Starting a child care facility

Considering starting a child care business? Any facility intended for three or more children who are not siblings, and who are not related to you by blood or marriage, requires:

  • a community care facility licence issued by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)
  • a business licence issued by the District (registered non-profit providers are exempt from the licence fee)
  • a building permit or development permit (in some situations)

Will your facility be located in a residence and offer care for more than eight children? There are additional business licence and BC Building Code requirements. Refer to our Child Care How-To Guide for more information.

Before you begin

Before you buy or lease a property for your facility, or apply for the required licences and permits, you should:

  • conduct preliminary research into the community’s child care needs, provincial and municipal licensing regulations and requirements, and the type of facility you plan to operate
  • contact us to find out if you need a building or development permit

Application process overview

Child care facilities are generally permitted in all zones in the District.  Here is a brief overview of the application process for opening your child care facility:

1. Apply for a community care facility licence to VCH 

VCH staff will review your application and send a request letter to us to initiate the required site and building inspections. These inspections will be completed as part of the District’s business licence approval process.

2. Apply for a business licence to the District

We will review the application and contact you to arrange the required inspections. During inspections, you will be advised if there are any deficiencies you need to address.

3. If a building permit is required - apply for the permit to the District after obtaining VCH’s approval

We will review your application and check if the proposed work complies with municipal bylaws and provincial code requirements. Construction may begin once a permit is issued.

4. Obtain the required licences (and permits)

Once you pass all required inspections and obtain your licences, you can open your child care facility.

The licence and permit approval process may happen at the same time, or in a different order.

Get more details of the process and requirements

For complete details of how to apply, refer to our Child Care How-To Guide. The guide was created to help child care providers start, expand, or relocate a child care facility in the District. It includes:

  • assistance with developing a child care proposal, including a list of important documents and considerations
  • step-by-step assistance on how to obtain the licences and permits you need
  • details on public meetings and public hearings you may need to attend
  • planning guidelines for child care in residential buildings
  • helpful contacts and resources you will need
  • frequently asked questions

Download the Child Care How-To Guide

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