Daycare Centers
What is the purpose of the Daycare Unit?

The purpose of the Cleveland Department of Health Daycare Unit is to ensure a healthy and safe environment for children in child care settings and to improve the quality of their care through regulation and consultation. Our department ensures that licensing requirements are met through ongoing inspections of child care facilities, thus preventing the continued operation of substandard child care programs.

In the City of Cleveland, we define Daycare Centers as an institution or place in which seven (7) or more children not of common parentage, are received for periods of not less than four (4) hours, nor more than twenty-four (24) hours at one time, for care apart from their parents, whether for compensation, reward or otherwise.

Any person, firm, association or corporation desiring a permit to open, maintain and conduct a Daycare Center must submit an application to the Commissioner of Assessments and Licenses between November 1 and December 31 for the following year.

The Daycare Unit also serves as a resource to Daycare providers in the City of Cleveland by providing information on pertinent health issues such as immunizations, communicable diseases and outbreak prevention, and nutrition. Our program offers general training on a variety of issues in childcare centers on such topics as: immunizations, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and common childhood illnesses.

If your Daycare Center is interested in having an in-service conducted, please call (216) 420-7952 to schedule.

What are the procedures for opening a Daycare Center in the City of Cleveland?

You will need a permit to operate a Daycare Center in the City of Cleveland. You will need to also obtain a license from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and we strongly suggest that you contact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 1-866-886-3537 (option 4) for information on their rules and regulations. Request that they send to you a copy of the State of Ohio Daycare Licensing Law and Administrative Rules.

In order to receive a Daycare permit, you will have to receive approval from several departments within the City of Cleveland. These departments include:
  • Fire Department
  • Building and Housing Department (including zoning)
  • Division of Environment (if you plan to serve food)
  • Division of Health
In general, passing the Building and Housing zoning codes is the most difficult because remodeling and equipment may be needed.

These are suggested steps in preparing for the opening of your Daycare Center:
  1. Obtaining a Building Permit: The first step in getting a Certificate of Occupancy is getting a Building Permit. You must submit architectural drawings to the Building Department. These drawings must include: plot plans, floor plans, sections, elevation, electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and plumbing details. If the Daycare Center will be serving meals, the plans must also include drawings for the kitchen. If you choose, you can hire an architect who will have information regarding building codes. This architect may physically inspect the building and propose plans to improve the building which will meet all building codes. You then submit the drawings in triplicate to the Division of Building and Housing, Room 505, Cleveland City Hall for approval.

    If the plans meet all requirements, then the permit will be issued to a General Contractor registered within the City of Cleveland. This method is fairly quick, if the building used for the Daycare Center is currently owned by prospective operator. When the plans are submitted to the Building Department, the plan examiner will review the plans for compliance with all applicable codes. If the plans meet all requirements, a building permit will be issued only to a General Contractor registered within the City of Cleveland. If the permit is denied by the plan examiner for incompliance with applicable codes, you have the right to appeal the decision for a variance before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

  2. Applying for Certificate of Occupancy: After the remodeling work is completed, you must apply for a Certificate of Occupancy from the Division of Building and Housing. Once this application has been made, the building will be inspected by Building, Fire, and Environmental Health inspectors to verify if the changes meet the codes. If the codes have been met, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued. NO BUILDING MAY BE OCCUPIED UNTIL THIS PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED.

  3. Acquiring Permit to Operate a Daycare Center: After the Division of Assessments and Licenses has received written approval from all of the departments involved, they will notify you that you are approved or disapproved. If you are approved, you must submit a Daycare Center application to the City of Cleveland Assessments & Licenses with a $50.00 fee. This application must be renewed each year. During the year, the District Nurse will visit your Daycare Center at least once to be certain that the Daycare Center is following the rules and regulations.
Where can I find the Daycare Center Codes?

You can download or view a PDF of the codes by clicking the following link: Daycare Center Codes.pdf

How do I file a Daycare Center Complaint?

Do you have a concern regarding a child care provider? If so, it may be necessary to file a complaint.

Download the Daycare center complaint form

Once a complaint reaches our department, an inspector is deployed to the center within in 48 hours. If the complaint voiced is that of an urgent matter, the inspector will be sent out to the Daycare Center immediately.

You can also call (216) 420-7952 to talk to an inspector regarding a complaint, or if no one is available at the time of your call, please call the Director of Nursing at (216) 664-4354.

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