State child care regulations seek to ensure the health and safety of children in child care and to support families by providing care that promotes the emotional, cognitive, communicative, perceptual-motor, physical and social development of the child. Licensing regulations focus on physical environment, child-staff ratios and maximum group size, staff qualifications and background, health and hygiene and program activities.


What are the potential benefits of licensing?

Licensing requirements for afterschool programs, when implemented effectively, can provide Pennsylvania with a number of potential benefits such as:

  • Children’s health and safety are promoted. By setting baseline health and safety requirements for licensed programs, the primary purpose of licensing is to protect children from harm during time spent in child care facilities.
  • Consumers have additional information to make choices. Knowing that a provider is licensed can be an important factor in parental decisions about where children spend their time.
  • Programs are monitored. Program monitoring provides a direct incentive to maintain minimum quality levels over time. Monitoring can also help programs identify areas they may need to improve and help to tailor Pennsylvania-sponsored provider training to meet program needs.
  • Better data exist on where children spend their time. When more programs are licensed, Pennsylvania has better information on where children spend their time when they are not at home or in school. Such data can help policymakers and leaders better understand state and local trends and family preferences for afterschool choices.
  • Policymakers and local leaders gain a more accurate picture of the supply and demand for afterschool programs. Licensing generates information on program availability, proximity, and children served that can help policymakers understand where gaps or duplication in programming exist and inform their decisions on where to allocate scarce resources. Knowing where programs exist also helps Pennsylvania and community resource and referral agencies to connect families with available programs in their communities.
  • Providers enjoy a natural network for information sharing. Licensed child care providers are often supported and introduced to families through Child Care Information Services (CCIS) agencies which are the hub of child care information in local areas. CCIS agencies provide families with information on quality child care and personalized child care referrals to child care providers based on families’ specific needs or preferences. CCIS agencies also administer the Child Care Works subsidized child care program.


What programs need to be licensed?

Afterschool facilities in which out-of-home care is provided at any one time, for part of a 24-hour day to seven or more children, 15 years of age or younger – including care provided in private or public, profit or nonprofit facilities, care provided before or after the hours of instruction in nonpublic schools, and in private nursery schools or kindergartens.

In Pennsylvania, there are four regulations regarding licensing:

55 Pa. Code Chapter 20 Licensure or Approval of Facilities and Agencies.

55 Pa. Code Chapter 3270 Child Care Centers

55 Pa. Code Chapter 3280 Group Child Care Homes

55 Pa. Code Chapter 3290 Family Child Care Homes

Detailed Regulations Information

Child Care Facility Regulations FAQs


What programs are exempt from licensing?

Licensing requirements are not applicable to the following programs:

  • A part-day school-age program that operates for less than 90 consecutive days per calendar year from the date the program opens to the date the program closes. This clarification does not apply to a legal entity that has a certificate of compliance to operate a child care center or group child care home and that increases its enrollment to include school-age children in the summer and on school holidays.
  • A part-day school-age program that operates 2 hours or less per day for 3 or fewer days per week.
  • A part-day school-age program that has a single purpose for the children's attendance and that purpose is the only focus of the program (for example, basketball or art class).
  • Tutoring programs that are licensed by or approved and funded by the Department of Education, for example:
    • Tutoring centers and educational testing and remedial centers licensed by the Department of Education under 22Code Chapters 61 and 63 (relating to tutoring centers; and educational testing and remedial centers).
    • Educational assistance programs operated by school districts directly or by contract with an outside provider approved by the Department of Education.
    • Classroom Plus programs.
    • Supplemental Education Services programs.
  • A drop-in program where the child may come and go at will.


Regional Child Development Offices

There are four child development regional offices in Pennsylvania. Each regional office is responsible for childcare facilities located in specific counties grouped by geographic area. Contact your Regional Child Development Office to request copies of the child daycare regulations, application for licensing, and register for monthly training session on licensing.


North Central Region – Harrisburg Office

(800) 222-2117

Counties served: Adams, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York.

North Central Region – Scranton Office

(800) 222-2108

Counties served: Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming.

Southeast Region

(800) 346-2929

Counties served: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

Western Region

(800) 222-2149

Counties served: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland.


Pennsylvania Regional Keys

The Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality, sponsored by the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning, is a quality improvement program in which all early learning programs and practitioners are encourage and supported to improve child outcomes. There are six regional offices that serve specific counties. Click on your residing county below for more information.


Pennsylvania School-Age Child Care (SACC) Regional Organizations

Through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Child Care and Development Fund school-age targets funds support regionally based school-age child care organizations and specialists to provide specialized professional development and technical assistance. These agencies subcontract through six Regional Key agencies. A primary emphasis of their services focuses on professional development and technical assistance (PD/TA) to support SACC providers participating in Keystone STARS. SACC PD/TA employ research-based methods for improving program quality, and impacting positive outcomes for children. Regional SACC PD/TA also facilitates partnerships with community stakeholders to promote the development and expansion of out-of-school programming.


Central Region

Central Regional Key

STEP, Inc.

2138 Lincoln Street

Williamsport, PA 17701

(570) 601-9736

(800) 346-3020

Northeast Region

Northeast Regional Key

Community Services for Children, Inc.

1520 Hanover Avenue

Allentown, PA 18109

(610) 437-6000

(800) 528-7222

Northwest Regional

Northwest Regional Key

Northwest Institute of Research

3823 West 12th Street

Erie, PA 16505

(814) 836-5898

(800) 860-2281

South Central Region

South Central Regional Key

13 West Market Street

York, PA 17401

(717) 854-3531

(800) 864-4925

Southeast Region

Southeastern Pa. SACC Project

Montgomery Early Learning Centers

201 Sabine Avenue

Narberth, PA 19072

(610) 617-4550 opt. 4

Southwest Region

University of Pittsburgh

Office of Child Development

400 North Lexington Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15208

(412) 244-5309


Child Care Information Services

In communities, Child Care Information Services (CCIS) agencies are the hub of local information for parents. CCIS agencies provide families with information on quality and personalized childcare referrals to providers based on their specific needs or preferences. CCIS agencies also administer the Child Care Works subsidized childcare program.

For more information about Child Care Information Services, visit PA Department of Human Services or call (877) 472-5437.