Start up Information

We are glad you are interested in exploring the option of opening an early care and education program in Moore County!

If you are caring for more than two children who aren't related to you for more than four hours a day, you might need to be licensed through the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).

If you do not meet any of the exemption scenarios provided below, then you need to apply for a license. The exemptions are:

  • Recreational programs operated for less than four consecutive months in a year;
  • Specialized activities or instruction such as athletics, dance, art, or organized clubs for children, such as scouts, 4-H, or boys and girls clubs;
  • Drop-in or short-term care provided while parents participate in activities that are not employment related and where the parents are easily accessible, such as provided at health spas, resort hotels, or churches;
  • Public schools (and nonpublic schools that are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools);
  • Cooperative arrangements among parents to provide care for their own children as a convenience rather than for employment;
  • Any child care program or arrangement consisting of two or more separate components, each of which operates for four hours or less per day with different children attending each component.

How Do I Get Licensed?

Determine the kind of child care program you want to offer.

If you want to provide care in your home for a maximum of five preschool children, or up to eight children if at least three are school-aged, then you need to follow the Family Child Care Home application process.

  • Contact Barbara Ross, our Family Child Care Specialist, at 910.949.4045.  She can walk you through the start-up process which involves completing an application through the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, discussing the possibility of opening a home child care business with your local zoning officials, and completing a background check.  Other requirements and business tips can be discussed with Barbara over the phone or through a scheduled Pre-Licensing Workshop session designed specifically for potential home providers.


If you want to provide care for more than five preschool children, then you need to follow the Child Care Center application process. The number of children you can care for is based upon indoor and outdoor square footage, completed building fire and sanitation inspections and any local zoning ordinances.

  • Contact Leslie Carson, our Child Care Center Specialist, at 910.949.4045.  She can discuss the licensing process with you by phone and visit any potential building sites that you are considering to provide feedback on feasibility.
  • Click on this link to access a booklet developed by the DCDEE which will give you an overview of what is involved in opening a licensed center:  Basic Information for Potential Providers.
  • Check with your county or city governments to find out if there are additional local standards and/or requirements for opening a center.
  • Attend a Prelicensing Workshop sponsored by the DCDEE.  The workshop is required for anyone interested in opening a child care center. The most recent workshop schedule and registration form is attached here:  Prelicensing Workshops  Topics to be covered at the training include:

                    1. Issues to consider in selecting both a site and a building for a child care center

                    2. The role of building, fire, and sanitation inspectors, as well as the child care licensing consultants

                    3. Caregiving requirements for young children.

  • After attending the Prelicensing Workshop, you will receive the name and phone number of the Licensing Supervisor in your area who will assign a child care licensing consultant to work with you. Your consultant will schedule several pre-licensing visits with you to talk about the specific licensing requirements for your center and to assist you in completing the application forms.