Homeschool Co-op or Daycare?

I am a former homeschooler as well as a former teacher, and I am planning to offer a small homeschool co-op out of my home in Illinois this fall for 8 children (none which are mine).

I had someone ask about the need for a license to do so (through DCFS), and while I’ve looked into it extensively, I haven’t been able to find anything concrete. I just want to make sure I’m not doing anything illegal.

Your advice and suggestions are appreciated.
Thank you!

Basically I think you are asking: Is my planned group a homeschool co-op or a daycare?

I cannot answer that for you. It’s a legal question and I’m not an attorney. I’m an accountant and I have no desire to become an expert on daycare licensing laws. 🙂

But I have some criteria that makes a group a homeschool co-op:

A Homeschool Co-op is:

1. Every participating family is legally homeschooling according to their state homeschool laws.

Look up your state homeschool laws here:

2. Parents (or legal custodians) are the main provider of their children’s homeschool education.
In most states being the main provider of education means limited instruction by a non-parental instructor. Some states go so far as to put day and hour restrictions on non-parental instruction. Most homeschool co-ops meet only one day a week; some may meet two days a week to maintain the requirement that the parent is the main provider of the child’s homeschool education.

This also may mean that if a child is enrolled in a public school virtual program, they are not a homeschooled student, even if the virtual public school instruction takes place in the child’s home. Illinois and several other states do have a dual enrollment policy (or part time public school option), usually for high school students, so look into the details for your state.

3. A homeschool co-op means that parents stay on-site and cooperatively help in the classroom as a teacher or helper. There are “drop off” programs for homeschool students. They do not use parent volunteers but rather hire instructors. They are not “co-ops” because the parents are not cooperatively sharing the teaching, but they are still homeschool educational programs.

These homeschool programs may or may not need to be licensed as daycare centers depending on their state laws, how frequently they meet, etc.

Look up your state’s daycare licensing laws here:

The best advice I could offer to Natalie is to contact the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services Child Care Licensing Agency. Natalie will need explain to the details of her situation and see what they advise.

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