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Child Day Care Facilities


A city or county's zoning authority over child day care facilities was substantially limited by 1994 legislation that is now codified in RCW 35.63.185 for cities other than code cities and for towns, in RCW 35A.63.215 for code cities, and in RCW 36.70.757 for counties. State statutes preempt the authority to regulate certain family day care providers (child care providers) located in home facilities in residential and commercial zoned areas. A city or county may impose zoning conditions on the establishment and maintenance of a family day care provider's home in an area zoned for residential or commercial use, so long as such conditions are no more restrictive than conditions imposed on other residential dwellings in the same zone and the establishment of such facilities is not precluded (See RCW 36.70A.450).

"Family day care provider" is defined in RCW 43.215.010(1)(c) to mean "a child day care provider who regularly provides child day care for not more than twelve children in the provider's home in the family living quarters." As a result of this legislation, city and county ordinances adopted to comply with it are basically uniform in their provisions concerning "family day care" facilities. "Child day care center" is defined in RCW 43.215.010(1)(a) to mean "an agency that regularly provides early childhood education and early learning services for a group of children for periods of less than twenty-four hours. Most communities define "child day care center" as a facility providing regularly scheduled care for a group of thirteen or more children for periods of less than twenty-four hours.

Since local regulation of other day care facilities (child day care centers) is not preempted by this legislation, cities and counties may tailor their zoning regulations of those facilities according to local needs. The ordinances below address both family day care providers and other types of day care facilities. Although the Model Ordinance for Child Day Care Facilities by the State Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development (now the Washington State Department of Commerce) was prepared in 1990, before the 1994 preemptive legislation, these provisions comply with this legislation.

City and County Code Provisions

  • Bainbridge Island Municipal Code Sec. 18.09.030(C)(5) and(6) - Day Care Centers - Includes general requirements and decision criteria for facilities providing day care
  • Deer Park Municipal Code Ch. 18.82 - Day Care Facilities Regulations - Includes family day care and commercial day care 
  • Lacey Municipal Code Ch. 16.65 - Day Care Facilities - Includes family day care homes and child day care centers
  • Port Townsend Municipal Code Ch. 17.52 - Child Care Facilities - Different regulations for Family Home Child Care and In-Home Preschools and Child Day Care Centers and Stand Alone Preschools
  • Redmond Zoning Code Sec. 21.08.340 - Home Business (see subsection (C)(13) Family day care providers) – Family day care providers permitted as home businesses subject to specific requirements
  • Tumwater Municipal Code Ch.18.52 - Child Care Facilities - Distinguishes among family child care home, child mini-day care center, and child day care center
  • Whatcom County Code Sec. - Child Care Facilities - Addresses family day care home, mini-day care center, and day care center  

Other Related Documents

This section includes general information on child care facilities and informational handouts on permitting for child day care facilities.

Last Modified: October 16, 2017