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Online Extra: Preschool Licensing

Studio 5’s Brooke Walker breaks down the requirements.

With literally hundreds of preschools to choose from, you might think to turn to state-approved programs to help make the best decision about where to place your child. But in Utah, preschools are not licensed by a state agency.

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“There are some child care centers licensed by the State and many of those childcare centers operate a preschool within them, but a freestanding preschool is not something that falls under the jurisdiction of any licensing entity within the state,” explains Tom Hudachko with the Utah Department of Health.

Hudachko says once someone opens ther home to more than five children, for more than four hours a day, it’s classified as a day care. But where most preschools operate on a shorter schedule – usually no more than 3 hours at a time – they are exempt from licensing requirements.

“If you have an individual, who is just running a preschool out of their home and they have five or 10 kids who come in for a few hours of a day, they are not required to have a license,” Hudachko said.

Because of that, Hudachko emphasizes just how important it is for parents to do their homework.

“We suggest that when parents are trying to choose a childcare center, drop in unannounced, take a walk around, see what sort of conditions are present,” Hudachko said. “Ask about the employees, how long they have been there. There are a lot of indicators that parents can get by just popping in and asking some well-informed questions about where they are looking at placing their children.

Other helpful tips? Ask for references. Call parents of past students and ask specific questions about their experience. Hudachko points out any reputable business should be more than willing to provide such information.

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