aid Kits” are required. I think you meet those requirements if you have individual kits for each child. Having a master kit ensures that you are always prepared in case there are things missing from smaller kits. The larger kit could also be portable in case of an emergency. Thanks for the question Deanne.

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    Adrienne Bradley Thriving Childcare

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