Child Care Licensing Bright From the Start

The Child Care Services division of Bright from the Start monitors and licenses child care programs. Responsibilities include:

  • Supporting licensed child care learning centers and group and family day care homes through monitoring, technical assistance and training to assure safe and healthy environments and to improve the quality of services to children.
  • Providing information to parents about Georgia child care programs through our Provider Search feature.
  • Providing consumer education by making child development and early childhood education information available to parents and providers.
  • Providing information and assistance to those opening child care programs.
  • Investigating complaints of child care programs.
  • Investigating reports of unlicensed child care operations

The DECAL board must vote on new regulations for child care centers. The process to issue a new regulation typically requires public hearing and public comment and a board vote. The regulation will then be put into statute and become effective once it is pumulgated.

It is imperative that child care providers fully understand any new proposed regulations, provide their input into the discussion to sculpt the proposed regulation If so needed and be fully engaged in the process. Regulations for child care centers are written to protect children’s safety and serve as a baseline for quality care. Unnecessary, or burdensome regulations can compromise both the care that centers provide as well as the financial solvency of a program.

Comments or concerns regarding proposed regulations should be addressed to both Assistant Commissioner Bobby Cagle, and your DECAL board member.

To find your board member

To find a list of current DECAL regulations

Compliancy Determination and Core Rules

Child care centers will receive a “compliancy” determination based upon their past 12 months of child care licensing visits. This determination is based upon the state’s fiscal calendar, beginning July 1 – June 30th. There are two levels of compliancy, non-compliant and compliant. During licensing visits, citations that occur in any of the twelve “core rule” categories will count against a provider’s compliancy rating. Each citation will be coded by risk; Low Risk, Medium/ High or Extreme Risk.

If a center is found to have six or more core rule violations in category risk LOW and 3 or more in Medium and two or more in High in the twelve month period, they will be “NON COMPLIANT” This determination will stay with them until the following July and a new calendar year.

Compliancy determination impacts funding decisions such as CAPS, Pre K and participation in the QR program.

To view the “Core Rule” Reference Chart

Provide Valuable Feedback to DECAL With the Child Care Licensing Survey

The Georgia Child Care Association working in conjunction with DECAL, will be giving centers a unique opportunity to provide feedback to DECAL on their customer service and clarity of rules, regulations and oversight on all of their licensing visits.

The survey created by GCCA, is designed to help identify varying experiences with licensing consultants while conducting visits in the field. Additionally, the information gathered from the survey will assist GCCA and DECAL in determining training areas for providers and your employees.

It is important that the survey be completed and submitted to GCCA following each visit from a licensing consultant on behalf of Bright from the Start. The results of the surveys will be collected, analyzed and presented to BFTS in order to communicate what is working and identify areas where clarification or training may be needed to improve the health and safety of the children through regulations.

While responses to the surveys will not act as a means to appeal a citation, they will provide meaningful information that GCCA can share with BFTS to assist as they make changes to child care regulations and the way they are enforced throughout the state of Georgia.

Take the Child Care Licensing Survey »

Exemptions to Licensing

The GCCA strongly believes that exemptions to licensing should be limited and used as an EXCEPTION. All programs working with young children need a baseline of safety rules that must be met in order to ensure proper health and safety. DECAL currently grants exemptions to licensing based upon several criteria. Programs that are exempt from licensing now must post signs that they are exempt and additionally have parents sign acknowledgment forms.

DECAL has committed to reviewing the existing summer camp exemptions to be able to have any updated regulations in place by the summer of 2013. Please continue to check on DECAL’s website as well as GCCA’s for dates and times of community hearings.

Your active participation in these meetings is very important as we move toward ensuring that children are well protected in all summer programs.

To Read More About GCCA’s Stance on Exemptions

GCCA’s position paper on exemptions

To View DECAL’s Existing Exemptions

To See if a Day Camp Program in Your Area Has Filed for an Exemption

What are the Changes for After School Exemptions for Fall?

In the spring, Georgia passed into law new exemptions to licensing which changed which programs may advertise as after school program and provide true after school services. Additionally, a program granted an exemption shall post in a prominent place near the front entrance of the facility both a copy of the exemption approval letter issued by the department and a notice provided by the department that will notify a parent or guardian that the program is not licensed and is not required to be licensed by the state. The notice shall be at least ½ inch letters and shall contain the department’s telephone number and website address.

When a parent or guardian initially registers a child with an exempt program, the parent or guardian shall sign a form indicating the parent or guardian has been advised and understands that the program is not licensed and is not required to be licensed by the state.

Karate studios, dance or gymnastic facilities may no longer promote after school services. Please review the attached new exemptions and inform your local elementary schools as they begin to inform parents about their choices for after school programs for the fall.

Click here to read more

Transportation and Trip Forms

Please review the following clarification charts from DECAL as of 10/5/12 listed below.  These charts represent the rules that were clarified by DECAL and DPH with assistance from the State's Attorney General.


Providers may no longer be able to transport children to and from home to a center using a MFAB. Additionally, all children under 5 years of age must be in a child  restraint system while being transported in a MFAB or a van.  This law has not changed, however it appears that many providers may have been unaware that MFAB were included.


Click to review the latest charts



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5490 McGinnis Village Place, Suite 215
Alpharetta, Georgia 30005
Phone: (770) 752-4117
Fax: (770) 752-4207