Forest Schools and Other Unlicensed Programs for Ages 0-5

Programs for preschool-aged children that take place exclusively outdoors are sometimes called "Forest Schools." These programs may not be licensed because they don't have a permanent indoor site that can be inspected and approved as part of the licensing process. Some forest schools without a permanent indoor space have been told by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) that they cannot be licensed or that they don't need a license.  We have written to CCLD to ask whether these outdoor programs can be licensed, because they are becoming increasingly popular and parents ask about them often on BPN. As of Spring 2017, we have received no response from CCLD.  

BPN does not accept posts about unlicensed programs for children under 5 unless the program has a legal exemption. We also do not accept posts about any other activities the business operates, such as a summer camp, whether a license is required for those activities or not. 

We recommend that parents not use unlicensed programs for their young children, because basic protections for children cannot be ensured, including background checks for all adults, safety and first-aid training for staff, vaccination status for teachers and children, and adult-to-child ratios. 

For more information about BPN's policy on licensing see About Childcare Licensing in California.