Child Care

Home Care vs Day Care

A child care facility provides non-medical care to children for less than 24 hours a day. Child care facilities include day care centers and family day care homes.

Day care centers provide care for more than 12 children and are not located in the provider's home. These include infant centers, preschools and extended day care facilities.

Family day care homes, on the other hand, are located in the provider's home and care for 12 or fewer children. "Large family day care homes" are for 7 - 12 children, including the children under 10 years old who live at home. "Small family day care homes" care for six or fewer children, including children under 10 years old living at home.

Where Facilities Are Permitted

Child care facilities are allowed with a Conditional Use Permit in any zoning district in the City of Santa Rosa. Small family day care homes for six or fewer children are exempt from the Conditional Use Permit requirement.


To open a large family day care center you will need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (PDF). This application asks for information about the number and ages of children, hours and days of operation, and the type of care you are providing. You must submit a site plan, which shows the location and size of your lot, the dimensions of your home or facility, the off-street parking spaces for your employees and the pick-up and drop-off areas. Check with City staff for required fees.

Evaluation of Applications

The planner working with you on your project will evaluate it based mainly on the following standards:
  • The child care facility may not be located within 300 feet of another large family day care facility
  • Noise considerations, such as play hours and areas, will be reviewed
  • Parking, necessary for the size of the facility, will be required on the provider's lot, as well as on the street
  • The planner will check the traffic circulation plan for safety
Day care centers will also be reviewed for compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.

Other Requirements

Large family day care facilities are exempt from environmental review but require public noticing of surrounding property owners. Day care centers do require environmental review and a public hearing before the Planning Commission. This public hearing requires an on-site sign.

All day care facilities require a State license. If this license has not been obtained, it must be applied for before submitting the Conditional Use Permit application.

Permit Expiration

Conditional Use Permits (PDF) are usually granted for the duration of the use. However, if all the conditions of approval are not being met, the permit will be reviewed and possibly revoked. The Conditional Use Permit is approved for the specific location. If you change locations, you must reapply.

Other Actions Required