Day Cares & Zoning
The ability to operate a daycare is regulated in a variety of ways; this includes zoning. The Wichita-Sedgwick County Unified Zoning Code regulates where and how day cares are allowed to operate.
Information & Assistance
If you have any questions about operating a day care and zoning, then please feel free to contact the Planning Department at 316-268-4421 and ask for the Planner on Duty; or email the Planning Department.
Unified Zoning Code Definitions
Within the Unified Zoning Code, there are a few definitions that apply to day cares:
- Day Care, General means a Day Care center that provides care, protection and supervision for more than twelve (12) individuals at any one time, including those under the supervision or custody of the day care provider and those under the supervision or custody of employees, or a Day Care center for twelve (12) or fewer individuals at any one time that is not operated as a Home Occupation.
- Day Care, Limited means a Day Care center operated as a Home Occupation that provides care, protection and supervision for no more than twelve (12) individuals at any one time, including those under the supervision or custody of the day care provider and those under the supervision or custody of employees.
- Home Occupation means a business, profession, occupation or trade conducted within a Dwelling Unit or Accessory Structure for gain or support by a resident of the Dwelling Unit and that is accessory to the use of the Dwelling Unit as a residence.
Zoning & Day Care Locations
- The Unified Zoning Code permits Day Care, Limited by right in nearly all zoning districts.
- Day Care, General requires a Conditional Use (in certain zoning districts) to be approved by the Planning Commission and possibly the Governing Body.
Zoning, Day Care, & Home Occupations
Per the Unified Zoning Code, residential occupants are allowed to operate a day care from their home (assuming licensing and other requirements are in order). This is called a Home Occupation.
If the house is zoned SF-5 or SF-10, then they are not allowed to have another employee (except for a substitute in some circumstances). Outside of SF-5 or SF-10 zoning, then they are allowed to have 1 additional employee at the day care.
If a Home Occupation day care would like to have additional employees, the property owner can apply for a Conditional Use to be a Day Care, General.
Another option for a Home Occupation day care to have additional employees, is for the property owner to apply for a Variance (an exception for the property) from the Unified Zoning Code. Please note that the Board of Zoning Appeals must find that five conditions exist at the site for this to be granted.
Additional Requirements for Day Care Uses
The Unified Zoning Code (Article III-D) also includes requirements for off-street parking spaces: One per teacher/employee plus 1 per vehicle used in the center, plus one per ten children based on enrollment above 12. It also limits the times for outdoor play (7:30 am to 6:30 pm).
Unified Zoning Code - Adopted Changes
In February and March of 2023, the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County adopted changes to the Unified Zoning Code related to day-care operations to allow additional students. This change was made to align with the State of Kansas regulations to allow up to twelve students. Previously the Unified Zoning Code allowed up to only ten students.
You can learn more about the possible changes by attending and/or viewing an event. The following is a listing of events where information about the possible changes are discussed.
- In April 2022, Planning Department staff were invited to attend a meeting with City staff from Public Works and Utilities - Child Care Licensing team, and a Council Member. During the meeting, Planning Department staff learned that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) allows for more children at a Home Occupation daycare than the Unified Zoning Code. Participants at the meeting indicated that shortage of child-care in Wichita is reaching a crisis point.
- On October 20, 2022, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission was scheduled to consider the proposal to update the Unified Zoning Code regarding Home Occupation Day Cares. The item was deferred due to the need for additional public notice.
- On September 1, 2022, the MAPC Advance Plans Committee considered the changes to the Unified Zoning Code and recommended that the item be presented to the full Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.
- 2022-09-01 APC Meeting Packet
- On November 17, 2022, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Commission considered the changes and voted unanimously to adopt the changes and recommend adoption by both the Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners.
- Metropolitan Area Planning Commission meeting information
- On February 14, 2023, Planning Department staff presented the draft Unified Zoning Code changes and proposed process at a Board of County Commissioner's staff meeting. Members of the Commission asked questions shared thoughts on the draft updates.
- On February 21, 2023, the Wichita City Council voted unanimously to approve the recommended changes to the Unified Zoning Code.
- On March 22, 2023, the Sedgwick County Board of Commissioners Voted unanimously to approve the recommended changes to the Unified Zoning Code.
There are no upcoming events at this time.